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Maitland East family keep dead body at home before funeral





  • Family brought their loved-one's body home instead of sending it to the morgue
  • Sam Aulton died from breast cancer in 2016, leaving behind a grieving family
  • 'We set up a room for her with candles, the kids did her hair and nails' family said
  • The NSW family is one of many now bucking the trend when it comes to funerals

By Kate Darvall For Daily Mail Australia

Published: 23:00 EDT, 20 March 2017 | Updated: 23:42 EDT, 20 March 2017

Rather than storing her body at a morgue until it was ready to be cremated, Sam Aulton's family brought it back home for four days.

Mrs Aulton was 46 when she died from breast cancer in December 2016, leaving behind a grieving husband, and two young daughters, Maggie, 12, and Ruby, 9.

Husband Brent Fairns said he and the children were 'in shock' and decided to bring her body back to the family home in East Maitland, NSW, to make the most of their time together.

'It allowed us to get her out of the hospital gown, put her in her favourite clothes, the kids plaited her hair and did her nails,' he told Daily Mail Australia. 

'It was a beautiful process and allowed us all to take the time to grieve.'

Mr Fairns' two young daughters, 12-year-old Maggie and nine-year-old Ruby, decorate their mother's casket at home Mr Fairns' two young daughters, 12-year-old Maggie and nine-year-old Ruby, decorate their mother's casket at home

Mr Fairns' two young daughters, 12-year-old Maggie and nine-year-old Ruby, decorate their mother's casket at home

Mr Fairns said his wife's passing happened so quickly he and the girls were not ready to simply walk away and leave her at the hospital.

'It really helped the kids because when their mum passed they only spent an hour with her at the hospital, it was all so short and sharp,' he said.

'The mind can play tricks on you so it really helped to bring home the reality she was gone.' 

Mr Fairns told Daily Mail Australia he had no idea he could take his wife's body home with them until he spoke to funeral celebrant Lola Rus-Hartland. 

Sam Aulton, 46, (pictured) died from breast cancer in December 2016 and left behind a grieving husband, and two young daughters, 12-year-old Maggie, and nine-year-old Ruby Sam Aulton, 46, (pictured) died from breast cancer in December 2016 and left behind a grieving husband, and two young daughters, 12-year-old Maggie, and nine-year-old Ruby

Sam Aulton, 46, (pictured) died from breast cancer in December 2016 and left behind a grieving husband, and two young daughters, 12-year-old Maggie, and nine-year-old Ruby

Sam Aulton was a much loved member of Crimson Tide alongside her good friend Sally Wilson Sam Aulton was a much loved member of Crimson Tide alongside her good friend Sally Wilson

Sam Aulton was a much loved member of Crimson Tide alongside her good friend Sally Wilson

'In this culture we tend to hide away from death a little bit,' he said. 

'Nobody in the public health system informs you about what choices you have.' 

Mr Fairns said there was a gap in the public health system and he wanted to close it. 

'I want to help bring some awareness to people out there about the fact this is possible. 

'It's possible to step into the unknown.' 

Mr Fairns said his wife's body ultimately spent four 'beautiful' days at home with the family before the funeral.  

The family's decision to bring Ms Aulton's body home shocked friends at first. 

Ms Aulton's good friend and band-member Sally Wilson said she found the concept 'confronting' but very quickly realised how freeing it was for everyone involved.

'I thought I'd find it too confronting because we were all in shock and grief and dealing with her loss, but I found it the complete opposite,' she told Daily Mail Australia. 

'It was just beautiful, it gave us the opportunity to really say goodbye properly.' 

Ms Wilson said it was not often families got the chance to kiss their loved one goodbye in such an intimate setting.

Sam Aulton (pictured) spent four days at home with family and friends after she died at hospital Sam Aulton (pictured) spent four days at home with family and friends after she died at hospital

Sam Aulton (pictured) spent four days at home with family and friends after she died at hospital

Ms Aulton's good friend and Crimson Tide band-member Sally Wilson said she found the concept 'confronting' but very quickly realised how freeing it was for everyone involved (Sam Aulton pictured here singing with her band)  Ms Aulton's good friend and Crimson Tide band-member Sally Wilson said she found the concept 'confronting' but very quickly realised how freeing it was for everyone involved (Sam Aulton pictured here singing with her band) 

Ms Aulton's good friend and Crimson Tide band-member Sally Wilson said she found the concept 'confronting' but very quickly realised how freeing it was for everyone involved (Sam Aulton pictured here singing with her band) 

'I got to tell her how much I loved her and kiss her goodbye. People don't usually get that opportunity,' she said. 

Ms Wilson said the decision to farewell Ms Aulton at home 'helped open my eyes to the alternative options out there'.  

'I didn't want to see her initially, I found it really difficult, but after I did I was so glad,' she said.  

'The whole day was just so beautiful, especially the casket and the way the kids decorated it.'  

In New South Wales, where Mr Fairns and his family live, a dead body can be cared for at home for up to five days.

If the body remains at home, there are however requirements it needs to be refrigerated for parts of the home-stay.

Mr Fairns' family is just one of many bucking the trend and opting to do things differently when it comes to death and funerals of loved ones. 

The average cost of a funeral in Australia ranges from about $5,000 to $7,000, but they often cost far more.

The cost, paired with the sometimes sudden passing of a loved-one, combines to make a difficult situation even harder.

The cost has turned some families away from a traditional funeral and forced them to search for alternative options.

When 89-year-old Petronila Benites died on Christmas Day 2016, her family said the cost paired with added stress became too much.

Ms benites daughter Luz Huamanyaure, a Sydney woman, said the funeral director made the situation so stressful she was forced to walk away.  

'He was pushing us, and just wanted business,' she told Fairfax.

She said she turned to the Salvation Army for help and the funeral was stress-free. 

When Tarah Acton’s (right) father Shane (left) died in 2016, she was responsible for covering his funeral costs, but wasn't in a position to do it When Tarah Acton’s (right) father Shane (left) died in 2016, she was responsible for covering his funeral costs, but wasn't in a position to do it

When Tarah Acton's (right) father Shane (left) died in 2016, she was responsible for covering his funeral costs, but wasn't in a position to do it

Families are now also turning to crowdfunding to help cover funeral costs.

When Tarah Acton's father Shane died in 2016, she was responsible for covering his funeral costs, but wasn't in a position to do it. 

The 21-year-old from New South Wales said she was forced to leave his body at the hospital for four-weeks while she raised enough money to bury him.

'I've been asking people if they could help me out and I've been trying to go to the local community centres and ask them. I'm finding it really hard,' she told the ABC.

She turned to a crowdfunding site for help, and eventually raised enough money, but said it was not without its struggle.

'I just feel really overwhelmed and traumatised, really,' she said.  

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