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Community can brighten darkness of death

Hello friends,

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” — Wayne Dyer

When we think about and face death, there is a lot that comes up, and often we feel we have nowhere to turn, no support to lean on. By perceiving death in a different way, we begin to ease this process. For example, have you heard of the word “quietus”? If you were to search “death” in the thesaurus, this would lead you to “quietus,” and “quietus” would lead you to “exit” and “exit” would lead you to “gate.”

Let this sink in. Do you feel a shift in perception?

Community is another aspect to easing this process and is a space where we can support, question, wonder and grieve together. Reviving community connections also brings warmth and beauty to the unimaginable.

When helping plan my Aunt Debbie’s funeral, I was baffled by the funeral director’s response to my mom’s question, “So how long will these caskets take to biodegrade?”

“Oh, a very long time,” the director reassured us, misunderstanding my mother’s concern. I realized more fully then that there is important work to be done in the way that our society perceives death and the practices in which we engage.

Each year, 827,060 gallons of formaldehyde embalming fluid (enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool), 2,700 tons of copper and bronze, 90,272 tons of steel (equivalent to building a Golden Gate bridge), 20 million board feet of hardwood, which equates to about 77,000 trees (many of which are on the endangered species list) and 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete from burial vaults (enough to construct a highway from Denver to St. Louis) are buried with our bodies underground (Herring, L., “Reimaging Death,” 2019, p. 113). With all that the Earth gives us throughout our life, it is heartbreaking that this has come to be our final offering.

It is not my intention to burden you with more grim realities of the harmful ways in which we are living, but rather to ask you if you want to continue to partake in these practices. Throughout all that we experience in our days, we have the freedom to ask ourselves, “Is the way in which I am living, and the practices that I engage in, helpful?” From here we can create space to reimagine and bring to life a restorative reality. This process of questioning, reimagining and creating is greatly enhanced within community.

This is why I want to invite you to the Adirondack Death Care Community, where we aim to cultivate a community of members willing to lean in as death shows up in our lives and the lives of our neighbors. It is in this united space that we can foster hope and renewal — from advocating for natural/traditional burial and finalizing our advanced directives to offering our unique gifts in support during loss. Overall, this simply offers a space to normalize conversations and wonderings about death.

We meet via Zoom every first Monday at 6:30 p.m. and for educational shares every third Saturday. For more information and/or to become involved. email adkdeathcarecommunity@gmail.com.

You can find us on Facebook at Adirondack Death Care Community.

Colleen Corrigan lives in Saranac Lake.

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