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.
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.
Walking with Death: Conscious Dying Practices for Compassion & Transformation
Friday, July 13, 2018, 6:00PM – 9:00PM…
Center for Intuitive Living
5356 Chicago Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55417-1734
Join us for an evening with Echo Bodine & Tarron Estes, founder of Conscious Dying Institute. This evening event introduces us to Conscious Dying’s sacred, healing practices for the caring of self and others during the end of life journey, and to Echo Bodine’s exploration of the soul’s perspective on consciousness that can be accessed before, during, and after death.
This event below features an intro to Conscious Dying Institute’s 3-day Conscious Dying Training in Mankato, September 6-8 at Sibley Park Pavilion. This Conscious Dying Training In Mankato will also double as Phase I of the Sacred Passage End of Life Doula Certificate. Phase II of the EOL Doula Certificate will be offered November 27-Dec 2 at a Buddhist Retreat Center on a lake north of Mankato. CDI is planning to run these to two events every year; the 3-day community event in the Spring (as a stand-alone or as a prerequisite to EOL doula certification) and the 5-day doula certification in late summer. For more information on this training, call 303-440-8018 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Minnesota Threshold Network invites you to our annual June Forum
Dying to Know: Conversations about Choices at the End-of-Life
open to friends, families, groups of all ages to explore together the choices around end-of-life
Participate in lively conversations about death and after death arrangements for yourself and/or loved ones.
Questions such as “What would your ideal death look like?” “Who would be there?” “How would I like to be honored after I die” and many more… Have the conversation you have wanted to have around death and dying
What is Death Over Dinner? It is a chance to gather in a familiar setting to talk with welcoming people about death, a discussion that most people try to avoid.
Death Over Dinner is an opportunity to have that difficult yet crucial end-of-life conversation we often tiptoe around. While sharing a meal together, groups will have a chance to ponder and discuss questions such as, “What was your first experience of death like?” or, “If you had a choice, where would you die?”
Food and beverage will be provided.
Please join us for an enlightening discussion!
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Mount Olivet Lutheran Church of Plymouth
(Fireside Room) 12235 Old Rockford Road
Plymouth, MN 55411
MTN Twin Cities will host a Deathwork/Network night in January. We call out to death doulas, funeral celebrants, coffin-makers, and anyone else who is working, as either a career or a passion, in the fields of conscious dying, family-directed death care, and green disposition, to meet others and share resources and knowledge.
In 2018, the Rochester Civic Theatre will premiere Stay With Me Awhile by Mary E. Johnson and Barbara Means Fraser. The play tells the stories of death, grief, and healing, collected from Johnson’s Vigil Project during and after her time as a Mayo chaplain.
MTN is organizing a group trip to see this unique and moving play on Sunday, February 11, 2018, at 2:00 p.m.
Karen Greer is our coordinator for this outing. In order to gauge interest, we are asking that folks who want to go with the MTN group contact Karen at email@example.com no later than Wednesday, November 22, 2017. This will allow plenty of time to coordinate transportation and determine whether we will have enough attendees for a group ticket rate. If we don’t have enough for the group rate, we will be asking folks to reserve tickets at rochestercivictheatre.org.
Karen, Eli, & Kathy attended a staged reading of this play in April of 2016 and found it to be a moving and well-crafted piece of theater. Seeing it fully staged with a larger MTN group should be a very enjoyable experience. We hope to see you there!
Join MTN Twin Cities for our annual reading information exchange: with a twist. Bring a book, article, or burning question that’s got you fired up and thinking about death and dying issues in new ways, even if it’s not directly related (though of course we love hearing about those, too). For instance, some questions we’ve been asking include: How do we fight hate with love? How might our culture’s fear and avoidance of death feed the acts of hate and oppression that have recently been committed in this country, and what can we do to change it?
We’ll each talk briefly about our materials and ideas and then use all of that excitement to help determine MTN TC’s direction for the coming year.
Our passions pull us in many directions. We embrace that complexity and look forward to seeing where it leads us.
The meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 19, 2017, at 7:00 pm. We will meet at the home of Anne Murphy, 287 Mount Curve Blvd, St. Paul 55105. MTN TC meetings are free and open to the public.