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Kari Olson will share the story of her 26-year-old son Morgan, who died of metastatic melanoma in December 2013. During Hospice and the 3-day vigil, friends and family surrounded Morgan, and Kari had the opportunity to explain home vigils to many young people who had not experienced them before. Community members, including MTN, lent support.
Kari and Morgan. Photo by Louise Hill.

Kari and Morgan. Photo by Louise Hill.

Marti Martin Robinson will share the story of the home vigil for her husband, Jeff, who died on hospice from terminal brain cancer (glioblastoma) on November 1, 2014. Marti had an open house over two days, using the MTN community coffin.
Marti and Jeff

Marti and Jeff

Meeting will take place Tuesday, May 12, 7-9 p.m., at the home of Anne Murphy, 2183 Wellesley Ave., St. Paul. MTN meetings are free and open to the public.

The Minnesota Threshold Network was a presence at the Minnesota Hospice and Palliative Care conference, April 19-21 in Bloomington. MTN shared an exhibitor table with the Funeral Consumers’ Alliance of Minnesota, with Anne Murphy and Heather Halen volunteer staffing for MTN and Jody Bystrum for FCA. Anne, Heater, and Jody spoke with many nurses, social workers, and volunteers and encouraged them to get to know utilize our organizations as a resource.  Anne reports that it was a very receptive crowd, and many of them commented that they are noticing that people are wanting to find ways to honor and celebrate life in new ways.

Our thanks to Anne and Heather for staffing the table, to FCA for the table-sharing arrangement, and to everyone who stopped by to talk about this important work.

partnering to share knowledge and resources!

Jody Bystrum and Anne Murphy at the MNHP conference.

April link roundup

Dying Green is a 26-minute documentary about natural burial and land conservation, set in the Appalachians. Dr. Billy Campbell’s dream is to conserve one million acres of land, using our own death to create wildlife preserves. Two copies of the DVD are available at Hennepin County Library.

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NEW FAQs about family-led after death care on the blog!

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Rest in Peace: Stories About Death Care is a list of long-form journalism pieces about death and death care, compiled by Emily Perper.

Link Roundup

1. From earthporm.com: “Bye-Bye Coffins, These Organic Burial Pods Turn Your Loved Ones Into Trees”

Based in Italy, the Capsula Mundi project created an organic, biodegradable burial pod that literally turns a person’s remains into nutrients for a beautiful tree growing directly up above. Unfortunately, these burial pods are only a concept idea for now.

Unfortunately, Italian law is keeping this at the concept stage for now.

 

2. A Soft Goodbye is the beautifully story of how a Canadian home funeral guide helped the author and her family grieve the loss of a cherished relative. “No one called 911 or a funeral home. Instead, Richard’s family rang their death midwife.”

3. “What to Do With Our Bodies After We Die”: The Urban Death Project is developing a new option which may appeal to those who want to minimize environmental harm and give something back to the earth when we die. It is a system designed for urban settings in which human bodies are transformed into a soil-enriching substance. This choice can provide a deeply spiritual element for those who see something sacred in the cycles of life and the processes of decomposition and regeneration.

Katrina Spode for the Urban Death Project.

Image by Katrina Spode for the Urban Death Project.

4. “The Trouble With Advance Directives”: New York Times article exploring the shortcomings of the current method of creating and maintaining advance directives in the US.

5. New video from Ask a Mortician: Everyone’s Favorite Conversation ~ Talking about Deathwith your parents.  Caitlin Doughty makes it almost fun, with some good questions at about 4 minutes in, to ask yourself first and foremost.

6. And be sure to catch Doughty’sirreverent take on traditional vs. natural/green burial.

When someone dies after an extended illness, caregivers must cope not only with the death of a loved one but with the loss of the role and life focus they may have had for weeks, months, or years.

Lois, Karly, and Gregg Swope

Lois, Karly, and Gregg Swope

Lois Swope will share the story of being a caregiver to her daughter Karly, who lived for 27 years with Rett Syndrome, a rare disorder that required around-the-clock care. Despite physical limitations, including her inability to speak, Karly communicated intellect, talents, and wisdom. This mother and daughter, whose lives were woven together, were separated by Karly’s death in 2012. Lois and her husband Gregg continue their heart-journey by sharing Karly’s story. For Karly’s blog, which she typed on a keyboard (see photo above) during the final 4 years of her life, visit https://spiritdances.Wordpress.com The meeting will be held Tuesday, April 14, 2015, from 7-9 p.m. at the home of Linda Bergh, 4315 Xerxes Ave. S., Minneapolis. MTN meetings are free and open to all. 

Anyone who was unable to attend the February 10 showing of This Dewdrop World, an award-winning documentary connecting planetary with personal loss, can see the full 38-minute movie at http://www.imdb.com/video/wab/vi4026574361/ or http://www.cultureunplugged.com/documentary/watch-online/play/50188/This-Dewdrop-World

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March 10, 2015, 7-9 p.m., at the home of Nancy Manahan and Becky Bohan, 21 East Rustic Lodge Ave, Minneapolis

Nancy & Diane, a month before Diane's death. Photo by Becky.

A helpful new tool, the Personal Self-Assessment Scale (PSAS), will be available at the meeting. This simple one-page chart can 1) clarify your wishes, 2) guide your choice of a health care agent (not necessarily your spouse or child), and 3) provide an easy opening for The Conversation with loved ones. It also can help you be more prepared and competent when someone you love is dying.

Although we can fill out an advanced directive by ourselves, MTN members find that working in community allows us to hear other points of view and find more clarity for our own questions.

A free Personal Self-Assessment Scale, created by emergency room physician Monica Williams-Murphy, M.D., author of It’s Ok to Die, is available at the It’s OK to Die website.

For short videos of people making end-of-life decisions and having thoughtful conversations with their loved ones, visit Honoring Choices Minnesota.

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