Thursday, October 23, 2014

Being in community: talking about dying and death

I am sitting on the patio, doing preparation for the workshop I'm leading this weekend on what happens before we can fill out all the end-of-life forms.  I'm listening to the birds and watching a front come in.  I just checked the pressure map, yep, there it is -- a cold front with a low-pressure system behind it...

The summer before last -- 2013 -- I facilitated a conversation at my Local Meeting about dying and death.  It started out as a report from two trips the Meeting supported me in making to Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre, one for a course on Creating Support for End of Life and Bereavement, one for the twice-annual gathering of QDD, the Quaker Concern Around Dying and Death, and about why I'd wanted to go in the first place -- my long-standing ministry around dying and death.  It expanded to a more general conversation about needing and wanting to talk about dying and death, and not being sure how to start.  It became clear people really are hungry for more spaces, safe spaces, to talk about this.

I talked to my elder for this talk and another Local Meeting person involved with QDD, and the three of us got together and planned a day-long follow-up session for March.  That session ended up being about how we make the decisions that need to be made before we can fill out all those end-of-life planning forms -- the Quaker funeral wishes forms, advance decisions / advance directives, etc. -- and how we care for those who are left behind when we die.  It was sweet and tender and good. 

We were asked to bring it to the Area Meeting.  So I'm leading a similar session / workshop Saturday. 

Sitting here working on the prep, I'm struck by how much I love and enjoy this work.  It's not all grim.  It's not all horrible.  It's funny, it's sweet, it's human, it's real.  It's about being in community with each other and caring for each other.

Lots of other places in my ministry are much more intimidating for me than this...

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