Ngaio and I (iris) represented KORU in SFU’s End-of-Life Matters Education and Resource Fair held at SFU Harbour Centre last Saturday, September 21st. This free all-day event was an opportunity for attendees to explore questions and find out about the practicalities of the end of life. The hope is for attendees to develop a deeper understanding of death and its meaning for living.
There were engaging and informative presentations. To name some of them: Green is the New Death; The Changing Role of Municipal Cemeteries in Our Communities; and The Future of MAiD (Medical Assistance in Dying). There was a quiet space that served as a place for reflection and contemplation. A multimedia room showcased death, loss, and grief through a small but wide-ranging series of short videos and pictures created by various artists.
Two writers talked about their respective journeys with the death of a loved one. Becky Livingston, the author of “The Suitcase and the Jar,” talked about how she kept alive her dying daughter’s wish to keep travelling. She shared her moving experience and her story of surrender, dislocation, and belonging – themes that resonated with anyone who has lost a beloved. Sharon Hartung, the author of “Your Digital Undertaking,” shared practical ways to tackle your digital life in the context of one’s overall estate. In this information age, one’s digital photos, social media accounts, and online banking access have become aspects of one’s estate. Matters that were not a concern for my grandparents two decades ago.
The fair also featured businesses that offer a range of services. Aside from KORU Cremation | Burial | Ceremony™, our friends from Willow End of Life Planning and Education, Patient Pathways Independent Healthcare Navigators and Advocates, and Heritage Gardens Cemetery. Many non-profit organizations serve people at different points of their need – from support through diagnosis to after death. Examples of the organizations are People’s Law School, The Memorial Society of BC, Grief Narrative, and the Family Caregivers of BC, the BC Bereavement Helpline, Seniors First BC, Dying with Dignity Canada, and CINDEA (Canadian Integrative Network for Death Education and Alternatives).
Ngaio and I were happy to connect with new and old friends at the KORU table. We answered practical and logistical questions and lent an open ear and heart to the esoteric and philosophical queries. Visitors browsed samples of the local and environmentally-sustainable shroud and urns that we had on display and signed up to be informed about our Spring workshop. We also had a raffle draw for two gorgeous gift packages (including books about green funeral and practical end-of-life guide)! We had over 75 folks who visited the KORU table. Thank you to all who came by to chat with us!
Despite our death-avoiding culture, a growing number of people do the best that they can to prepare for the inevitable – for themselves and for the family they leave behind. I think this is a step in the right direction.
Thank you to the SFU Continuing Studies Department, to the organizers, speakers and all participants of End-of-Life Matters Education and Resource Fair!
Your fellow mortal,