One night in 2008, a handful of people met in the Minneapolis home of Linda Bergh. Linda & Marianne Dietzel had held vigils for loved ones and begun to give home vigil workshops through their Beholding the Threshold. Becky Bohan and Nancy Manahan had published a book, Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully, and were giving presentations that included their experience of family-directed after-death care.
Those four began the Minnesota Threshold Network to educate themselves and others about the environmental, emotional and economic benefits of a more natural, less commercial approach to death, including conscious dying, home vigils, family-directed funerals, and natural burials. MTN now has almost 500 members.
Shortly after launching MTN, we were shocked to learn that the home vigils we had done for our loved ones were no longer legal in Minnesota! We approached MN State Representative (now Senator) Carolyn Laine, and worked with her to change the law in 2010 to allow 4-day vigils, public visitations on private property, and the right of families to transport a body to a cemetery or crematorium.
Since 2008, MTN has been holding monthly educational meeting, free and open to the public. We also offer home vigil trainings; host biannual regional retreats for home funeral activists from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa; and offer volunteer services to individuals and families wanting support at the threshold of death.
Our email newsletter announces upcoming MTN and community events, news items, and helpful links. Our web site has a wealth of information and resources including local death doulas, supportive funeral homes, and green final disposition options in Minnesota. Over 500 people follow our Facebook page.
We collaborate with the larger community. We have offered field trips to natural burial grounds & Minnesota’s only alkaline hydrolysis facility. We have invited representatives from faith communities to speak at our meetings, and connected with local and state organizations like the U of M School of Mortuary Science, hospices, the Minnesota Council on Death Education and Support, and others. We give talks to community, professional, and educational groups all over the state and work closely with the volunteers and professionals of the Minnesota Death Collaborative.
While MTN works to build good relationships with local businesses whose interests align with ours, we don’t endorse specific commercial enterprises.
What makes MTN successful? One feature may be our collaborative structure. The leadership circle has grown from the original four to the current thirteen. We each bring our strengths, and have found that when one person needs to pull back, another one steps in. Many MTN members live in outstate Minnesota, and a few years ago, Deah Kinion started a SE Minnesota chapter in Rochester with its own Facebook page.
Although MTN is an umbrella where any volunteers or professionals in the death and dying world can find kindred spirits, MTN is unique as the only group in Minnesota to focus on AFTER-death care.
To receive occasional news and meeting dates, email firstname.lastname@example.org.