To all healthcare professionals including nurses, doctors, coroners, social workers, funeral home staff, embalmers, morgue staff, transfer personal and the many others who help serve families during their most difficult times of loss, thank you.

It is with much gratitude that I welcome you to Sacred Journey Pathways, a Community Centre for Death Care and Education. Although we all have different roles, our end goal is the same: to serve the family in the best way possible with the highest level of compassion, professionalism, and understanding. 

For those who have not yet met me personally, my name is Holly, and I am the founder of Sacred Journey Pathways. I have worked in the death, dying and bereavement world for the past 15 years; some of which has been served as Funeral Home staff.  As a Forensic Autopsy tech/trainer, I have had the pleasure of assisting in over 4000 autopsies…and counting! And as a Coroner, I have seen the immediate shock of death itself.  

Throughout these 15 years, I have seen a huge gap between the morgue and the funeral home. I will be the first to admit that before I really understood what happens in a funeral home, my morgue work was lacking the care and attention that I now see is vital for this type of work. I didn’t see the need to stitch properly because I knew the funeral home would do it. I didn’t dry off the body, nor did I bother with leaving the carotids long. 

Things really shifted for me when I was at the funeral home and witnessed the loving moment when a mom was viewing her child who had passed away. The funeral home staff had the utmost care and respect for this loved one.  The mother was so grateful to see her son one last time. I knew then that more care was required of the nurses, porters, morgue staff, and everyone else involved in the lives of those transitioning from life to death. 

There is much education needed, starting at the ward, to the morgue, to the funeral home so that the loved one can rest peacefully while their family sits by their side, saying their final farewell.  It is with this in mind that Sacred Journey Pathways offers Educational In-Services and Lunch & Learns.  We thrive for excellence in all aspects of decedent care. 

The following are 2 examples of Educational Lunch & Learns that we provide.  These can be changed to adapt to your specific needs. 

Educational Lunch & Learns for Morgue Staff include:

How to Care for Deceased Adults

  • Instruction on how to prop and align the head to prevent unwanted lividity in order to reduce blood pooling
  • The importance of leaving the carotid and femoral arteries in tact for successful embalming
  • Guidance on how to treat the facial skin to prevent drying artifact
  • The difference between the Y incision and the U incision and how they compare
  • Understanding why the notch on the skull cap is so important 

How to Care for Deceased Babies, Infants, and Children

  • Same as above, plus;
  • The value of gentle handling of the sensitive skin of a baby, allowing for palm and foot prints
  • Direction on how to suture without pulling and stretching the delicate collagenous skin of a baby
  • The importance of how the baby is bundled after autopsy to prevent breakdown of the skin due to moisture

Funeral home staff, please click here.

Healthcare staff, please click here.

For printable material and shareable documents, please click here.  

Educational Lunch & Learns for Hospital Staff include:

How to Care for Deceased Adults and their Family

  • Teaching skills to work with a grieving family 
  • Understanding disposition (burial and cremation)
  • Understanding the role and importance of a funeral home
  • Informing about what happens at an autopsy
  • Instruction on how to prop and align the head to prevent unwanted lividity and to reduce blood pooling
  • Learning what you can do to make embalming easier for the funeral home
  • Understanding what creates challenges for those working with the decedent after they leave the ward and how you can reduce these challenges

How to Care for Deceased Babies, Infants, Children and their Families

  • Same as above, plus;
  • What to do when mom and dad don’t share the same last name
  • Learning the options that families have after their baby has died
  • Educating when a funeral home is required and when they are not
  • Making available the option to take baby home for a short time
  • The importance of how the baby is bundled before taking to the morgue in order to prevent breakdown of the skin due to moisture
  • How to gently handle the sensitive skin of a baby, allowing for palm and footprints