Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How do we talk about, get support around, death?

Samhain is fast approaching, so of course I am thinking about death. About those dear ones who've died and whom I miss fiercely, and those whom I've been able to let go a little more. About those whom I don't miss at all. About those I love whose death was a release; those who died in old age after a long life; those who died young; those who died suddenly; those to whom I was able to say goodbye; those who died without any final contact.

About a dear F/friend who is actively dying.

Anastasia Ashman, a sister Mawrter, posted this recently, which I recommend to you. She asks questions like, How do we find support around grief? How do we talk about grief and death? Do we mourn silently and privately, or in community? What determines this?, as well as shares some of her own experience.


Dave said...

I went to bereavement group at a nearby hospice. It was free and very helpful.

staśa said...

That's excellent. Was it necessary that the death has been under their care, or was it open to other folks, too? Thanks for telling us about that. Overall, in my opinion, hospice is an excellent resource, and under-used.

anastasiaashman said...

Thanks for sharing my post Stasa. Sorry it has taken me *so long* to make it over here, this time of year often passes in a fog.

I like the bereavement groups at Daily Strength ( which give you a chance to join a support community centered around a certain kind of loss, but also meet individuals you might appreciate talking more with -- and your profile page has a journal for recording thoughts (and private conversations). DS has a feeling of longevity too, that you might come there for one reason but stay for others that crop up once you decide you feel comfortable opening up.

One of my current writing projects deals with a disastrous death and the drawn-out aftermath for the rest of us, and when I mentioned this in social situation (after being prompted to share what I was working on) someone replied: "Who'd want to read that?"

I think secretly we all do.

staśa said...

What a helpful way to respond to any writer. Gah.

Actually, yes, lots of people. One of the things I loved about the class "Call of the Dark Mother: Working with Dying and Death" was the chance to talk about death and dying with other people who also really wanted to talk about death and dying. It wasn't all gloomy, either. Yes, we had the chance to honor each other's grief and losses, which was wonderful; and it was wonderful to get that support. But we laughed a lot, too. And it was wonderful to be in a group of people where the social "rules" about talking about death didn't apply -- we were there to talk about death and all the ways, both sane and wacky, that people react to it, and about the things we brought to it, as well.

Anastasia, the folks in my class just soaked it up like sponges every time we found another good book about such experiences. (Kate Braestrup's Here If You Need Me, for example.) So I promise you, when you finish what you're working on, whether it ends up being a short piece or a book, there will be people for whom it is helpful, and people who will want to read it.

Thanks for the DS resources.

And please don't apologize.


staśa said...


1) One of my all-time favorite books about death and dying: The American Way of Death, Revisited by Jessica Mitford. I think everyone who will ever deal with death arrangements in the US needs to read this one.

2) Call of the Dark Mother is a distance-learning course through Cherry Hill Seminary (, and is open to non-seminarians and to people of different religious/spiritual traditions.