End of Life Threads Ceremonies
Celebrations of lives lived well
“All rituals on earth are healing gestures.
They are symbolic performances which heal psychic wounds and help us make the great transitions in life.”
– Marie- Louise von Franz, The Way of the Dream
Approaches to Ceremonies of Passing
Illness, dying and death are not easy to walk with. They can present the biggest spiritual challenges that many of us will face. In our confusion and deep grief, we need others to stay with us. I offer two paths of support and healing.
As a Funeral Celebrant, I create meaningful ceremonies that reflect your unique spiritual values, and bring renewal through inspired language, ritual, nature and love.
As a Death Doula, I offer companionship on the path of life and death, helping you, your family and friends to find a way through difficult times.
Why Death Doula? As a Funeral celebrant for the past 12 years, it was heartbreaking to see families struggle with important decisions at the very time of their beloved’s death. Though I knew they really needed to simply let go of everything and grieve, arrangements had to be made, often, within minutes. Conversations had to happen, phone calls made, vehicles organized. What to do now, tomorrow, after death? Who can we rely on? How will it all happen?
Inspired by meeting the remarkable visionary Tarron Estes of Conscious Dying Institute in 2016, I signed on for her 2017 Death Doula training in Vancouver. www.consciousdyinginstitute.org
It was life-changing. Not only did I meet my own death in imaginative ritual, but those of my beloveds, and those still to come.
Now, as a Certified Death Doula, I have more to offer you and your families by way of supportive and preparatory services before death.
In this service, I am joined by skilled colleagues, all affiliated with the Conscious Dying Institute. Our local site is www.bcendoflifecompanions.com
We support each other’s work in the community, deepen our practices, and offer complementary therapies and healing rituals.
When you choose to work with any one of us, you are also being carried by a compassionate circle of trained Death Doulas who are committed to this path as their heart’s work.
Death Doula Services
“Death is a Wild Night and a New Road”
– Emily Dickinson
Living Fully Today
There are simple, yet meaningful ceremonies we can create before death which can bring people together with a shared purpose.
A Living Memorial is a gathering for a person who is present, and very much alive. Certain rituals can help participants create sacred space, align their intentions, and share the joys and struggles of a lifetime. It can support everyone in that moment, as well as in the challenging time to come. Nobody needs to face painful situations alone.
In recognizing our mortality, we might choose to engage in preparing for death in ways such as Legacy Letters, exploring the five areas of life, and pre-planning our way forward in a Conscious Dying Institute process called the Best Three Months, supporting completion of goals.
Approaching the Threshold
Death Doulas offer many services of support at this time, from
- Facilitating family circles
- Guiding the completion of end-of-life plans
- Hands-on healing rituals, including anointing of the body
- Providing life-affirming care before, nearing and after death
- Create beautiful rites of passage guided by the wishes of families and patients
- Bringing music, beauty and other forms of spiritual nourishment as requested
Death: Crossing the Great Sea
An actively dying person can still hear what is being said. They may speak to someone who is not present, or have a conversation with someone already deceased. There are many mysteries at the threshold, and this time of attending can be inspiring, comforting and also frightening.
Death Doulas are willing to spend as much, or as little time, as requested, in sitting vigil beside the dying person, supporting the dying process and those in attendance.
After last breath, a quietness descends.
Now it’s a good time to clear the room of nonessentials, sing or play chosen music, and enter into the sacred stillness. It is unlike any other time, a blessing to be present.
After Death: Care of the Body
Washing the body is an ancient, beautiful and soulful practice to honour a beloved who might have washed you many times.
I support and guide you with this, and provide supplies, including a variety of aromatic oils for your choice. Afterwards, we can beautify the body of the beloved with silks, flowers, and candles. I bring all of these materials, and you may also have treasured remembrances to include.
It’s a time to pray, speak aloud to the body, share stories, cry and laugh together, to read spiritual literature or poetry.
The 3-day vigil which happens after death is an extraordinary time to support the grieving process in community. Taking turns sitting with the deceased for three days nurtures meaningful conversation, prayer, tears and laughter, dreams, even divine play.
I support the setting up of a wakeboard, dry ice and ice packs, as well as provide exquisite silk cloths, candles (both beeswax, and battery) and vases for flowers.
If there has been a home vigil, I will support the transfer of the body from the house for the last time with simple ceremony.
Anniversaries and Milestones
Many cultures have strong traditional practices for carrying the memory of the deceased forth into life. Anniversaries during the first year offer natural times to honor the painful events we must get through without our loved ones: Christmas, birthdays, and so on. Planning a small ritual to acknowledge and name the event, maybe with a lit candle by a photo, and a poem read aloud, or a circle of intimate friends may be enough. At other times, we can reprise a full ceremony with rituals similar or very different from the funeral.
We are so grateful for the many ‘angels’ that you brought together at Mom’s bedside before, during and after her passing. We will always carry with us the beauty of the angelic Threshold Choir, the Bell Choir, the cello and lyre music, eurythmy…it all lifted our spirits, as well as our mother’s. And it was wonderful that you sought and brought in an Anglican minister to bring her solace. With love and gratitude always.
Thank you, deeply, for everything you have done for our family this past week, from putting us in touch with our funeral director the evening that my dad passed away, to coming to the hospital despite your prior engagement, to helping us bring his body home and setting up a beautiful 3-day vigil, to visiting on a daily basis, to working with us in our grieving, to celebrating his service today.
You have helped me immensely through my grief this week. For those who visited our home when dad’s body was here, I believe that helped them. And for all those who attended today, I believed it helped them. And, in the end, I believe you have helped us accompany my dad’s soul with comfort and ease. For these things, I am deeply grateful to you.
Funerals & Ceremonies of Remembrance
“The mark of a good death is that it is a village making event.”
– Stephen Jenkinson (orphanwisdom.org)
A funeral or memorial ceremony celebrates the fullness of a lifetime, initiates the grieving process, and initiates all those present into a fuller experience of, and appreciation for, all life.
Every life has meaning and deserves to be celebrated.
A funeral is a retelling and unravelling of the beloved’s threads of life.
Whether your family is secular, religious, spiritual or interfaith, I can craft a meaningful, memorable, fitting end-of-life tribute for your loved one that respects your family’s values.
During unhurried meetings, we will carefully craft a ceremony with your choice of music, quotations, readings, symbols and rituals. Every detail will be checked and approved by you and your family.
With compassion and care, I will officiate the ceremony at the funeral home, crematorium, cemetery or location of your choice.
After the funeral, your family will receive a beautiful copy of the ceremony as a keepsake.
As a Life Cycle Celebrant, my professional training has included studies in the history and practice of ritual, ceremony and funeral traditions in world cultures and religions. I am prepared to create, re-shape, modernize or update any aspect of end-of-life ceremony.
Life Threads Ceremonies is committed to offer end-of-life vigil, healing circles, and end-of-life ceremony for low cost, or no cost, as social benefit, when possible.
Those who are worn out and crushed by this mourning,
let your hearts consider this: This is the path that has existed from the time
of creation and will exist forever.
Many have drunk from it and many will yet drink.
As was the first meal, so shall be the last.
May the master of comfort comfort you.
Blessed are those who comfort the mourners.
– Jewish blessing
Thank you, Abegael, for helping us give our Dad the send off he deserved. I appreciated your kind and thoughtful approach, as well as your ability to work with our vision of the day. You quickly understood and embraced the type of man he was. We are all so very grateful.
The ceremony was beautiful. It was heartwarming. The most special moment for me was turning around and seeing everybody singing and holding candles at the end. I could have stayed and watched for a long, long time. So many people came up to me after the ceremony and expressed how beautiful it was. I believe it touched many people’s souls. A good friend of mine embraced me at the exit and, crying, said it was “the most beautiful funeral she had ever been to.”
What a remarkable time! Thank you so much for your willingness to embrace so beautifully an end of life ceremony for our dear mother Dorothy, and dear father Ed. And thank you for listening so well to our stories, and presenting so well the essence of our parents’ lives in the ceremony. As Dorothy would have said, “It was a very tasty afternoon”. Yes, indeed!