It’s been seven years since I was asked to advise on the Living Well – Dying Well program for The Centre for Earth & Spirit. Dr. Robin J Hood, John Shields and Kim Holl held a series of community consultations in 2015 researching their hunch that folks just weren’t tending their Advanced Care Plans in a real and significant way. As a Life-Cycle Celebrant and someone interested in informed and conscious care with end-of-life, I was delighted to be included in this deeper conversation.
In February 2016 the first cohort was held at Yakimovich Wellness Centre with over twenty folks tentative and yet curiously interested to engage in the four-week session, including discussions on everything from articulating values and wishes for living well now, ACP, to services of Palliative Care, Hospice and a newly approved choice for MAiD. One of the many facets that deeply called me to facilitate LWDW was a choice to include mindfulness-based practices in the offering, and of even greater interest – including the wellbeing of the Earth in our end-of-life wishes.
It didn’t take long for me to feel that somatic based practices would be essential if we were to be able to deepen these conversations in a grounded and integrated way, as our human nervous systems are naturally activated in the act of imagining our own death – rightly so and for good reason! After all – this is not top of mind for most folks, unless we are given a serious diagnosis or – in my case and others I know – have experienced a life-threatening trauma, accident or illness earlier in life. And why – you ask, would anyone want to imagine the end-of-life?
To imagine our end-of-life and ultimate death can literally and physically bring us back to life – to a sense of reverence and awe that we have been given the incredible gift to be here on the earth for a very short time, to experience through our senses the abundance of beauty and infinite challenges of living on a finite planet.
Never have we had more folks on the planet, neither have we had the amount of consumption and waste produced in every nano-moment of the day. This truth can devastate us, or bring us into right relationship with the earth and nature as our greatest ally and friend in walking through this world with awareness, presence and care.
We now know more than ever that what we do now will have an affect into the long unfurling future. Our choices for living well, health care and ultimately the way we die will affect the future of life on this beautiful planet we call home.
Living Well – Dying Well has expanded over the past eight years, moving into a six-week online format, holding space for folks across the country and in other parts of the world. Now – we are taking Living Well – Dying Well on the road!! Due to its inquiry-based format and deep interest in community centred-death care being accessible and affordable for all, Living Well – Dying Well is spreading its wings and coming to a community near you!
Our first stop is Courtenay, on the mid-Island, where we are offering a weekend gathering over several days to meet and deepen with others in this sensitive and tumultuous time. Questioning, exploring, sharing and participating in circles of inclusion and inquiry on topics near and dear to the heart of humanity’s greatest desires to belong and befriend the reality of our finite lives in ways that can land us directly in the rapture and responsibility of being human.
We are also expanding our vision to imagine together a land based, community space for Conservation Burial – many in fact! What a potent time it is to bring ecologically sensitive practices to the way we care for our dead – through natural burial with conservation at its heart – a way to protect land in perpetuity, bring family and community together in engaged, participatory, ceremonial and conscious ways!
Our vision for engaging and activating community-centered end-of-life care includes you! We are writing to invite you to be a part of growing Living Well – Dying Well in the province. We are also opening a space for community partners or donors to support us in sharing LWDW in small communities. Many are building community death care groups and offerings, and we feel LWDW has a place of contribution by way of offering a comprehensive, trauma informed and somatically and ecologically sensitive approach to meeting end-of-life and death with consciousness and care. Please reach out to explore ways to bring our programming your way.
So, if you have an interest to become a sponsoring member of LWDW in British Columbia, we would be blessed and honoured to receive donations at any time, with deep appreciation and excitement to share this journey with you!
And, if after reading this, you feel a tug in your heart to be a part of the Board of The Center for Earth & Spirit, send us an email. We are looking for inspired and activated hearts with a deep desire to contribute to this growing vision!! (especially seeking a Treasurer as well as Board Members – send your interest at firstname.lastname@example.org
Warmly and with thanks for reading this far! We look forward to hearing from you!