What better way to deal with the searing heat of summer than a workshop focused on death? The Vashon Conversation for the Living About Dying group is set to host “Death, the Experience of a Lifetime,” on Friday evening and all day Saturday, Aug. 10 and 11, at the Land Trust Building.
The event has two components: A free evening presentation open to all, and a paid, day-long workshop — both featuring guest presenter and death expert, Bodhi Be.
Be, a 40-year resident of Maui, Hawaii, is the executive director of the nonprofit organization Doorway into Light, which engages in advocacy and educational programs about death and dying. He is also an ordained Sufi minister — Sufism is an experiential and mystical belief system that was brought to the West by Hazrat Inayat Kahn of India, and recognizes that there is a “unity of religious ideals” found in all the world’s religions. He is also a funeral director, hospice volunteer, end-of-life and bereavement counselor, coffin maker, death doula educator and founder of The Death Store.
Vashon Conversation’s Susan Pitiger has been learning from Be for 25 years.
“He is a man of really deep compassion,” she said. “And he has the ability to bring humor to almost anything. When dealing with death and grief, that piece of underlying humor is really helpful.”
Sally Carlson, another Vashon Conversation member and co-chair of the upcoing event with Pitiger, agreed.
“His message is that if you expect to die someday, you need to plan for that,” she said.
The free Friday evening part of the event is intended for everyone and will consist of a presentation to the community from Be, for those interested in getting a taste of his ideas and what he has to offer. The Saturday workshop has no agenda — for now, at least.
“He will go with who is present and what they need,” Pitiger explained. “He is a very loving man who gives in big doses.”
“What is the energy of the room?” Carlson added. “That will determine what he covers.”
The Vashon Conversation group has been working on putting this event together for nearly a year, and Carlson noted that there are about 20 people registered for the Saturday workshop so far. There are spots available for 20 more.
The cost to attend the Saturday component is $70, which includes refreshments in the morning as well as lunch. Those who attend the Friday evening session and then decide they would like to participate Saturday may do so for $60 (lunch not included).
Both women state that the primary goal of these events is to get as many people as possible to create their own advance directives.
“People need to wrap their minds around the fact that they will die some day,” Carlson said. “And having an advance directive is a good thing to do.”
“Death is a part of life,” Pitiger said. “And that is what he (Be) wants to emphasize. When you accept that, it makes life so much richer. People tend to live more fully and in the moment when they embrace that.”
Death, the Experience of a Lifetime, will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, ($70 in advance; $60 the day of) at the Land Trust Building. To register for the Saturday workshop, stop by the Vashon Senior Center on Bank Road.