Death can be frightening, overwhelming and confusing. Those left behind mourn the loss of a loved one while simultaneously struggling to plan a funeral or deal with legal matters left unresolved.
“For me as a clergy person, the hardest thing is to get folks to deal with details like a funeral service in the midst of grief,” said Bishop Craig Anderson, rector of Emmanuel Parish. “To do that ahead of time is so much easier.”
To open a dialogue about these tough topics, the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia and Emmanuel Episcopal Parish are hosting a workshop called “From Here to Eternity,” on Sunday, April 21, noon to 4 p.m. in the Emmanuel Episcopal Parish Hall.
Over the years, Anderson has discovered that most people don’t think about issues like funerals and legal matters until a loved one dies. The workshops give people time to think about and face those “end of life” decisions.
“You live a better life if you have been able to think about death,” he said.
Anderson often asks people to write their own memorials to think about how they want to be remembered. He said that the workshop also gives people a safe environment to talk about death with other people, making the experience less ominous and more practical.
The speakers will talk about various topics. Father Lance Ousley, canon for Stewardship and Development from the Diocese of Olympia, will provide an overview for the afternoon and planned giving and bequests. Anderson will cover aspects of planning a funeral and memorial service.
Chris Kenady, an Eastsound attorney and chancellor of Emmanuel Parish, will discuss living wills, estate planning and other legal matters. Molly Roberts will provide information on Hospice and Home Care.
“Some people, depending on their way of approaching death, get ready a long time beforehand and some people ignore it for as long as possible,” Roberts said.
She added that one reason death is so scary is because people lose control – one way to face that fear is to look at options like hospice and homecare before you start feeling weak or powerless.
Rosie Kuhn will offer thoughts on maintaining dignity and responsible choice-making in relation to the aging process. Representatives from two funeral homes will discuss funeral arrangements, cremation, “green burials” and other related topics. Following the presentations, there will be small group discussion in separate breakout groups led by each of the presenters.
Anderson said that in past workshops he recalls one attendee saying, “It helped me to come to grips with my own mortality and makes me think about what I want to do with the rest of my life.”