This has been a busy week for the Minnesota Threshold Network!
Last Friday through Sunday was the national conference of the Funeral Consumer’s Alliance. The headline speaker was Caitlin Dougherty, pictured below, of “Ask a Mortician” You Tube fame. Her website Order of the Good Death has garnered lots of views and her whimsical yet down-to-earth presentations can be a gateway for people seeking information and alternatives to the commercialized funeral industry.
The FCA conference sponsored a field trip to Prairie Oaks Memorial Eco Gardens, a natural cemetery where we saw a grave from the previous week.
One exciting aspect of the conference was to experience the close bonds that are forming between the local chapter of FCA and MTN. We share a lot of the same goals, and it was inspiring to be around so many people committed to bringing choices to the American public. For more information about the local chapter, go to the new Minnesota FCA website
On Tuesday, MTN held our annual public forum, featuring for the first time, a national leader. Elizabeth Knox, President of the National Home Funeral Alliance, spoke about the healing power of caring for our own at death, honoring the dead by disturbing their body as little as possible, and the ways that death care nourishes our spirit, our culture, and our Earth. Almost 90 people attended the presentation at Macalester Plymouth United Church in St. Paul.
Thursday evening MTN member Anne Murphy of A Thousand Hands organized the showing of the award-winning documentary movie A Will for the Woods at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in St. Paul. Some of the 45 attendees stayed afterwards to participate in discussion groups about the film and natural burial.
Finally, this week MTN was contacted by members in Rochester and Bemidji who would like to form local Threshold Networks. Anyone who is interested in helping launch these outstate organizations is welcome. Just send an email to MTN or attend the MTN meeting in Rochester at the People’s Co-op on Monday, August 25 at 7:00 pm. For information contact Char Tarashanti at 507-289-0720.
Meanwhile, no meetings are planned in the Twin Cities for the summer. We will resume regular monthly meetings in September. A Will for the Woods will be shown at a fall meeting. Meeting dates and locations to follow.
Minnesota is hosting the 2014 Funeral Consumers Alliance Conference
When: Thursday, June 5-7th
Where: Park Plaza Hotel, 4460 W 78th St Cir, Bloomington, MN 55435
For more information: www.funerals.org/conference
Minnesota is host to the 2014 Funeral Consumers Alliance national conference. This is a fantastic opportunity to get to know your rights as a consumer and meet the people who are challenging and changing the way we view death and funerals in the US.
Among many presentations, Josh Slocum, author of Final Rights and executive director of the FCA will be speaking, as well as Caitlin Doughty, a Los Angeles-based mortician, death theorist, and the founder of The Order of the Good Death. A panel discussion on fighting unfair funeral regulations, with Minnesota State Representative Carolyn Laine, Verlin and Lisa Stoll of Crescent Tide Funeral and Cremation Services in St. Paul, and Katelynn McBride of Institute for Justice.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014, “Home After-Death Care & Green Burials: What Is It? Why Would You Want to do It?”
Annual public forum, featuring Elizabeth Knox, founder of Crossings: Caring for Our Own and president of the National Home Funeral Association. Elizabeth will share the story of her 7-year-old daughter’s home vigil, featured in the book Alison’s Gift.
Macalester Plymouth United Church, 1658 Lincoln Ave, Saint Paul, 7pm – 9 pm. Free and open to all.
Elizabeth Knox, NHFA President
TUESDAY May 13, 2014, 7pm meeting at the home of Nancy Manahan and Becky Bohan, 21 E. Rustic Lodge Ave., Minneapolis. Information and stories about Green Burial & Cremation, including options for both in Minnesota.
The next Meeting of the Minnesota Threshold Network is Monday, March 10, 7pm at the home of Nancy Manahan and Becky Bohan, 21 E. Rustic Lodge Ave., Minneapolis.
Focus of the meeting is the Conversation: how to discuss with our loved ones our wishes for end-of-life care and/or after-death care. People can prepare by going to Ellen Goodman’s Conversation Project, downloading the starter kit, and taking it to the meeting.
A secondary focus will be publicizing the June 10, 2014, 7pm annual MTN free public forum: Home-Based After Death Care: What is it? Why would anyone want to do it? with guest speaker Elizabeth Knox. Location to be announced.
Elizabeth Knox is president of the National Home Funeral Alliance and executive director of Crossings: Caring for Our Own, a national home funeral and green burial resource center. Elizabeth came to the love and wonder of home funeral work through personal loss. Since her daughter’s death, she has been an advocate for the healing power of home-based after-death care, teaching workshops internationally for the last 15 years, and establishing self-sufficient home funeral support circles in communities across the U.S.
So why would we choose a home funeral? Elizabeth Knox points to several considerations:
The Healing Power of Caring for Our Own Dead: What is the single most prevalent fear for humans? Death. And what is the single most healing act available to humans? Love. In caring for our departed as an act of love, we are able to transform our deepest fear.
Serving the Dead: We honor the vessel, the body of our beloved. We disturb it as little as possible. We tend to it with respect, and as if it is still inhabited by the one we love.
Serving the Families of the Dead: We believe that no one can better tend to our departed than those who have known and loved them. We give permission to care for a beloved family member. We offer truth in dispelling the misunderstandings that surround death care. We give the family guideposts on an unfamiliar path.
Serving the Earth: We stand for a return to simplicity in funeral care, transforming the need for the consumption of hard materials to bury in the earth—the concrete liners, the formaldehyde, the steel, the rare hardwood from the rainforest —and the fossil fuels consumed for cremation. We actually give something back to the earth when we are buried in it directly.
We know that caring for our own dead is not for everyone, but families should know that they have the choice. We can bring death care back into the home, where it began, and to our way of thinking, where it belongs. If we send our dead off to an institutional setting, those who love them best are not directly involved in their care and cannot bear witness to the transformation that happens when we care for our own.
The gentle but radical home funeral/green burial movement stands for the healing power of caring for our own departed. We serve the dead. We serve the families of the dead. We serve the Earth. We believe that no less than the healing of our society is at stake.
Minutes of the Minnesota Threshold Network Meeting February 10, 2014
Six were present on this bitterly cold night.
We watched clips from the French film, Amour, which chronicles the decline and death of an elderly woman cared for by her husband in their own apartment. Our conversation focused on the intimacy of the death journey, and how each individual/family response to it is personal and unique. This reinforced the awareness of the need to begin early to talk about choices, and to begin disengaging with life now. All agreed that hospice can contribute to dignity and quality of life when introduced earlier in the journey.