Island group to memorialize loved ones, discuss death on Sunday

Organizers of the island’s “Let’s Talk About Living and Dying” group, who originally hosted the Death Café gatherings, will host a memorial table session to honor deceased loved ones at noon Sunday, Oct. 28, at the Land Trust Building.

Participants are invited to bring an item in remembrance of someone who has died. Facilitators will also lead an open discussion to consider prompts such as how those in attendance may wish to be remembered and how to process the end of life.

“I think it’s a really wonderful ritual to honor people openly and not keep everything inside,” said Jane Neubauer, a co-facilitator of the group.

She added that there is no expectation of any outcome for the discussion, which will be secular, respectful and loose in structure.

Neubauer said that the group’s intention is to create a welcoming and confidential space to explore one’s own thoughts, experiences and feelings.

“When you hear people talk about it, it makes things easier,” she said. “People find it easier to confront the subject and talk to spouses or children, to take the next step of what they need to do.”

Islander Kim Eckhardt, a physical therapist specializing in home health care, is the group’s newest co-facilitator. She said one of her primary motivations as a caregiver is to preserve the dignity of her patients, connecting them with resources to help make transitions, especially at the end of life, easier.

“[The group] has really shifted the way I think about my work,” she said, noting that the opportunity to feel vulnerable with others and acknowledge that life ends can promote a sense of gratitude for the time left. According to Eckhardt, normalizing a topic that people often feel uncomfortable about is both a personal and worthwhile endeavor. The group, she said, is the perfect vehicle for empathy and self expression.

“It’s just a different way of paying attention to something you might not have noticed: your life.”

Call Susan Pitiger (206) 818-4232, Jane Neubauer (206) 567-5404 or Kim Eckhardt (206) 678-2204 for more information.

— Paul Rowley

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