Volunteers from Sacred Grief, one of the groups running Deathly Matters, simulating a home funeral. A volunteer is acting the part of the deceased. (Contributed by Shauna Janz)

Death doulas and home funerals, unorthodox end-of-life conference visits Vancouver Island

Deathly Matters hosts workshops and ‘information market’ on death, dying and grief in Sidney

Deathly Matters, a one day community conference exploring alternative views on death comes to Sidney, May 25.

Have you ever thought of organizing a death doula or conducting a home funeral? Deathly Matters say they can help and are looking at “doing death better.”

The conference aims to showcase “emerging perspectives and voices on death and dying that are not readily found in mainstream dialogue.”

Nine workshops run throughout the day covering approaches often viewed as unorthodox in mainstream funerary circles.

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Workshops include End of Life Ceremony and Ritual, Leaving Our Legacy, Joining Our Ancestors, The Role of Death Doulas, Promoting Health Equity, Home Funerals and Body Care, A Buddhist and A First Nation Perspective on Death and Dying, and Mapping End of Life Care.

“We are looking at reclaiming holistic and grass-roots approaches to death, and empowering families at the end-of-life stage of a loved one,” said Shauna Janz of Sacred Grief, a counseling service that partly focuses on animist beliefs and non-human relationships.

The day starts with a keynote speech from Roseanne Beuthin, who intends to talk about dying, spirituality, end-of-life choices and “the ethics of care by honouring life stories.”

Death Over Lunch follows, which will hopefully just involve the advertised conversation circle, before attendees are offered the opportunity to take part in a community casket art project and listen to local musicians.

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One of the most anticipated talks regards Home Funerals.

“A lot of people don’t realize their choices. One is that people don’t realize you can keep the body of a loved one in your own home, to tend them and design your own goodbye,” said Janz.

An “information market,” the Deathly Matters Community Showcase, is open to both event attendees and the general public. Ticket-holders can view it from noon to 1 p.m and the general public from 1:30 to 3 p.m. It will feature a variety of organizations and businesses involved, in different capacities, with death, dying and grief support.

Deathly Matters is produced by Linda Hunter of Dying with Grace and Shauna Janz of Sacred Grief. It takes place Saturday, May 25, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the McTavish Academy of Arts.

Early-bird tickets sold out, general registration is now open and tickets cost $80. For more information and to purchase a ticket, visit deathlymatters.ca.


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