Die Remembering

L’Envers, in the Italian Piedmont, ancestral home of my mother’s people; click image to read about my trip back with my mother.

Some thoughts on the eve of an ancestral pilgrimage

Among the promises of a better life and a better death that fill my in-box is this recent promotion for a high-profile event dedicated to remembrance:

“…embracing our roots, family histories and feelings of loss can create unparalleled opportunities for self-awareness, personal growth and creative fulfillment.”

As an ardent believer in remembrance, and a practitioner of remembrance as a creative act, I might have held out this carrot myself, a few years back. But I’m now persuaded that treating remembrance as one more commodity in the spiritual marketplace of self-improvement schemes for self-fulfillment is part of the problem, not a solution. Read More

The Dilemma of Death & Language of Loss: A Conversation

Register for the full conference with the promo code DISCOUNT50, and $50 will be deducted from the price of your general admission ticket! Click image to go to conference page.
“Palliative care is one place where euphemisms go to enjoy job security and long life.” Stephen Jenkinson, Die Wise

Join me at the 7th Annual Afterlife Conference in Portland June 1-4, 2017 (see image caption for a great $50 discount) where I’ll facilitate a May 31st opening night community discussion on the language we use: The Dilemma of Death & Language of Loss: A Conversation.

Read on to meet the panelists who will get our May 31st conversation started: Karen Wyatt, MD, hospice physician and founder of End-of-Life UniversityWilliam Peters, MFT, MEd, director of The Shared Crossing Project, a research initiative to examine the shared-death experience; and Austyn Wells, spiritual medium who combines her certification in grief counseling with shamanism, energy medicine, and intuitive client interaction.  Read More

Keening: “To Publicly Display, Articulate & Channel the Grief of a Community”

The Irish Keening Woman (Library of Ireland)

Among the phrases I hear most often in my work as a funeral celebrant is,  “I don’t want anyone to be sad.” Among the most common sounds at a burial service: silence. Only rarely do I hear the bereaved cry out.

“Grief has become private, to be contained, controlled,” says Irish broadcaster Marie-Louise Muir in her BBC Radio documentary, Songs for the Dead, reflecting that her own daughters had never been to a wake, once considered the most Irish of traditions. “How very different in the time of keening, when women were paid to cry, sing, and wail over the dead, to publicly display, articulate, and channel the grief of a whole community.” Read More

2017 Natural Death Care Symposium

Learning & conversation to honor Earth Day & National Health Care Decisions Day

Choose from events in Portland, Hood River & Goldendale, WA

Learn about Natural Burial, Family-Directed Funerals & Rituals of Remembrance, tour our region’s leading natural and conservation burial grounds, play a thought-provoking Conversation Game:

Hood River, OR & Goldendale, WA Events
Portland Events
  • Wed, April 19, 7-9pm, Conversation Game, River View Cemetery, Portland, REGISTER, share on FACEBOOK
  • Sat, April 22, 9am-1pm Natural Death Care Workshop (followed by optional tours) River View Cemetery, Portland, REGISTER, share on FACEBOOK

Read what participants said about last year’s Natural Death Care Symposium.

Read More

Skeletons Out of the Closet: Body Farms & Final Wishes

Emily with the skull she gifted her husband on their final Christmas (credit: Steve Duin, The Oregonian)
How a young widow honored her husband’s unusual wishes, and her quest to find other young, widowed parents

Nicaraguan-born Frank Omier was a gifted artist who lived and painted all over the world. His wife Emily thought she knew the perfect present to get him for Christmas. As she told The Oregonian, “I was going to get him an easel. He wanted a skull, instead.” Read More