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pethaven's picture

Pet Haven Cemetery


We are excited to be a part of the PLPA family and have access to new information in order to provide the best service possible to our client familys and their beloved pets. KM

rob treadway's picture

'Death cafes' normalize a difficult, not morbid, topic


"Death cafes," a trend that started in England, are spreading across the USA.

Reposted from USA Today
April 10, 2013

No one wants to talk about death at the dinner table, at a soccer game or at a party, says Lizzy Miles, a social worker in Columbus, Ohio.

But sometimes people need to talk about the "taboo" topic and when that happens, they might not be able to find someone who will listen, she says. "Whenever people hear I'm a hospice worker, they talk to me about death. It doesn't matter if I'm on an airplane, gambling in Las Vegas, or in a grocery store line. I really see firsthand the need to let people talk. It's my gift to others."

Her gift sparked the birth of "death cafes" in the USA, a trend that started in England, is spreading across the USA and is about to take off, she says.

The casual get-togethers are held at coffee shops, restaurants and, on March 30 in Atlanta, at the historic Oakland Cemetery. Hosts are social workers and chaplains — no professional association, philosophy or religion sponsors them, and no one tries to sell anything like coffins or funeral plots.

The concept is really very simple and civilized.

"They're a place to talk about the issues surrounding death while drinking tea and eating delicious cake,'' says Miles, 42.

The Internet is spreading the word. The website was created by Jon Underwood, who held the first cafe in September 2011, in England. He developed the idea from the writings of Bernard Crettaz, a Swiss sociologist who says talking about death leads to authenticity. Since 2011, Underwood says, he's had hundreds of inquiries from the USA, Australia and Canada.

"Death Cafe exists because of a belief that more authenticity is needed in the world,'' Underwood says. "Death denial is an omnipresent feature of Western consumer capitalism."

About 40 people met at the conference room at Oakland Cemetery, broke up into clusters of five to eight people, and talked for several hours. At a typical death cafe, facilitators move about the room and monitor conversations, to identify anyone who might need counseling, pull them aside and tell them where to find help. The cafes are not support groups, says chaplain Mark LaRocca-Pitts, a host of the Oakland Cemetery cafe.

Meetings often start with the question "What brought you here?" he says.

The conversation helped Julie Arms. "My partner doesn't want to talk about dying, especially about my dying, so it gave me a chance to explore ideas with other people," she says. "I found comfort in that."

Arms, a breast cancer survivor, says other participants understood her when she said, "I don't think death is nearly as scary after going through cancer."

"Two other people said the very same thing," she says. "We have come close to death."

Putting the cafe in a cemetery setting seemed natural, says LaRocca-Pitts, and one of the participants is a volunteer there and was able to book the room. "We knew we'd have a large turnout and a coffee shop wouldn't have held us."

Each cafe is different, he says, but talk can center on advance directive planning, physician-assisted dying, funeral arrangements and what happens after death.

Intensive care units are the most difficult places to have those conversations, he says. "As a hospice chaplain, I know people often don't talk about these things until it's a crisis, and there's little comfort in that."

But the gatherings don't draw only people who are worried about dying or those who are grieving. As Underwood noted, they attract people seeking authenticity.

"They're not being morbid,'' he says. "These are people who want to live more fully. They think that by fearing cessation they can't be spiritually alive. The more we talk about dying and what it means about ego and self, the more we add to life."

Underwood credits Miles with starting the cafe movement in the USA. She says very soon death cafes will take on a life of their own.

"At the end of April, I'm presenting the cafe concept at the annual conference of the Association for Death Education and Counseling,'' she says. "Several other death cafe hosts from the USA will also be there.

"I know many of the people attending will find out about it, hear us talking about it and want to start one."


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Bob Fells's picture

Gunning for Gun Control



Gunning for Gun Control

[Note: This essay is one in a continuing series by ICCFA executive director Bob Fells focusing on various issues in our federal government. Although the subjects are political in nature, the approach is bipartisan in outlook, at least so far as that is humanly possible. The goal of each essay is not to persuade the reader to adopt a particular political viewpoint or party, but to illustrate why a knowledge of the system is important to protect our businesses, our homes, and our families.]

For the record, I have never owned any firearms nor did my parents. In fact, the only person in my extended family that I know has guns is a brother-in-law who owns a couple of hunting rifles. My grown son once took me to a shooting range and we rented a 9mm pistol and some ammo. I rather quickly became bored with trying to hit the little paper bulls-eye and invited my son to finish my round or whatever it’s called. I have no philosophical or religious opposition to owning firearms and I can appreciate why the American sense of self-reliance includes provisions for self-defense with implements that go bang. That said, the debate in Congress over gun control, what weapons should be banned, what background checks should be universal, and who decides all this, has deteriorated into a form of demagoguery that makes a mockery of the very issue it seeks to regulate.

This has been a horrific week between the Boston Marathon bombings and the explosion in a Texas fertilizer plant. Many Americans, including me, are experiencing PTSS-like flashbacks of 911 and it can be unnerving. Some have said that we have become too complacent as the events of 911 have receded into the mists of Time. But timing can be everything so it was with some concern that the advocates of federal gun control legislation found that this week is a bad time to vote on Americans giving up their firearms. America has been a gun-toting nation since the Minutemen of 1776 and probably before that. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution safeguards the right of all citizens to bear arms, but it doesn’t say what kind.

The fact is that tens of millions of Americans keep firearms and always have. It is significant to note that very few of them have ever abused their Constitutional right to bear arms but we are being told relentlessly by the political classes that gun ownership is the common denominator behind the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut; Aurora Colorado; Virginia Tech, and many other places where these types of massacres have occurred. That’s like claiming that a book of matches caused the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 (Mrs. O’Leary’s cow has since been officially and legally exonerated) so let’s lock up all the matches.

The true and rather narrow common denominator behind all these mass shootings has been mental illness. All of the gunmen were mentally deranged and yet this obvious fact has been stunningly ignored in all the debate and tears shed on the subject. I mean that NOBODY is talking about mental health, better detection and intervention before the next whacko decides to find a soft target, i.e., a location where people are unlikely to have firearms to shoot back. You may wonder why, so at the risk of sounding cynical, I have to tell you that “gun control” is a lot easier for politicians to champion than advocating for better mental health services. And the insurance companies dislike the subject of mental health – just check your health policy to see how little coverage they provide for mental health claims. If you get a physical disease you probably have decent coverage, but have a mental illness and you’re pretty much on your own, brother.

Also, promoting more effective treatment of the actual cause of gun violence doesn’t lend itself to catchy slogans. It is much easier to tout, “If guns are outlawed, then only outlaws will have guns.” You might point out that if only outlaws have guns, then law-abiding people will be defenseless and ready victims, but you will be viewed with suspicion. The unspoken elephant in the room that politicians don’t want to mention is this: law-abiding citizens don’t need guns because the government is here to protect them. That loud rushing noise you just heard is the public running out to buy guns because they finally learned the real reason for pushing gun control: more power to the state. The first thing that every totalitarian government has ever done once in power is to disarm the population “for their own safety.”

We also don’t hear anything said about providing better gun owner education so weapons will be properly secured and tragic accidents will be avoided. Why? Because this approach does nothing to empower government. Besides, what kind of slogan is, “If all Americans had guns, then outlaws would think twice before trying to victimize them?” Nah.

Even as a non-gun owning American, I benefit from a robust application of the Second Amendment. You see, the bad guys don’t know whether I am armed or not, but gun control will go a long way to shift the odds in the bad guys’ favor. And it’s no coincidence that the nutjobs know to get at people where the government already prohibits them from carrying firearms like schools and movie theaters. “Crazy like a fox” is an old expression that’s quite apt here. So whatever your position on gun control, from total confiscation to unfettered Second Amendment rights, the next time you hear the politicians holding forth on this subject, ask yourself why they’re not talking about mental health issues and improving firearms education. They really do have their reasons and the omissions aren’t coincidental.


Children's Book about Grief


  I am so excited to announce that I have finished writing my new children's book, Sadie & Sammy: A Tail of Love, Loss, and Friendship.  This book is based on my experiences at my cemetery with my certified bereavement therapy dog, Sadie.  We will be at the convention today and tomorrow with copies of the book!  Stop by and say hello to Sadie!  Sadie is attending the convention with me to accept the KIP Award in Best Practice for our work with her! See you all there!

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