Revealed: Behind the scenes at a funeral home

Each year more than 30,000 Kiwis die. Newshub took a peek into the funeral parlour to see what actually happens next - and what it's like to spend your life working with dead bodies.

Nestled in Auckland's Eden Terrace is The Natural Funeral Company. Like the name says, it uses the natural approach.

Instead of embalming bodies, it uses ice, essential oils and restorative creams to slow the spread of decay. This allows funeral staff to take care of the body for a week or more.

Revealed: Behind the scenes at a funeral home
Photo credit: Newshub

"I've always thought that death is a natural process, it should be treated naturally and, therefore, we like to do that around people's bodies, we allow them to go through the natural process," says funeral director Chris Foote.

"The idea is not to preserve the body. We use ice as a way of slowing the processes down before the funeral day, still with a natural approach that we're not interfering with the body."

The company also takes care of the details like collecting information for the death certificate. The next step is the funeral - or "celebration". Foote says they're not just for the dead - they're for the living as well.

"I think when someone dies it brings back so much around your relationship with that person and of course a lot of memories and what that person really means to you and who that person really was," she says.

"I think it's really important to mark someone's death in some way. It doesn't have to be a full funeral service, but that we stop for a moment and acknowledge that person and all they mean to us."

Revealed: Behind the scenes at a funeral home
Photo credit: Newshub

The Natural Funeral Company supports families to come up with their own ideas about what they'd like to remember their love one. Sometimes this can lead to some rather unconventional choices.

"They can do anything as long as its legal and we tick the boxes on what we need to do then they can do anything that they want essentially," Foote laughs.

"We've done things like walk down the middle of Grey Lynn in a procession with musical instruments and bikes. We've taken coffins on [the back of] trucks."

Revealed: Behind the scenes at a funeral home
Photo credit: Newshub

So after being around death for so long, does she think differently about dying?

"For us it's an everyday event and we see that of course life ends," she told Newshub.

"It's quite a lovely thing to actually be part of that and just to know that actually being alive is amazing.

"One day it's going to end for all of us and to see that every day, it reminds us that life is a precious valuable time."

Death: A podcast about love, grief and hope is available on  Rova, iTunes, SpotifySoundCloud, and all major podcast platforms.

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