Death is inevitable but the way we deal with it is not.
One Illawarra group is seeking to empower people at the time of their greatest loss by reimaging the way people farewell their loved ones.
The Port Kembla Community Project (PKCP) has developed a not-for-profit initiative allowing people to ensure end of life processes are personal, meaningful and affordable.
Buoyed by a conversation in which members spoke of the need for options when dealing with the death of a loved one, including the opportunity to spend more time with the deceased and be involved in their care, the group is launching its own model, Tender Funerals.
With months of research and development behind them, the PKCP is ready to implement their plan and has launched a major crowdfunding drive to raise the funds needed to realise the project.
The funds will be used to create the self-sustaining service in the Illawarra and create a viable model that can be replicated by any community in the country.
PKCP spokeswoman Jennifer Briscoe-Hough says the passion of the community group is equalled only by its determination to succeed.
“Death is a difficult time for everyone but part of the grieving process is having the opportunity to say goodbye in the way you want to,” she said.
“It’s about having the time to make decisions, to be able to celebrate the loved one’s life in a way that is personal and fulfilling and having the opportunity to be as hands-on as you may want to be.
‘If our community model can give people the most positive experience possible when saying goodbye without the loss of the professionalism every service deserves then we have achieved our goal.
The group’s work became bittersweet when one of their own, Nigel Slater, was diagnosed with lung cancer and died late last year.
Without their own model in place they honoured his life in the one way they knew they could do best – by ensuring those closest to him had the time to say goodbye.
Now they want to take their project that last step by making Tender Funerals a reality. To set up the initiative in the Illawarra the group needs to raise $200,000.
The money will secure and fit-out premises, buy and modify a vehicle, employ a funeral director and create a community outreach program.
Once developed the venture will be self-funded and PKCP will work with other communities to create a similar model.
The development of Tender Funerals and the work of the group, including Nigel, has been captured in a film by Lynette Wallworth. Tender screened at the Sydney Film Festival on June 9 and will encore on ABC1 on June 22 at 10.30pm.