2019 - Aug - Gazette - Thankful, Thoughtful, Tuesdays

By: Jackie Hook
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Thankful, Thoughtful Tuesdays

With my work, I get into all kinds of conversations about dying, death and grief. One was with a woman who described a beautiful living funeral she was a part of for her brother. He had been given a terminal diagnosis and his family brought many of his loved ones together to celebrate him while he was still alive and able to appreciate it. It was a rich and meaningful experience for all, and this woman felt it helped prepare her for his death. During another conversation, a woman shared how a relative had built her own casket and then used it as a coffee table in her house until her death.

In our death avoidant culture, many people shy away from these kinds of conversations. I do just the opposite and believe my life is richer for it! I’m not alone though. In some monastic traditions, they hold death before themselves every day. Not in a morbid way, but in a seize the day way. Thinking about the end of life helps us: realize what matters most; be present and grateful for what is in the moment; rally to do what we want to do; keep things in perspective; prepare us for our own death; and, find peace in the process.

These are the outcomes we find people achieving who participate in our series of classes called Thankful, Thoughtful Tuesdays/Thursdays (depending on which day of the week the sessions are held.) Here is what two participants, Jane and Al Butler, had to say: “After attending the Thankful, Thoughtful Thursdays, fear of end of life is lessened. We are planning the last days knowing loved ones will know our wishes. For this we are thankful and at peace.”

The series the Butlers attended came to be through the efforts of Sandy Schuckers with Centre County Office of Aging, Holly Reigh with Grane Hospice, and myself. Our next series will be held on Tuesdays, September 10 through October 15 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Centre Region Active Adult Center in the Nittany Mall, 2901 E. College Ave. #990, State College.

To give you an idea about the tone of our sessions, here are some of the topics covered and reflections from participants at the end of the discussions:

  • Introduction, including Why We Don’t Talk about Death, The Art of Dying Well and What Really Matters – Empathy; good to talk to others; lots of insights; and, grateful for class
  • Appropriate Legal Documents – Enlightening; interesting; learned a lot today; and, informative
  • Hospice and What Happens as We Die  - More at peace; a lot I didn’t know; grateful; and, encouragement
  • Have the Talk of a Lifetime – Words of wisdom; easier to talk about death; good to hear stories; and, inspiring
  • Instructions to the Funeral Director – Learned quite a bit more; made me rethink plans; appreciative; and, brought closure
  • Companioning Yourself and Others through Grief – Thankful; more prepared for death; I’ve looked forward to these meetings; and, grateful for the newspaper article about this series

As in the past, we’re grateful that Holly Reigh, the nurse liaison with Grane Hospice, and F. Glenn Fleming, the supervisor and funeral director with Koch Funeral Home will be two of our guest speakers. To register for Thankful, Thoughtful Tuesdays, please call 814-231-3076.

In addition to giving you peace of mind by considering end-of-life issues, having discussions about these things can also give your loved ones peace of mind and healing. I’ve had the honor of companioning people after someone they loved died and many have shared how comforting it was to know they fulfilled their loved one’s wishes. If you are concerned about having discussions about these kinds of things, Thankful, Thoughtful Tuesdays will provide you with some ideas and tools to help. We hope you join us.

We also hope you join us at these other upcoming gatherings:

  • Monday’s Moments Complimentary Luncheon - “What Gives You Strength?” Monday, September 9 from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott, 1730 University Drive, State College - Grieving can be exhausting. After a loved one dies, it takes a lot of energy to make life good again. At this gathering, we’ll talk about what gives you strength for the journey. Please email Jackie@JackieHook.com, call 814-404-0546 or sign up on the Koch Funeral Home Facebook page to RSVP by Thursday, September 5th. Space is limited.
  • Death Café, the third of Monday of the month, September 16 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Webster’s Bookstore Café, 133 East Beaver Avenue, State College with Complimentary Desserts Provided by Webster’s - Please join us at our monthly Death Café where we’ll drink coffee and tea, eat cake and discuss death. Our goal is to increase awareness to help us all make the most of our lives. Together we’ll have a group-directed discussion with no agenda, objectives or themes. This is a discussion group not a grief support or counseling session.
  • Grief Matters Presented by Tides, Friday, September 27 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Ramada Conference Center, 1450 S Atherton Street, State College with $50 Professional Registration and $35 Student Registration Fees and Continental Breakfast and Lunch Included – This is an educational conference for school faculty, counselors, clinicians, therapist, and friends who are interested in gaining an understanding on how to support those who are grieving, both professionally and personally. This year, Grief Comes to Lunch focuses around the concept that Grief will make an appearance anywhere, at any time, and in any form. The goal of this conference is to equip attendees with the knowledge, awareness, and skills to support those who are grieving. Five Act 48 Credits and CEU Credits are available. Visit www.tidesprogram.org/griefmatters for more information.

Additional information about these programs can be found at the Koch Funeral Home website’s Bereavement Gatherings and Events section under the Local Resources tab. All of these events are open to the public.

We look forward to seeing you at one of our gatherings. Until that time, heed the words of Henry David Thoreau, “When it comes time to die, let us not discover that we have never lived.”

Jackie Hook, MA, is a spiritual director, celebrant and end-of-life doula.  She coordinates the Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program through Koch Funeral Home in State College.  For more information, please call 814-237-2712 or visit www.kochfuneralhome.com.

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