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Charles Cowling



Parents of the children of Newtown:

Our hearts are with you. We know from experience how lost you must feel. We also know how there is a system in place where you feel you are being kept from the one thing that need above all else – to be with your child. 

We want you to know that you have the right to touch and see and be with your child, and to bring him and her home to say goodbye, without further intervention. We want you to know that you have the right to ask the Medical Examiner to release your child to your arms, so that you may say goodbye on your own terms and in your own time. You had no choice in what has happened; you do have the choice to care for your child at home.

 Here are some facts:

You still have some power even if you feel powerless.

This is your child and not the state’s possession. 

You have right to see and touch your child right now.

You can determine what happens to their bodies.

You can voice opposition to an autopsy on religious grounds.

Embalming is not necessary and not required by law and is only a further invasion of the body of your child.

Please accept these words from those who only wish you some comfort. 

We offer them in love and peace. 


Statement by the National Home Funeral Alliance


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Ru Callender
9 years ago

Well, you could do worse than the fifth edition of The Natural Death Handbook, as close to a summation of all the facts around a dead body that you can get. We are indeed all indebted to John Bradfield, and also to our ancestral patron Lord Young of Dartington for introducing The Dead Citizen’s Charter to clarify our expectations of how we should be treated post mortem. I agree with you Charles, the coroner does have absolute authority over a dead body in their care. They in fact, are representing the rights of the dead themselves, and generally use their… Read more »

9 years ago

My understanding is that the Coroner is all-powerful and rightly so for the greater good. However, it would be good to know the absolute rights of ownership/access to a dead body. I would like to see an equivalent statement of fact for Britain.

9 years ago

Charles, thanks so much for this fascinating link – at first glance a tome to be savoured with a good port wine, so I think I’ll save it for a christmas day treat while the world around me is stuffing tinsel up its arse!

gloria mundi
9 years ago

It’s just agony, isn’t it? At least this excellent statement might help – if anything can.

9 years ago
Reply to  gloria mundi

I agree, GM, this statement is very helpful, but it’s clearly American and I wonder how much of it applies in England – for example, is it REALLY true that you can touch a body whilst it is in the custody of the coroner pending a post-mortem? If you do voice opposition to a P.M., does it carry any sway at all? Perhaps an English translation of the above would be a powerful document, if only to bring to public attention the issues around who has what authority over a dead body in advance of a funeral, and the freedoms… Read more »