a documentary film of a Harlem Funeral Director, by Christine Turner
You are invited to join MN Threshold Network’s (MTN) program to learn with us about traditional Black funerals as carried out by Owens Funeral Home in both Harlem, NY and in NC. In this film your senses will be touched and your heart warmed by the love, music and care that is taken to honor the deceased and family on their journey to freedom by going home. After the film there will be a facilitated discussion. We suggest that in preparation for this film you also watch “Why are Black and White Funeral Homes STILL Separate?” a seventeen-minute interview with Black funeral historian Dr. Kami Fletcher by Caitlin Doughty on her Ask a Mortician channel, for greater cultural context from which this particular type of black homegoing comes from. MTN will not be teaching, only sharing a resource for the purpose of greater cultural appreciation and understanding.
When: 7:00pm, Tuesday, October 20, 2020 (please note the new date of the 3rd Tuesday of the month)
Where: Zoom Invitation below
In case you can’t attend but still want to see the films:
Please join us on Tuesday, June 9, 7-9 p.m. (Central Time), as MTN members Anne Archbold, Marilaurice Hemlock, and Karen Greer share their experiences with creating and facilitating memorial services during the complicated coronavirus time.
Even though we at MTN view funeral possibilities in a much broader context than many, this pandemic has gotten us to stretch even further – to Zoom!
Zoom helps us be a part of a memorable funeral from our living room or office.
It can be a smaller group setting where you share with others in an informal way rather than a formal setting.
Families can tell stories and show memorabilia that was left behind by the deceased.
Zoom can save us from flying across the country to attend a relative or friend’s funeral.
Meeting ID: 764 907 5003
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Meeting ID: 764 907 5003
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kbEkmdwMlZ
In light of the current pandemic, we want to provide a place to share our experience of living in this challenging time. We will return to the original topic of this May meeting at a later time.
If you need assistance, call the MN End-of-Life Doula hotline: 1-888-351-8999
A quote on solitude and community by Parker Palmer:
Solitude does not necessarily mean living apart from others; rather, it means never living apart from one’s self. It is not about the absence of other people—it is about being fully present to ourselves, whether or not we are with others. Community does not necessarily mean living face-to-face with others; rather, it means never losing the awareness that we are connected to each other. It is not about the presence of other people—it is about being fully open to the reality of relationship, whether or not we are alone.
The MTN Twin Cities May event will take place on Tuesday, May 12, 2020, 7 – 9 p.m. See the end of this email for details on accessing the meeting.
This session is designed for people who may not feel that they have enough social or personal support to have the kind of end-of-life experience and an intimate home vigil to honor their life, in the way they may want.
There will be two sections to the evening. First how to begin to think about the support you already have. but not fully recognized. The second half will help you learn about resources and volunteers that are available through MN Threshold Network.
Also appropriate for individuals and people who represent social services that work with folks who many find themselves in this situation such a people living in halfway houses, programs, independent elderly with little family, people who feel outside familial social supports, network of friends that function like family, etc. Come join us on-line for the evening’s program.
In Minnesota, a group of last responders, death educators, and EOLDs in our community created “Loving, Living, and Dying During COVID-19” as a way to share and distribute accurate, compassionate and relevant information. This was designed to be helpful to everyone in Minnesota – families, caregivers, guides. Thanks to the thoughtful team that worked on this so quickly. Please share it as widely as you can.
Hello and happy Wednesday, Thresholders! We hope this message finds you as well as can be in these unusual times.
Most of you will have guessed this already, especially with Governor Walz’s newly released Stay-at-Home order, but we want to make it official:
The April Minnesota Threshold Network Meeting has been postponed.
We invite you stay home with your loved ones, if you’re able. Perhaps take the time to complete or review your advance directives, wills, and funeral wishes. Maybe check out the resources on the MTN website. And if you’re an essential services provider who’s still out there working: thank you. We appreciate everything you do for the health and welfare of Minnesota.
What do May and June hold for MTN? Well, we’re not sure yet. We invite you to keep your eyes on your inbox and the MTN Facebook page for future announcements.
Let’s continue to check in with each other and look out for one another. We’re all in this together. Even while we’re apart.
Reflections on Minnesota Threshold Network Meeting of March 9, 2020,
Reader’s Theater of A Death Caring Community…
Over 65 people and 18 readers filled the space at Falcon Heights United Church of Christ. The Reader’s Theater of A Death Caring Community was a response to the accidental deaths of two teens. Created for a national conference in 2019, this was the first presentation in Minnesota.
BACKGROUND for those not at the meeting:
Dennis Dietzel: “When Nina (our daughter) and Kirsten (Linda’s daughter) were killed in an automobile accident and Linda was severely injured, we were so fortunate that the community where the accident occurred had experience with a home vigil. When that was offered as a possibility, we knew immediately it was the right thing. For us and so many others it provided a beginning to our grief journey that was surrounded by love and beauty, and provided a touchstone which has allowed us to give back to others over the years. Just as for birth, the time of death is too precious to give over to others if it is possible for us to claim it for ourselves and our loved ones who have crossed the threshold.”
Linda Bergh: When Marianne and Dennis and I were asked to share our experience for a national conference, we contacted people in NY (and family from Minnesota) and asked them to write their story. Then we created a script and shared it, with people reading their own parts. It was presented at Sacred Gateway Conference on Conscious Dying and After Death Care, and the Journey Beyond in May 2019 for 150 people in Harlemville, NY, where the accident happened in 1996.
This year MTN supported us in sharing this same script – but with readers from Minnesota. All of the readers knew the Dietzel and Bergh families at the time of the accident.
From Ann, attendee: I could see through the story that Kirsten and Nina had laid a foundation, scattered seeds, and ignited love in the community that then became shelter for their passing and solace for their MN families. . . . . I could feel that love when one reader described the dark road and four broken-hearted travelers, coming upon the house with lights, filled with love and a safe place to weep and be with Nina and Kirsten in death.
From Karen, MTN member/leader: I saw Monday evening as a great undertaking and a Celebration of the Story of 1996 for the three of you parents, your daughters and sons and your communities. Thanks so much for your “eloquent authenticity” in sharing the pain and the joy and connectedness that you all experienced. I loved the music as a beautiful expression of the “pauses” that we all need to take in life. You did a wonderful job on the saxophone, piano and lyre.
“Community building in action.”
“I do hope you’ll be able to share your story at other places in the future.”
“I came away with one sentence: “Love is greater than loss.”
From Linda Bergh: What a remarkable evening, I am grateful for this conscious dying work and a community open to experiencing our learnings about how love is always here, even in the most challenging moments. After the reading last night, we talked about community, and I realized this morning that the event itself was an expression of community. Having the courage to be present to each other’s stories builds connection, so that we can listen when our own lives ask us to step up.
With the music of the saxophone and piano still ringing deep inside, I want to thank those who read, those who came, and those who were with us in spirit.
Here is a segment from Kirsten and Nina’s dear friend who was 15 when the accident happened:
Hours and hours of travel – Warm welcoming arms of comfort. The hospital bed with Linda curled up in shock Then – Arriving where I did not want to be ……
A living room I had been in just a few weeks earlier when I had visited Kirsten before I left for school in France. I was afraid to go in. Yet in all the awfulness of the moment of seeing Kirsten and Nina’s bodies, what I found was a welcoming warm space. Grief and shock were everywhere in the room, but it was not a scary place. This community of people I hardly knew had created a space where I felt welcomed and simply allowed to be with my friends’bodies with no expectations. I felt so grateful. Food, candles, gentle quiet, music, warm hugs, crying together.
With the sudden nature of these deaths, the vigil gave me the space and time to say good-bye and be with Kirsten and Nina’s spirits. I spent hours just being there next to the wooden coffins in the middle of the living room. I stroked their hair, sang to them, talked to them. I was made to feel that this was normal and okay, that grieving and death can be part of community life. I believe my grief process was greatly impacted by the way this community held space for the deaths of my dear friends.
This Reader’s Theater has been edited for the Minnesota Threshold Network after its debut in NY as a part of a national conference. Come hear how individual community members reflect on their part in the holding of the two teenagers, Nina and Kirsten, and their families in 1996 in Harlemville, NY – both the time leading up to the car accident and throughout the home vigil and the following days. The girls’ parents, Linda Bergh, Marianne and Dennis Dietzel will be present and read their parts. Linda and Marianne are founding members of MTN.
All MTN events are free and open to the public. Donations from the heart are always welcome and help pay for brochure printing and venue rental.
Accessibility and Parking at the Falcon Heights Church:
The meeting is on the main floor, with the entrance to building accessible via sidewalk from the curb.
One gender-neutral/accessible bathroom and two single-gender bathrooms available on main floor.
There is ample parking in lot across the street, including disability spots.