Friends of the St. Paul Public Library series: (New Ways of) Thinking About Dying

MTN Twin Cities members Anne Murphy, Anne Archbold, and Marilaurice Hemlock will presenters in the St. Paul Public Library’s upcoming discussion series “(New Ways of) Thinking About Dying.”

Presented by The Friends and Health Advocates—a Saint Paul-based public health consulting group which promotes communication that bridges differences in culture, language, and class.

From ‘conscious dying’ at home, to family-designed home vigils, to green burials, dying people and those who care for them are rediscovering and redefining what happens before, during and after death. Continue reading “Friends of the St. Paul Public Library series: (New Ways of) Thinking About Dying”


A short report on our December meeting

We met at Linda Bergh’s house. Thanks as always to Linda for being such a gracious hostess. 16 people were in attendance.
We watched Carolyn Laine’s excellent PowerPoint presentation on home funerals and green disposition. The presentation included an excerpt from Nancy Jewel Poer’s documentary The Most Excellent Dying of Theodore Jack Heckelman. A lively discussion followed, touching on steps that MTN, as individual members and as a group, may want to take to ensure that funeral directors and others who deal with end-of-life issues professionally know the law and give accurate information to funeral consumers.
Perhaps the most important take-away from Carolyn’s presentation is this:
“For a body to be embalmed, the family must agree to relinquish their legal right to natural death care. It is the family’s right by law to be in control of the care of their loved one.
What a wonderful and empowering message!
Our next meeting will be Tuesday, January 13, 2015.
Happy whatever-you-celebrate, and a joyous New Year!

WGBH on home death care

WGBH in Boston has a great 9-minute video and article on growing interest in home death care.

A quote from the piece:

“It’s nice to be able to spend time with the body even though the spirit is already gone,” she said. “It’s just the shell. But you can still grieve for yourself.”

Photo by Peg Lorenz via WGBH.

House Committee Passes Bill!

The House committee hearing this afternoon went REALLY well! Representative Carolyn Laine introduced the bill (HF3151) and explained the need for it. Heather Halen, a resident of Minneapolis whose husband died last fall, shared her experience of caring for his body at home. Her eloquent description of what it meant to have him nearby, to visit during sleepless nights and talk to, was riveting.  She wished that more people could have been included in this profound and sacred experience, a wish that would be realized by passage of this bill which would lift restrictions on the public viewing of unembalmed bodies.

Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease, testified as to the safety of having the public view an unembalmed body and be involved on the care of it. He said that pathogens died quickly after the death of the body.

The committee members asked several questions and then the vote was taken. The bill passed out of committee unanimously. It will now go to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote.

Next week the Senate will take up the issue.

It was wonderful to have so many supporters attend the hearing. Please try to make it to the next hearing–and let your Representative and Senator know how you feel about this issue!

You can see media coverage by clicking on the following links: