Let me begin by saying that this whole post is dedicated to my sister, Denni, who managed somehow to get outside of her fear and disgust with all bodily secretions in order that she might help me with Kate's home funeral. All her life, Denni has avoided the sights and smells of what comes out of our orifices. I can still see her fanning the air vigorously while changing one of her children's diapers; gagging over the sight of blood when someone got a scrape; running at MACH speed to avoid someone in the process of vomiting. Me? I was captivated by it all, and still am. These are signs of LIFE!
Shrouding Sisters Blog
So I remember back in the summer of 2014, when I was plotting how to begin a Death Cafe in our quaint little city, I came across the funniest stories about the use of the name "Death Cafe." People apparently didn't cotton to it all the time, thinking it cast "doom and gloom" on any social atmosphere. Like, how were you supposed to be convivial and congenial with nomenclature like DEATH defining your surroundings? Wouldn't it boost attendance if you took the word "death" out of the name?
Recently I heard the NICEST married couple proclaim that they were DEAD SET on going out of this world anonymously. They loved the idea of donating their bodies to medical schools first and foremost. But if for any reason that would not work out, they were choosing to have a green burial. And they needed me to make sure that the cemetery they had in mind would bury them without any sort of marker. "We just want to be thrown in the woods!" Well, as it turns out, said cemetery is happy to oblige.
It's the post-Thanksgiving holiday season...time of angels and angst; beauty and the blahs; carols and crises. We came to the table to give thanks last month, and if it was anything like my day, things were so rushed I couldn't even get the luncheon guests to say a blessing. Also on my mind were the memories of Thanksgivings past and all those precious loved ones no longer at the table with us. Our blessed ancestors. To honor these beloved deads, there is a tradition in many cultures around the world of setting a place for them at the table. Holding space for grief and remembrance.
One morning earlier this year I received a phone call from a woman named Alisa. Less than two minutes in to the conversation I knew this was the person associated with the Abundance Community in Pittsboro. She and her husband had managed to get Stephen Jenkinson to come down for a public speaking event. I remember nearly passing out in the bakery when I espied the poster for this event, thinking THE Stephen Jenkinson??? In a little church in PITTSBORO??? As I had just finished reading Jenkinson's "Die Wise," I was eager to hear him in person.
The Triangle Land Conservancy (TLC) hosted their "Wild Ideas for Getting Outside" Expo on March 9. Jenny and I were invited to have a table at this event. Over 200 guests from all over the Research Triangle showed up to learn about innovative ideas for safeguarding clean water, protecting natural habitats, supporting local farms and food, and connecting people with nature. I would be hard pressed to think of a more beautiful way to connect with nature than to "go green" at death!
Whew! Who could imagine that North Carolina would be such a hotbed of activity where consumer funeral rights are concerned??!! While I can't say my phone has been ringing off the hook, I have had a fair share of phone calls related to these issues. Two came within a week of each other, prompting me to contact both the National Home Funeral Alliance (NHFA) AND Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA) headquarters. Both concerned a daughter or son's rights to their mother's bodies at death.
I am so inspired by Anne Weston, a recent acquaintance, who is hell-bent on establishing a green cemetery in this part of the state! A few weeks ago she had reached out to Jenny, my dear friend and home funeral guide mentor, to see if they could meet for lunch to discuss said green cemetery. Jenny then phoned me to ask if I could join them. Guess you figured out the answer to THAT question.... We had a very lively discussion for two hours, Anne all the while flipping through her 3-ring notebook where every sub-topic imaginable having to do with green burial was neatly arranged.
Thanks to Hannah Shapiro, Intern with the Triangle Land Conservancy (TLC), for this interview! This is from the TLC Blog, THE DIRT.