Most of CINDEA
’s recent energy has gone into the pan-death symposium (report below). We are now following up on various projects that had to be laid aside to work on the symposium.
Report on 2014 Pan-Death Symposium
“A New Approach to Death in the 21st Century”
— a pan-death symposium
and Journeying Beyond
co-sponsored the first pan-death (before, during and after death) symposium in Victoria, BC, Canada, on February 22, 2014. Over 60 people gathered for the full-day event — most from Victoria, but including others from Alberta and California.
The presenters — many of them Canadian innovators in their field — spoke with a deep passion for the service that they offer. The participants were very engaged by both the various kinds of support available, and how one could augment another; and there were several requests that the symposium become an annual event.
The ten presenters described the leading edges in modern death-care (both new, and reclaiming ancient practices). They focused on the developing support systems for people who wish to die at home, want a more person-centred style of care (pre- and post-death), and/or desire a greener approach to their final disposition.
Part of the intention was to give the participants a clear sense of the ‘pan-death continuum
’ — that is, the potentially-linked networks of support that can help them move though all the stages of a death in the most significant and healthy way. Therefore, the presentations were arranged chronologically — according to the order that families might best access them.
on living in the critical and pivotal point — between old traditions, and possible future ones — in how we approach death and death-care
— developing comprehensive Advance Directives
— their growth in Canada and across the world
— new support systems, including teleseminars/webinars for family/friend caregivers (frequently offered by the Victoria caregivers society, but available Canada-wide)
Hospice and Palliative care
— expanding to include all kinds of ‘life-limiting’ illnesses, and encouraging palliative services to be offered at a much earlier stage
24/7 home-care support
— unfunded provincial policies to provide this service for those who wish to die at home, but don’t have family caregivers
‘Right to Die’
— unfortunately, the local community could not provide a speaker; but it will definitely be included in any further pan-death symposiums.
‘Songs for the dying’
— 8 songs/chants that can be helpful in the death journey (called ‘Bedside Singing’)
Death Midwifery and Home Funerals
— a review of what both are; and their value in the death-journey experience for both the Death Journeyer and their families, as well as in shifting our cultural approach to death
— how a funeral or memorial service can be developed to be intimately meaningful to the family/friends, and add to a healthy grieving process
— an overview of what they are, and the ecological and emotional value of choosing one
‘Re-honouring our dead’
— a slideshow of participatory and artistic events held in cemeteries (on Day of the Dead and All Souls’ Week, So(u)lstice on Midsummer’s day, and the Equinox Vigil), providing evocative and meaningful ways for family/friends to remember and honour their dead
— a new approach to grieving that focuses on not just living with the loss, but ‘transforming one’s world’ to include the spirit or memory of the deceased in a new way.
is happy to provide information on how this pan-death symposium was developed to any organization who would like to organize one for their own local area. Please contact us
, or phone Pashta MaryMoon at (250) 383-4065.
Report on Victoria-area
and Journeying Beyond
co-ran a booth at the Victoria Seniors’ Expo (reportedly the largest in Canada) on March 11, 2014; but didn’t feel that it was a very successful venture. About 10 people stopped to talk to us about Death Midwifery and Home Funerals, and were supportive; but most people’s faces crinkled up while reading the CINDEA
banner, and then they quickly walked away.
It was clear that we did not present the booth and our service as well as we could have — for example, we are fairly sure that no one recognized that the hand-painted cardboard casket (standing upright) was, in fact, a casket, rather than simply a large decorated box. We had hoped that showing post-death care videos (CINDEA
's and others) might draw people in — but no one stopped to look at them; and the hall was so noisy they would not have been able to hear the narration in any case, even with earphones.
A dear friend reminded us that “it takes 7 times of exposure to a new idea before people are likely to engage with it
”; and so perhaps, we should do the Seniors Expo a few more times before deciding if it was worth the money and the time/energy. On the other hand, with ‘death itself’ still being a taboo subject, the Expo was not the best place to discuss options on death-care. Between there being no partitions between booths, loud miked performances from the stage most of the time, and dense crowds of people moving through the aisles, there was no way of having any intimacy for discussion.
If others have had experience with Seniors Expos or similar events, and have advice on how to best present Death Midwifery and Home Funeral options in this venue, we would welcome your wisdom.