September Event: Home Vigil Story & Water Ritual Blessings for Grief

Minnesota Threshold Network begins its yearlong focus on Home Vigils with a deeply personal story and an opportunity to participate in a Water Grief Ritual. Join us on September 21st from 7-9 PM CT.

Home Vigils exist in all cultures, but for many people, death has been separated from life by our institutions. MTN shares examples of how home vigils can become commonplace again. We want to inspire those who are closest to the deceased to personalize their own approach to say their final good-byes. Home Vigils are often in addition to more formal public funerals.

Home Vigil Story – Part 1

Join us for Paul Treuer’s compelling story of his father’s 3-day home vigil. Paul’s children had been born at home, and Paul recalled how important that had been for his wife and him. However, a home vigil is not part of normal hospice care and would not have happened without Paul’s desire to care for his father’s body and provide space for the family to honor and grieve him at home. Thankfully, the hospice team included someone who could facilitate a seamless transition from hospice care to family care. Paul hopes you will listen to his radio interview and formulate questions. 

Water Ritual Blessing for Grief – Part 2

Join us for a ritual that offers an opportunity to express grief for any losses you may be experiencing, past or current. The ritual is simple, private, and intimate. In preparation, you will receive an email from MTN before the event with ideas on how to build a simple altar to recognize and honor the loss.

Paul Treuer is a retired college educator from Duluth. His story was part of, Through The End of Life series by Two  Harbors Community Radio. Stream it at KTWH.org, Episode 6. Ellen Hufschmidt is a Chaplain, Ritualist, Counselor, and Author of With Our Own Hands: A Guidebook for Ritual Blessing of the Dead. She served as a Grief Counselor for 10 years at Essentia Hospice in Duluth, She was a co-producer and lead interviewer of Through the End of Life Series Ellen is on the Minnesota Threshold Network leadership team.

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88276846054

Meeting ID: 882 7684 6054

May 14: Art, Poetry, Music, and Ritual for Conscious Dying & Home Funerals

cardboard coffin
Tuesday, May 14, 7:00-9:00 pm. Spirit of St. Stephens, 2201 1st Ave S., Minneapolis (enter on 1st Av. S. to the Fireplace Room)
How do you create a vigil or a home funeral? Where do you find the art, poetry, music, and rituals that create meaning and comfort for you and your loved ones?
Learn how you can include your family and friends in the dying process and a home vigil with items you already have in your home. Feel free to bring songs to be sung, poetry to be read, shawls, statues, artwork, and/or pictures of a vigil space — if you have ever helped create one or have experienced one.
MTN meetings are free and open to all, but donations and love offerings are welcome.

March 5, 2019: End-of-Life Doulas

Due to snow storms, the Feb. 12, 2017, End-of-Life Doula presentation has been moved to Tuesday, March 5 from 7:00 to 9:00pm, 7801 E Bush Lake Road, Bloomington, MN

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Mary Ann Boe, Jane Whitlock and Christy Moe Marek are end of Life Doulas providing companioning, resources, and support at the end of life. Stories from the field and information about the role of an End of Life Doula, along with time for Q&A.

For a fabulous November 2018 TEDx talk on end of life doulas by Jane Whitlock, see www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZ-LI68xS8g

August link roundup

TEDx “Let’s Talk About Death”
For an honest 15-minute TEDx presentation, check out the 2015 “Let’s Talk About Death” by Rochelle Martin, a Canadian crisis-care RN and death midwife.
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A recent New Republic in-depth story on family-directed after-death care represents “an unprecedented effort to truly listen to Elizabeth Knox and Merilynne Rush” (home funeral educators in Maryland and Michigan respectively) according to National Home Funeral President Lee Webster.
Who Owns the Dead?
“It was a Sunday in the autumn of 1995, and Rob Sanders was driving his three kids from his house in Baltimore to the house of his ex-wife, Elizabeth Knox, in Silver Spring, Maryland. The kids rotated who got to sit in the front seat, and today was seven-year-old Alison’s turn. The boys wanted to hear the Redskins game, and when Alison leaned forward to fiddle with the radio, Sanders told her to sit back—he would find it.
“When he looked up, the light had turned red, and he braked, belatedly. Skidding into the intersection at about 14 miles an hour, he hit another car, and the passenger-side airbag deployed. The airbag—one of those early models designed to protect a full-sized adult male in a much more violent crash—struck Alison “with the force of a heavyweight boxer,” as Knox would later put it, rendering the girl unconscious and braindead in an instant.”

A Busy Week for MTN!

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.

Caitlin Dougherty
Caitlin Dougherty

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.

Prairie Oaks grave site
A natural burial site at Prairie Oaks Memorial Eco Garden

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

Beth Knox Presentation
Elizabeth Knox

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.

Beth and MTN members
Linda Bergh, Elizabeth Knox (featured speaker), Anne Murphy, Rep. Carolyn Laine, Marianne Dietzel, Becky Bohan, Nancy Manahan, and Kathy Huset at MTN June 10 Forum

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.