“I am convinced that it is not the fear of death, of our lives ending that haunts our sleep so much as the fear… that as far as the world is concerned, we might as well never have lived.” Rabbi Harold Kushner
Harvard educated theologian Stephen Jenkinson, a leading Canadian palliative care educator and author says in his film Griefwalker that for many people in their last stages of life, there is one fear greater than dying – that they will not be remembered.
Our highest honour as humans is to remember our dead. Once they are gone, the house is sold, the clothing is given away, the papers are signed, all that’s really left to us is their memory. It may be attached to a treasured possession, captured on film or in voice, or connected to something they created. But where their memory lives best is in us: in the story of their lives.
Standard practices often not enough
Everything. Everyone. Everywhere. Ends. From HBO’s “Six Feet Under”
Although we all know deep in our bones that our lives are finite, no one is ever really prepared for the death of a loved one. In the midst of pain, we step onto a conveyor belt of logistical details, often too distracted to be fully present to what is happening. We often defer to “what is normally done.”
Traditional memorial services are often templates that offer the ‘right’, and ‘politically correct’ things, with the goal of expediting people through the process efficiently. But there’s no flow-chart when you lose a loved one. Every one of us is unique, and our journey of grief is also unique.
Pathways to healing
A good ceremony offers three pathways to healing.
- It allows you to focus on your loved one, to offer gratitude and appreciation for their life. To acknowledge their impact to you, your world, and the bigger world.
- It allows you to focus on your own grief, to help integrate that they are truly gone, to resolve unresolved issues, and to access the traditions, values, and beliefs that are most soul-soothing for you.
- It helps people to support each other, mitigating feelings of loneliness and isolation. Our individual loads in life become lighter as we come together.
Capturing a unique life journey
We need to give voice to our sorrow and to remember well the person who has died. A good ceremony provides a genuine way to capture memories and to give voice to that sorrow.
I work with you to capture and celebrate the unique story of a life journey: who your loved one was, what mattered to them, and how they made a difference. We remember them. Their loves and their quirks. Their triumphs and their challenges. The legacy they have left for us. If you believe that spirit remains, to invite them to witness that legacy. We add rituals that help move them from who they were – a presence outside us – to who they will become – a presence inside us, in our memory, our hearts, and our bones.
There are many authentic paths to honouring a life. Click on the link for more information.
Ash scatterings, memorial plantings, dedications, community events.
Share the true essence of a loved one.
Intentional ways to meet the end.
Ceremony writing/coaching (coming soon)