End of Life
Support in dying, grief, and ceremony
For an experience that is common to us all, we are largely insulated from death. When death does hit close to home, many of us don’t know what to do. Even if we want to gather people together to grieve, tell stories, and remember those who have died, death often sends shock waves that rock family members and friends, making service planning difficult.
It can be a great gift to have someone come alongside us as we walk in the shadow of death. Each person, family, and death experience will have different needs when it comes to end-of-life support. As a trained pastor with over a decade of experience, the accompaniment I am able to offer at the end of life extends beyond that of ceremony planning.
Where Do we Start?
Contact me (see form below) to set up an initial obligation-free exploratory conversation to see if I am the right person to support you. This meeting can happen in person or via video chat.
Help planning for the final days
We can talk about some of the important questions surrounding the end of life. What are your loved one’s wishes for their death? Where would they like to die? What would make for a comfortable environment? Who should be around? I can also help you draft a vigil plan – a clear yet flexible set of instructions that helps family members and friends support their loved one – and decide if you’d like to have a wake (viewing) after death.
Support at the time of death
I am able to accompany the dying and those present, offering prayer, anointing with oil, sharing sacred readings, or other practices and ritual elements as requested.
While I am not a grief counselor, after years of providing pastoral counsel and companioning the bereaved, I have developed a simple and conversational way to help orient family members and friends to the unique and multifaceted journey of grief. This session also helps you identify what you, and those grieving around you, might need as you learn to integrate the loss into your life.
Ceremony planning and officiating
I will gather with you and others you may want to include in the process, to listen to you share about the person who has passed. In order to help you create an honouring and personal ceremony, I’ll ask you to share stories about their life, values, successes, and imperfections. We’ll discuss the kind of ceremony or ceremonies you want: funeral, memorial service, celebration of life, and/or graveside service. I will help you design the ceremony as we talk through what and who you’d like to be involved. I will provide support such as sample readings, prayer, poems, bulletins, song choices, and tribute writing guidance. On the day of the ceremony, I will arrive before the service to provide practical and emotional support to everyone involved in the service. I will then lead the ceremony with compassion, thoughtfulness, and care.
Three to six weeks after the death, I will meet with you to talk about your experience of the events leading up to and after the death, as well as the death itself. This time of reflection helps with meaning-making and grieving.
As time permits, my involvement in end-of-life care is part of my work as a pastor which is supported by Estuary Church. Contact me to discuss availability.
Painting above is a detail from Gustav Klimt’s, Pine Forest, 1902