MTN founding member Linda Bergh alerted us to this wonderful short video by Death with Dignity advocate and hospice physician Bruce Wilson, who is facing his own death from pancreatic cancer.
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.
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.
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 Death…with 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.
March 10, 2015, 7-9 p.m., at the home of Nancy Manahan and Becky Bohan, 21 East Rustic Lodge Ave, Minneapolis
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.
For short videos of people making end-of-life decisions and having thoughtful conversations with their loved ones, visit Honoring Choices Minnesota.
Twenty people attended the all-day “Caring for Our Own” workshop on November 22, taught by three Minnesota Threshold Network home funeral guides. In MTN’s six years of offering after-death care workshops, this was the largest!
After check-ins, the morning began with guided rememberings of death in our lives, as children and as adults. Anne Murphy presented a brief history of after-death care in the US. Linda Bergh guided the group in becoming more aware of the specialness of this sacred time in the hours and days after a beloved has died. Kyoko Katayama shared the poignant story of her husband’s death, care, and home vigil.
Anne led the afternoon session by demonstrating step-by-step practical care of the body, with Linda and Kyoko adding stories to illustrate the uniqueness of each experience, as well as the unifying theme of bringing comfort and meaning to families. Many connections were made as the participants opened to this powerful topic and became a community for the day.
It was a day of soul care as well as body care. As one person wrote on the evaluation, “I got a great sense of what after-death body care really is.” Another participant commented, “The stories made the day’s experience so authentic.” Another said, “I’m going home and writing out what I would like done for me when I die.”
Several people have asked when MTN will offer another workshop. Fortunately the presenters enjoyed working together and found it a good mix of backgrounds, experience, and interest. It’s likely they’ll be doing another workshop. The topics most requested on the evaluation forms were:
- Green burials
- Being with the dying
- Minnesota laws (Come to the Dec. 9 MTN meeting for this!)
- Facing our mortality
- Home vigils
Mark your calendars for upcoming MTN 2014-2015 monthly meetings, all on Tuesdays: October – 14 – Movie night: A Will for the Woods November 11 – Green Burials: the principles and the practicalities — with managers of local green cemeteries December 9 – Story night – A mortician’s experiences with natural burials plus State Rep. Carolyn Laine’s PowerPoint presentation January 13 – Death and Cookies – an open discussion about all aspects of death February 10 – Movie night: This Dewdrop World, connecting a personal death to planetary loss. March 10 – Preparing for death, advance directives, The Conversation(s), advance funeral planning April 14 – Looking at Caregiver Loss after an anticipated death May 12 – Story night: recent home vigils – Practicalities, challenges, benefits, and affects on the grieving process June annual forum TBA
We hope to see you there.