How To Listen to the Dying

by Olga Nikolajev RN, MA, CT

Listening in this way can be used for any communication process, especially when “listening” to someone speaking about dying and death, or any difficult conversation. If we can start listening with presence, empathy, compassion, forgiveness during these discussions, imagine how much better listeners we will be with other conversations, developing true heart to heart communication, speaking from the heart as our ancestors did.

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The Season of Remembering

By Susanne Muirhead

The winter snow sparkles, its as if twinkling stars have landed from above and are surrounding me everywhere as I walk along the snow covered path.  At this time of year, this time of cocooning, wood fires, early darkness, cold floors in the morning, icicles hanging from the rooftops,  ice chunks floating in the river and creek, I am remembering my Mom.  The river dippers help me remember to sing – to honor my Mom who has died almost five years ago now.  I smile and my heart is warmed thinking about her.  She died in February, in the winter of 2012.  Today, similar to five years ago, the world here is covered in snow.   Back then, our home was just being built on a piece of land that is bordered by river and creek.  This is where my Mom chose to come to die.  She had helped with the beginnings of building this house and so the land, the air, the water still share the fond memories of our time together here.  The wild mountains held a space for her to die – as if they opened the palms of their hands and created a spot just for her. Mom died in a bed that we had built – it was big enough for someone to rest beside her as she travelled.  The room where she died has a huge window that looks out onto the welcoming branches of the cedar trees and over large expanses of white snow.  This is what her eyes beheld those last days spent in our home where family, candles and flowers surrounded her. We had time to laugh, cry, talk, remember, and prepare together.  It was such a fitting end for such a humble, loving, magnificent woman.  I miss my Mom – I miss talking with her, I miss her deep caring and loving ways. I miss her and remember her as I walk these snow covered lands – a season for remembering.

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First Home Funeral Practicum in Regina

Don Morris, Denise Seguin Horth and Sharon Pulvermacher stand behind a cremation container at a home funeral practicum in Regina, Sask. on Sunday May. 29, 2016. The personalized messages written on the container are an example of how a family might participate in the preparation of a home funeral. MICHAEL BELL MICHAEL BELL / REGINA LEADER-POST

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“A Happy Ending”

Addendum: The handling and transfer of the deceased in Ontario

The Chief Coroner of Ontario responded to our concerns and confirmed that he has clarified with all Regional Supervising Coroners in Ontario, and their office administrative staff, “the rights, responsibilities and obligations of a family to provide respectful disposition of their loved one” according to section 7 (2) of the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act 2002. He suggested that if families have any future difficulty in communication with an Investigating Coroner when claiming the body of their next of kin, they should request to speak with the Regional Supervising Coroner, or the Regional Coroner “on call after hours,” who will be aware of families’ rights, in this regard. Furthermore, the Chief Coroner stated that he will forward a memo to all regional offices reinforcing families’ rights to claim the bodies of their loved ones after coroners’ investigations.

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The handling and transfer of the deceased in Ontario

by Rochelle Martin

Recently a Toronto coroner’s office refused to release the body of a deceased son to his parents, insisting that a funeral director had to pick up the body.  The family, forced to hire a funeral director in order to claim their son’s body, had to wait to bring his body home until a willing funeral home reopened after the weekend.

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A Story of Loving, A Story of Dying

by Sue Muirhead

Last January, my husband and I moved in with my dear friend Laurie, her husband and grown son.  We had all gathered in her home because Laurie had decided, after long deliberation and much discussion, that this was her time to die.  She had asked us to support her as she had made the decision to stop eating and drinking.  She had suffered with MS for many years and had come to a point where she could no longer look after herself, in her body her suffering had become unbearable, and she was very clear she wanted to die.  All of us made the commitment that we would honor her decision and we would support her.  This was one of the most challenging and loving decisions of my life.

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