New Republic Article - Who owns the Dead?

CROSSINGS is a founding organization of a gentle but radical movement in the US that stands for the healing power of caring for our own departed. We serve the dead. We serve the families of the dead. We serve love. We serve the Earth. And we believe that no less than the healing of our society is at stake as we decide how our dead are cared for.

The Healing Power of Caring for Our Own Dead
What is the single most prevalent fear for humans? Death. And what is the single most healing act available to humans? Love. In caring for the dead, we love. As an act of love, we are able to transform our overwhelming fear into something that fills us with awe.

Serving the Dead
We honor the vessel, the body of our beloved. We disturb it as little as possible. We tend to it with respect, and as if it is still inhabited by the one we love. We talk quietly. We surround it in gentle light and with tokens of our love.

Serving the Families of the Dead
We give permission to carry out the heart’s desire to care for their beloved family member. We offer truth in dispelling the misunderstandings that surround death care. We give the family guideposts on an unfamiliar path.

Serving Love
All that we do, we do in the name of love as we care for our departed loved one. We honor and acknowledge the love that connects us and best prepares us to escort our loved ones out of this life. We stand by the premise that no one can better tend to our departed than those who have known and loved them.

Serving the Earth
CROSSINGS stands for a return to simplicity in funeral care, negating the need for the never-ending consumption of hard materials to bury in the earth—the concrete liners, the formaldehyde, the steel, the rare hardwood from the rainforest—and the fossil fuels consumed for cremation. It is our belief that we actually give something back to the earth when we are buried in it directly.

Our Belief That There is No Greater Teacher Than Death
Our dead are offering us a great teaching, and a great healing. They teach of the cyclical, ephemeral nature of life. They teach as we sit vigil, as we witness their departure. They teach an appreciation of life and offer an experience of the deepest love as we experience their loss. They offer us an opportunity to act out of our most loving self.

These are the highest of gifts that the dead can bestow. And in order to be present to those gifts, we need to be by their side and involved in their care—to allow the vitality and wisdom and love into our hearts. We need to bring death care back into the home, where it began, and to our way of thinking, where it belongs. If we send our dead off to an institutional setting, then those that love them best are not involved in their care and we cannot bear witness to the transformation. We know that caring for our own dead is not for everyone, but we are compelled by our mission and our belief to state clearly the consequences of choices in funeral care.