GNL number 40

the GOOD NEWS lately

a report of doings at meetings #40, Sunday, October 3, 2010
including liturgical notes, major themes, and other odds and ends


When we are dead, seek not our tomb in the earth,
find it in the hearts of men.
—from the tombstone of Rumi


Today’s topic was Thoughts About Our Own Funeral/Memorial; but it was much more.

Sue began the conversation by speaking of the cremation choice, which she leaned to (but had heard requires much fuel), and the need her experience with her dad had shown, for planning not only for medical situations but who will handle which details. And she spoke of having begun to write to her loved ones about all this, and more.  She also had quotes in mind that she said she’d send or bring next time.

Nancy said she felt little desire to influence any funeral or memorial, other than to hope her loved ones would have a party and play a lot of wonderful music and maybe dance and have good potluck food.  She had been thinking of writing them something like a love letter. And near the meeting’s end, she said the subject and this discussion also reminded her how important it is to find priorities.

Ann as well spoke of feeling no need for a fuss, that like everybody else, she was subject to death, and this was part of the deal. She also spoke of do-not-resusitate planning, and recalled her and Elliott’s experience with El’s brother in his decline, when he had been near death, but rebounded for a period of relative wellness before he passed.

Chris spoke first of her choice to have her body given to Albany Med for research, then cremation; and she talked about her impulse to plan many details, like which loved ones would inherit which items of family memorabilia, and specifying one to take her ashes to Maine who would love the trip.  Then she said she saw some of this was about control, and was rethinking it, e.g., maybe making that trip happen while she was still here.  And we talked of fears of leaving, and of leaving without being understood.

Anna was not so interested in a funeral or memorial, as in specifying that, since maybe her organs wouldn’t be in good enough shape to donate, that her body should be given, to a hospital for medical research or training.  (And she said she would be bringing her old friend Duane, from NYC, with her to the next meeting.)

Cynthia recounted some of her experience helping her mother through the last 18 months of her life, and how her mom’s decisions about her dying (and later her mother-in-law’s very specific ones too) helped Cyn know what she wants to request that her daughter do after her passing.

Gail said she hadn’t had much experience with death, but did like the idea of family and friends coming together to honor the person.  And she spoke of the kind of memorial gathering that they had at the farm for Abigail as a very good thing for everybody.   And when Sue mentioned it, Gail and Cynthia both praised a difficult book, Night Navigator, about a family’s experience with addiction, by Sue’s friend Ginnah Howard, who is appearing at the library later this month.

By the end of this session of thinking and talking about the realities of dying, there was a sense among us of “facing death” helping us see and do our life better.

We decided today’s offering would be given to Cobleskill’s Butterfly Cafe, now serving about 100 meals a week.


When it’s over, I want to say:
All my life I was a bride
married to amazement.
—Mary Oliver


Sunday, October 10, 2010 (10:30) at Jack’s.  We continue to think about our Funerals, Memorials, Last Wishes, and other thoughts related to Dying.

from Chris

Wow – what an article! (on Green Burials that require no coffins or chemicals), and some good sites given for further exploration…
More Americans choosing natural burials.


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