Seven years in the making, a Port Kembla not-for-profit funeral service has opened to strong demand.

Tender Funerals is in Port Kembla NSW, and their philosophy is ‘you are in charge’.  They are part of a community movement towards reclaiming the rites around death and dying, one of life’s most important experiences. For those who want to participate in this last significant rite of passage, it can be an enriching and life-affirming experience. Tender Funerals hope to empower people to take control of their dying, their deaths and their funerals.

In times gone by, the family was responsible for the preparing of the body and other rituals associated with death. It was considered an honour – the definitive mark of respect and compassion – and also a very natural and important part of the bereavement process. Jenny Briscoe-Hough is the Director and General Manager of Tender Funerals, and she believes funerals and funeral care should be meaningful, authentic, healing and beautiful.  Every person is unique and their funeral should reflect this.  Tender Funerals provide a range of services – many based on sustainable principles which enable you to have a much greater say in how your loved one is treated in dying and death.

Tender Funerals believe that when someone close dies, people have the right to say goodbye in their own way, taking as much time as they need. For some, there is a real need to spend time with their loved one, to bathe and dress them, to sit with them, to talk to them, simply to be close. For others, saying goodbye at the time of death is enough. It takes time to come to terms with the death of someone you love and even longer to decide how you wish to honour them.

There is no rush to make these decisions. In your own time and if you wish, you can perform all or some of the tasks associated with the funeral including writing an obituary, dressing a casket and preparing the body for viewing.  Tender Funerals will support you to do as much as you feel comfortable doing and will sensitively assist when required. Most importantly, they give you the opportunity to say goodbye in your own, meaningful way.

They are a community venture, and operate in ways that do not leave community members with large debt. They don’t take short cuts and always put people and relationships first.

Tender Funeral’s funeral director Amy Sagar said, “Funerals had so far cost between $2500 and $5000 – thousands less than traditional services – and had ranged from a simple visit to a crematorium, to a service with people in attendance.

Fundraising for the project, based out of a converted fire station on Military Road, was spearheaded by Our Community Project general manager Jenny Briscoe-Hough.

It received $100,000 in donations when it became the subject of an award-winning documentary made by Briscoe-Hough’s close friend Lynette Wallworth and aired nationally.

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