Being present with the Dying, is an understanding of being in the moment, in the now to embrace assisting your loved ones move forward into the next step.
“He said, “”There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live””, Dalai Lama
And we have a very special guest today, Linda Bryce, and she comes to us from beautiful, beautiful Massachusetts, United States. So let me tell you about all the other fun things that we talk about here on our podcast. We focus on real and raw conversations with our listeners, about their journey from a life changing event in their life.
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Let’s get back to talking about our subject today. All right, Talking TABOO with Tina podcast listeners. I’m so excited for our special guest today.
Her name is Linda Bryce, and I’m going to bring her on today from beautiful Massachusetts. And hello to all of those out there in viewing land. Yes, this is not the truth. It is a viewing land. So thank you for Massachusetts for joining us today. Linda. I’m just gonna give a brief introduction for our listeners. So Linda is an amazing, amazing person. She is a former attorney and our artist, a university faculty. She is a death doula and a bed sight singer. She Let’s see here. While might she says while my experience is vast and colorful, it has led to hundreds of bedsides and the passionate work I do now to serve the dying and those who love them. And I’m so excited today, Linda, because I talk about being present to people, our listeners all the time. Because you can never get that time back again. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
So we need to be really considerate about those times those precious moments that we are given by the universe to spend that special time with others, the ones that we love and care about so much. And I know that you have quite the story if it’s brought you to where you are today. So maybe you could start off with where did it all start for you, Linda.
I’ve always been about music. And what came into my head immediately was the lyric from an I don’t know whose song it is.
But it’s been a long and winding road. My oldest daughter turns 39 in a couple of months. And when she was beginning to walk, I remember walking into a nursing home and asking, Do you have anyone here who gets no visitors? We would like to visit like Where’d that come from?
Although I was raised more by my grandparents than my parents, for lots of reasons. And so I spent my growing up years around old folks. You know, one of one of the exercises, I, I suggest to people is that just because my experience and sort of my tendency, if you will, is to spend time with elders who are sick or dying, that you may be drawn to a different group of people, maybe for children, no.
So, um, the years go by, I’m a lawyer, I’m working in health law, I worked on legislation for nursing home, to change the conditions, or change the standards.
As a college student, I helped the local medical school create a local neighborhood health clinic, you know, and, and I, even myself, I didn’t begin to piece all these things together. But a number of months ago, I was taking a walk with someone who was new to me, we’re getting used to each other. And she says, so what have you done in health, Linda? Meaning before when I do now, and I started seeing this thread, and there’s, I’m sure there are threads in each of our lives and each of your lives, threads that when you when you begin to pay attention, and look back, it’s like, oh, yeah, you know, this happened. Oh, yes. That happened. And, and then, and then where I lived at the time, and my children were growing up. I worked with two other churches, there were, there were three churches on three corners. And representatives from each of the church, this came together.
And we created a an adult care center. So for families who had a person who needed who could, who could use some socialization outside of the home and give the caregiver a break. Right. And then we put together the funding for it and the staffing and all like that. So it’s like, okay, so fast forward, though, to what brings me to where I am now is then six years ago, my husband died. And, of course, I was I was there, you know, in his last hospital day, and however long that unfolded, and, and it would have been helpful to have your backup plan. This is the messiness, folks when you don’t get it together ahead of time, there is a saying that I’ve read about and heard about. It’s always too soon. until it’s too late. Right? We always have excuses.
Oh, it’s too soon. It’s too soon. I’m healthy. No problems. It’s too soon. You know, I’m young, it’s too soon. And then as you’re saying something unexpected happens. And then what? Yeah. And then after, after he died. maybe six months later, my aunt, and I’m very close to those cousins that aren’t. And I didn’t even ask, I said, I’m coming to me. Can I fix it? I’ll say I said, Well, no, no. Let’s be careful. Please, don’t mix. Well, no, because that’s Isn’t that an issue for us. When we’re fully present we want to fix we wanted well, but we think helping is fixing. Oh, I’m gonna give you advice. Oh, my person that I know use this other treatment. Um, are you sure the doctors are an all you’re doing is heaping on for more burden and stress and oh, my gosh, you know, and, and, and we’re taking the focus off of the person who should be the focus have our presence.
Not only that you’re causing the stress amongst everyone else that might be around as well. That’s right.
So I was I was with her and, you know, supporting her supporting my, my cousins. In hindsight, because so to two things happened with my aunt then one is I’m not knowing what a death doula was not even having heard that terminology. Now looking back now that I have a certificate, as an end of life doula, I was doing those kinds of things, for her, and with my cousins.
And the other was on the night, that would be her last. And she’s restless hand, it’s, of course, the middle of the night. And I’m reading from her Bible. And as a Catholic, she always said the Rosary. So I was doing that. And then I started singing. It was a natural impulse. Because singing has been a part of my life. And I began singing, singing songs from her tradition. And just, I don’t know, singing with her, it would help her feel at peace. Oh, Oh, sure. We can. I hope we get to talk about bedside singing in its own little nugget. Because there’s, there’s so much there. But to get to where I am now then, is two months, three months after I returned, there was an ad in our local paper. And they were looking for singers for a new choir to sing at the bedside of the dying. Oh, man. And that’s how then what is now called the Berkshire threshold choir. How it was created? Is that new? Is that a new thing? It was new, it was new in 2016. Yes, and I was one of the original members.
I then also went through hospice training, and seeing for persons who are referred by hospice, only, not only those who are in hospice, and I also am separate from singing what’s called a vigil volunteer. So when someone now is very close to the end, and we sit vigil, right, don’t we say that we’re here. And, and if if family is around, or friends around, if they’re able to do that, if they’re willing to do that, we can have a discussion about that, you know, what does it mean to be fully present? And what are some of the obstacles or barriers to people being there? But you’re there around the clock, you’re sitting vigil, until the last breath. And so I go, and I sing, and I sit in silence. And I find myself here today. Because, because what I do, and this is another thread throughout my entire teaching and education and, and sharing my life, what I do, every single one of us can do.
And my mission is to encourage you and support you and show you how you can be there and why it really is best if you can be and we forgot to mention your book, Linda, the courage to care. Being fully present with the dying is the subtitle. Yeah. Yes. So what would that look like for you after gone through your husband’s passing and your and what does that look like for you to tell the listeners what being present what singing is for the people that you’re with at the moment? What does that picture look like?
Okay, so if we, if we focus for a moment on the singing, I receive a referral from hospice, they say, Mary, we’d like you to come and sing for Mary’s family, we’d like you to come and sing.
I should also say that being fully present with it dying, but remember dying. I’m dying. From the moment we’re born, we’re dying.
Right? So, if in your mind when you hear the word dying, you are visualizing someone on their deathbed. Well, yes. But most often, no. These are individuals who are still alert, maybe still ambulatory. Now we had a young man say, Okay, I’m still alive, give me you know, none of this. None of this soothing, consoling end of life check out different kinds of music. But yes, but then it means and on the first visit, the first visit, it’s Hello, I’m Melinda. And I’m here to share some music with you when to sing some song. With that few all right with you?
Oh, yes. Now, as a threshold singer, we have our own repertoire. Over 500 songs, many of which were written by other singers. And a sidebar, really fun. The story is that soon after I began singing events side, I received my first song and I have to say received, because it came through me words and music. And in the years, since I might be out walking, and a song would come, I might be on retreat, and a song would come, I might be reading something in a book, and a song would come. Some of those songs, my chapter now sings regularly at the bedside. There’s always silence in between songs. Think about throwing that pebble in the pond and the ripples. Right? That’s, that’s the way the vibration of our speaking. And if our singing also goes out. And if you throw a pebble in and then throw another pebble in, and those two, right, they don’t have their own space.
The same happens when you sit. Or I should say the same happens, I think, I would suggest when any of us listens to music, doesn’t it bring to mind maybe some Association. Or we pick up on a particular phrase or a particular word. And somehow we’re staying with that. Where there’s a piece of the melody that really resonates with us. And we stay with that melody. If when we’re finished with that song on, we immediately go to another one. interfering with the interior reception of that song we’re interacting with that listener is doing inside. So there’s always silence. No, Simon and Garfunkel said the sounds of silence. Right. It’s all sound.
Absolutely. So that helps people be more present. Have you ever been around any of the families that kind of need a check? Like a check in you know, they’re talking there’s too stressed around each other as well as themselves. They’re not being present to allow the same the discussion the nice story Perhaps or or whatever the family wishes to do to talk about. I mean, it’s definitely not the time to talk about Where’s your will? And how many, you know, where are your bank accounts? I have, excuse me, I have already been in a nursing home singing to someone when family is there, and the army, they start talking about who’s going to get the ball. And this person hasn’t, hasn’t died yet. It’s, that’s a great example of not being present.
No, if you want to have a shout, who’s going to get the possessions? Could you please name the row? My strong suggestion, please leave the room even individuals who are no longer speaking, who are not responsive, and you will hear and read this everywhere that hearing is one of the last senses to leave, they can still hear and how distressing
is it to be there in bed approaching your last breath and your family or so called friends are discussing those kinds of matters. Exactly. That. I will also say and I’ve seen this countless times is that once I or we, because we try and go in pairs so that there’s hardly any begin singing our songs. There is a transformation in the feeling of the room. And he even in those family members who may have just been elsewhere. Well, I mean, let’s face it, it comes down. Everybody comes down.
They all come. They all come with their fears. They’ve all come they’re nervous, they’re anxious, they’re don’t know what’s gonna happen next. All of that stuff. So this helps relieve that. That anxiety
it calms them and comfort them as much as the person in the bed. Nice. Can you give us an example a little example. Oh, gee. Um, okay. So I’m, I’m being mindful of copyright and all of these songs. So I will I will. I will choose one of my one of my one of my songs. I knew you were going to do this without knowing you were going to do this
May you know that you may be more they up
Thank you for the silence.
That’s beautiful. I muted myself so I could really, really enjoy it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so very much.
You’re welcome. That came from a pilgrimage in Wales. Oh, really? Yes, my, my, my, one of my sons in law is Scottish. My husband was Irish. You were mentioned during your Irish viewers and listeners. He was from County Wicklow folks. My son in law is from Stirling, Scotland, his family still over there. He’s now married to my third daughter. And when they had a big celebration, after they were married, had a celebration in Scotland that they wanted some of my daughter’s family, the bride’s family to make the trip.
So I said to myself, okay, I said all the way to Scotland, for when he I know, I will go back to Wales, and take the pilgrimage that I had wanted to do.
Several years earlier, I had heard that they’ve finished their Coastal Walk and so forth. And once a number of years ago, my husband and I went out there for a wedding, not in Wales, but wedding in England. And when he couldn’t come last minute work, I went, I rented a car. And driving on the other side of the road. Notice folks, I did not say the wrong side, it’s just the other side, just like you would say, I drive on the other side. I ended up in Wales. Holy well, and then along Anglesey Island, and I had always said to myself, Oh, I need to come back here. And so I put that those two together. And I walked around the island 130 miles on there, to walk while I was doing that. I was visiting cemeteries, nice old cemeteries, to who knows who goes there anymore.
And I found myself looking at the headstones, reading them, and asking questions. And you know, I, I do that even at bedside, when I’m called to sing, for example. And when it’s vigil, so someone is dying now. And I haven’t sung to this person before, in the quiet yet in the silence between someone’s I’m asking, you know, I wonder who you were, and what your glorious life was? And what, you know, what, what might your history be? And are there people? So I was I was doing that, as I was walking around. And this the first part that the IP see a piece? And yeah, you’re still remember, no one else I’m remembering right now. You know, and you’re always loved. And I would, I was playing with that as I was walking. And that someone was the result? Oh, wow.
That’s so cool. Um, what are the other things that they enjoy doing? After the music? Do they just like to tell stories and hold hands? And what are kind of some of the kinds of things?
Yeah, you know, I would say, Yes, all of that. And the first part of being present is we need to be first part of being fully present is we need to be present. I hear so many individual tools who, Oh, I can’t do that. Why? I want to remember them the way they were. That’s, that’s one. Or I’ve been I had, I was at a writers conference. And this woman said to me I never go see my family who were dying. I said, Really? Why not? She said, because I am guilty about not having kept in touch as often as I thought I should. And I was about to say something back to her. And she turned on her heel and walked off. You know, here’s okay. So you haven’t seen them in a while. But go Why did your family you know what? Your family whether they’re strangers, people I speak to they’re not family. They aren’t friends, they become friends. Why? Because I make a commitment to visit. I tell them that. And that’s, that’s part of the being present. You’re saying you are worth my time. You are important. Your life was important is important. No, you are remembered. You are respected. I mean, this is this is how many of us when we know this company, put on our stripe because we want to look our best. And you’re seeing people who are you seeing them in this intimate? situation?
Who can only be who they are? Well, impossibly Yes. And look the way they are.
But but that’s so I remind people, you know, they’re more than just this moment. I have this stop, see the whole person, you know, see the whole person. They’re more than this illness. They’re more than what they look like. They had they had a wonderful life. Their spirit is still vibrant. know, when I now share that, there that connection? Absolutely. And I know when my ex father in law was passing away. I couldn’t stay in the room. Actually. I got too hot. I was burning up, sweat was pouring down. me like I was working out.
Everyone else was sitting around with jackets on. And I wanted to strip down. I couldn’t stand the heat in the room. There was so much energy in that room. Thank you. Because I was gonna say yes, yeah. As soon as I went out of the room, and down the hallway, it was like, Oh, my God, the air conditioner came on. And I’d walk into all these other rooms, and they’d be lying in bed all by themselves. And I’d hold their hand and I’d ask them why they’re here, what they were doing if they could speak. And I talked to them. And even if they couldn’t speak, I’d I nod and try and just speak to I didn’t saying I’m not a singer, but I did talk to them. And even one lady came out of the shower. And the nurse had just basically thrown the towel on her and she was sitting in this wheelchair, practically naked. And here’s, they called me, Florence Nightingale, because I was going around helping these different people. Because I couldn’t stay in the room. I was sweating. And then once whence, throughout the time, I popped my head in and said try to sit down for a while. I noticed him shaking his head like No, no. And it wasn’t because like people were just talking amongst each other. But he was shaking his head. I really feel that he was shaking his head because they were coming to get him. They were saying it’s okay. You can come it’s safe to come. We want you and he’d shake his head. No. So the energy was so overwhelming for me that I could have literally just fainted right there on the floor. That’s how powerful it was. And I guess I didn’t realize it at that time. So I would go out and that’s why I’d go down the hallway and try to help others and then come back in. But I just want few listeners and viewers. To know that there’s, it’s powerful, it’s a powerful moment that you don’t want to say no to ever. It’s, it’s, it’s a miracle. Really, it’s it’s absolutely a miracle. Sorry to interrupt your story. You didn’t, you didn’t.
That’s another aspect of being fully present, paying attention to the energy, you know, paying attention to how, how it’s feeling different. Paying attention to that shaking of the head, there, there are, there are other books that in their entirety. Talk about what often happens. In fact, so in one book, the author, Maggie Callahan, calls it nearing death awareness, nearing death, awareness, she’s given it a name. This is an old book, I began in the 1990s. But it’s, it’s exactly about that. And even in some of the interviews I did for my book, it comes up again.
I want to go back centuries. You know, so very different from today, where we tend I want to be careful with my language, different today, where there are those of us who don’t want to be present. Because we’re afraid, because like this young woman, we’re guilty. are we feeling guilty? but also from I’ve had people say, but what’s correct? It’s this what’s correct, I don’t want to do the wrong thing. What’s the right thing? Whatever else is going on, it keeps us away from this time, which will not come again, centuries ago, and even not that Fargo. People routinely wanted to be wanted to be at the bedside. One because this person was considered a community member, and you honored every community member, and the life they had and the connection they had and the contribution they had, just by being a member of the community. So you wanted to be there. And they wanted to be there because of that, because they believed that as that veil thins, and we’re we’re passing out of this physical body and regaining our spirit nature. Before before we transition and crossover, there’s this time where we’re seeing people who are already there, and we’re getting messages. And we’re talking to people who are already there. And they’re saying, Oh, yeah, I want to be here for these words of wisdom that might be coming through.
There are books that as I mentioned, books, and including a couple of in several of the interviews, I did also
the surviving family, talk about Oh, yeah, my dad was looking up this way, this way, this way. And I and I asked what’s going on dad? And he says, oh, their armies up there. And they’re moving. And they’re, Oh, okay. What’s going on? is fighting? No, they’re not fighting. They’re making plans. They’re making plans. You know, and, and sometimes, this nearing death awareness, you’ll hear people use different language, like, I have to get my ticket. Or I need to make sure I’m packed. You know, it’s their language, this well indicates that they know they’re getting ready. where they are in their journey. That’s right. That’s right. If we pay attention, if we are fully there, we’re not checking our phones. We’re not we’re not wondering how long this is going to take. Or you know who’s coming to dinner. I mean, whatever. Whatever else is going on in their life, just be here, just be here and share this this amazing mystical time.
Absolutely. Where did you see the shift from? When it’s almost, if anybody this watch the Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, that’s what I visualize when the grandpa was dying. And that kind of timeframe? Where are they all sat around the bedside of someone passing away? Where did that kind of shift for us when we came into the 60s? Or the 70s? Or was it after the war? Or? So?
I’m not sure I understand your question, Where did we shift away from being a bedside? Mm hmm. Where did that it seems to have taken on in By the mid By the mid 1900s, you know, night, my 1950s on since then. And I would, I would suggest being generous about this, that there are some other factors contributing to it. We’re more mobile society. You know, in one generation, my, my dad worked in the factory at this particular place, and he was there until he retired. How many of us these days will spend our professional lives in one employ, it doesn’t happen and more likely with the exigencies of economics and so forth, we move to where the work is. So we may not we may not be living where our elders are. We may not be able to go back to where elders are. We may not be able to afford now health care I granted is different in Canada than it is here in the States. It’s terrible here.
When when you’re old and sick folks, and the prices so that contributes to it, then it contributes and, and, you know, now, my mom died at home on hospice. She and my dad, were living in Florida, and I’m up here in the northeast, I would go down and visit, I would go down and visit, I would go down and visit. And the last time I went and visited was turned out it was maybe two weeks before, before she she took her last breath. But I couldn’t be there. I had a family and for children. Now my dad after his stroke, I brought him up to Pennsylvania. He wanted to go there it’s like it had a connection for him. We don’t need to go into all that but and then eventually, because I was driving five hours each way every week to check in on him in addition to telephoning you know.
I then when we moved again, I moved in with with us now with us didn’t mean in the same house. Because he needed ranch. We had stairs, I mean, you know so so then you get into those kind of living arrangements. Where can can you even even if your heart were there to want to have an elder live with you is the setup. One that supports that, and it wasn’t. So as long as he could be he was in his own little apartment in town. And I was always there and driving him here and there and then when the next stage was shot defined in the assisted living facility for him. What was fortunate at the end was because he was a veteran, he sought action in world war two in the Pacific. I was able to get him into a Veterans Hospital. And he lived on their long term care award. Oh, that’s nice until he died. And, you know, he was among guys. I mean, there were women, we females tend to have longer life expectancies. So when you have men in these assisted living facilities and so forth, the ratio is so skewed.
Is that when all the men think they died and gone to heaven with all the women around?
Um, I wouldn’t say that. No, no, perhaps perhaps, an individual might. But no, you know, this, this this way he was among he was among guys. And they had, they had that connection of being better veterans that step and have lots of visitors. Including me, I mean, he was only 45 minutes away. So he was he was still within, within driving and visiting distance. There are a lot of there are there are multiple, complex reasons and situations why we can’t always be with someone with a family member at their last breath, right? As an M. Yes. And when you talk about unexpected, you know, unexpected developments, not only COVID to being taking people and dying, but then also also interfering
with, with our natural traditions that help with our grieving with being there, and funerals and community and memorial services. And I like that. Yeah.
Well, I want to mention to the listeners that it just, if you can be there and be present, for that moment in time, you won’t regret it. And it just feeds your soul. It just feeds, it’s so far deep inside you that it might make you sad on the outside. But it’s just it’s just tickety boo on the inside. It just makes you feel so wonderful inside. I can’t explain it.
Some of the hospice hospice workers and nursing aides that I that I interviewed for the book said that the most sort of complaint, if you will, for remark that they hear from survivors is regret. I didn’t go I wish I had gone even friends, you know, longtime friends, I drove my dad out from Pennsylvania to Jersey, and and we found that the wife was in the hospital and the husband was actively dying. And then in, in a nursing home. And so we went out to see him. And, and you don’t have to worry about what to say or what to do. Just be there. You know, my, my dad said to me, I said to Joe and I talked to Joe a little bit. He was he was alert enough to be able to say weekly. Oh, I al good to see. You know, I mean, they had known his his wife was my mother’s maid of honor. That’s how long friends they were. And, and I said, you know, I’m going to let the two of you just sit here. And and I tell this story. You know, my dad kind of looked at me like, Don’t leave me alone.
I said, just just tell them what you’ve been up to just tell them that what you remember about the times together? You know you can do that when you know this person. Or maybe it’s something from your someone from your neighborhood. Maybe it’s someone from your congregation. I mean, you have this, you have this connection, this bond. Yes, you do. And, and so what I want to say is please don’t wait until the end. You Know when someone receives a challenging diagnosis. And then when it becomes clear it’s terminal. And now, the focus is on comfort care rather than cure. Way too often read the literature, it’s heartbreaking. Friends begin to die off, friends begin to die off. I just realized what I just said, you know, that’s crazy. Yes. It’s like this is when this person needs you to affirm who they are, and their place, in your mind and in your heart.
Do you have to stay well, no, you don’t have to stay long. Their energy might not permit you to stay long or for them to want you to stay long. But don’t abandon them. When you read so many individuals say oh, I feel abandoned. I’m isolated. No one comes anymore. No one calls. No one checks up. No one checks in. No one loves me. That’s the bottom. No one loves me. No one cares. I’m already dead to them. Right. Wow. That’s deep. So it doesn’t take much. No, it doesn’t take much stay in touch. Bring music. You heard Tina say she’s not much of a singer. I’m sure she sings in the shower or something like that or in the car with the radio. But music and just a quick go back to that I don’t have time we have left but then side singing. I looked up and there is a Vancouver and I have no clue how close this is to you. But there is a Vancouver threshold choir a Bowen Island threshold choir and a Quadra Island Campbell River threshold choir and you’re part of Canada. If you don’t, you can have threshold singers maybe come but just music, sing songs from the person’s generation sing songs that they grew up with. Yeah. And if you need to go, and this is one of my your backup plans is have a playlist, you can begin now to put together songs I have that you want to be part of a playlist when you’re getting closer.
To the end. Yes, yes. To the end of the beginning. Music has been called medicine. There’s so much research on the benefits. The health benefits, the emotional benefits on and on, of music, bring music, even if you aren’t going to sing, bring music. That’s beautiful. I would say to anybody, if you don’t know what to say, you don’t need to say anything. Just write music. And Touch. Touch is the most wonderful thing. hold their hand, hold their arm, whatever. It’s just you’re you’re there, you’re present, you’re with them.
And I would I would add as you do that. I know in one of the one of the suggestions hospice gives us is to put our hand underneath so that they can pull theirs away. We need to be careful of pressure. We need to be careful of thinning of skin what might feel easy for us. Maybe it’s just a little too much for them. It may be Could I hold your hand? Or does this feel all right? Or does this feel all right? Yes, yes. Yes touches something there’s something in psychology called touch hunger. And there was there was this woman who’s now gone. Who was on hospice off hospice and back on hospice. So I and we saying to her probably for most of the year when when I would come of course see I’m like this even that’s another thing please folks don’t bring your your gloomy expression.
You know, life.
Yes, life. slipping away. But Gosh, life is such a joy to be here. And, and, and the miracle of life. But so I go in like this all the time. This is who I am, I am joy when I go, and this woman would grab the front of my shirt and pull me down and give me a hug or give me a kiss, you know? And, and she’d say, I always feel so much better when you’re here. I almost feel so much better when you’re here. And I would suggest that’s probably true. Likely true. always true. of anybody you visit. Yeah. Because you were there. You made the time in your schedule to be there. They don’t have an option. No, they don’t have an option. There. They’re just they are where they are right now they are where they are you have the choice? May I encourage you to make the choice to be there?
What kind of final message? Would you like to get the listeners? Wow, we’ve had so many good tips and tricks.
This is what several people said to me. When I was interviewing, they said, think of the other person, not yourself. It isn’t, oh, I’m too busy. Or I don’t know what to do. Or I don’t know what to say that’s all about you. Right? Put the focus on the other person. What can I do to help the other What can I do? What can I do to journey with them on this path, that’s going to take them over the rainbow. And as you said before, it may be coming and sitting in a quiet even if someone is still I’m still alert. And when someone isn’t any longer, they can feel you just like you can feel someone in the room. They can feel your presence. Talk to them. Hi, Joe. This is Linda. I just came I just came to be with you in less time and sit in the silence.
Yes, it’s great energy. Well, thank you that was a beautiful ending, wasn’t it? You know, it’s it’s such a sad thing. And I think that’s what scares everybody. It’s it’s sadness and fear. And I think you just have to, you know, throw that stuff to the side and go in for the purpose of being there for the person. And yeah, it’s beautiful. Very, very lovely. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you. It’s a precious time. Yes, they go. They’ll understand just how precious it is.
Absolutely. Well, life is precious. And we learned that in many ways. Just this past week. My goodness, so many people with COVID and so many issues still with the second or the other virus that’s variant or, or, or the condo that collapsed or I mean, the list the list, we could go on and on and on. Right. So I hope you know I thank you so very much Linda for your courage and bravery to bring you to doing this lovely work that you do. It’s it’s absolutely wonderful and I hope our listeners can appreciate it as much as I have it’s it’s actually my joy to be there at bedside
Yes, it’s beautiful.
Thank you blessing it’s a blessing to me. Yeah, a blessing to the person in the bed. It’s also a blessing to me.
And and it should be a blessing to all those that choose to be there as well. And it’s right that’s correct. Yeah. Well, thank you, thank you so very very much Linda for your time and, and your tips and tricks for this show today. Wow. It’s full of it and it’s made my heart just want to come out it’s it’s beautiful. Thank you so every all our listeners, please take a moment and subscribe to our channel and click on that bell that’s down here somewhere.
And, you know, click the bell, I always sing our quick little song. With the with the bell rang my bell ring my bell down there, somewhere the subscribe button is. No one is Superman. So expect the unexpected, because that’s really what this pandemic did to all of us. We had to expect the unexpected, truly, truly We sure did. And everyone if you’re thinking of someone special right now, in your mind, please pick up the phone or FaceTime them or zoom them or Skype them or whatever it is. And tell them how much you love and care about them today because you don’t know what tomorrow may bring. And stay tuned for our next podcast and live streams on our YouTube channel and more great, great conversations just like Linda.
Thank you, Linda, for your beautiful work that you do. And sharing your time with all of us and our listeners that your backup plan tribe. Thank you. Thank you very much, Tina, outfitter saying. So stay tuned for our next podcast. I hope that we’ve inspired you and didn’t make you too sad and motivated you to start thinking about your unique plan. our one year anniversary is shows that our listeners are essential to our show. So thank you very, very much. Thank you for sharing your time with us and watching. I love each and every one of you and I always end with Carol Burnett because I know Linda knows who Carol Burnett was. She is such a fantastic lady. Maybe one day maybe from our YouTube channel here we can get to meet her I would. I would love to do that. So thank you Carol Burnett, free for your for your work in the world. That’s for sure. I’m so glad we had this time together just to have a laugh or sing a song. Seems we just get started. And before you know it comes a time we have to say so long. So long everyone. It was nice to have you stay safe. Stay safe, be kind
Linda’s mission is to pass on her understandings and show you how to be there at the bedside, fully present with anyone who is dying, and sharing in the mystery and wonder of death—and after. Her book is available – The Courage to Care: Being Fully Present with the Dying, support a new generation in awakening to living fully–even while dying–and relishing each day as a gift of joy and wonder. https://www.amazon.com/Linda-Bryce/e/… www.thecouragetocare.com
Managing Life & Death during a Pandemic, coming to you with Laurie Hurtubise at Anora Life.com. Very dedicated and personable to really go over those finer details of what you would like for your Life. I am very honored to have this type of expertise at my fingertips! Thank you Laurie! You are making a difference for families everywhere! Finding out about the small things that can really make a difference in your planning.
“The song is ended, but the melody lingers on…”, Irving Berlin
I’m very excited to have Laurie Hurtubise that is coming from the Vancouver area today on our show. Your Backup Plan APP puts your life all in one place everything that’s like up in your head that no one else knows about your passwords, where your documents are, where your stuff is where you’re where the maybe the cat food for the cat, where what kind of food do they eat? What kind of dog food do they have? Who the vet is perhaps? Do you have a kit ready for emergencies? Do you have that emergency kit? Do you know where your shutoff valves are for your home? Those are important things to know. And with Your Backup Plan APP, it puts all of the stuff that only you know about or you need to find out about and it puts it all in one place so that you’re prepared for the unexpected. And you take that painful Aftermath out about all that stress and worry and peace of mind that you’re covered. You don’t have to worry anymore. So let’s get this party started.
Here she is.
I’ll give her a wonderful, wonderful introduction.
Welcome, Laurie. Thank you, good to be here.
Laurie is a funeral director and owner of a normal cremation burial and events. And she’s located here in the Vancouver BC area. But that doesn’t mean you guys that things aren’t similar, or the same in wherever you are located. And if it isn’t the same, it will be something very similar. And it will give you some research to do for yourself too.
Oh, Laurie said this on the show. I’m gonna go check that out. So let’s get this party started here with Laurie.
Laurie comes to us from I think what should I say?
I think she has so much expertise and so many stories to tell us because I talk about funerals. Laurie all the time on the show, I talk about pre arrangements. I’ve been through a funeral home, I’ve taken a tour on one of our earlier podcasts, as well. And I’ve also had a gentleman on from Scotland talking about death and how celebration has changed. But we haven’t really dug deep into all the different choices that there are, and what worries people have, and maybe complications that can occur.
So I’m really excited to have this chat with with you today about stories that you can, you know, kind of enlighten us with things that have occurred with other people, perhaps situations that you wouldn’t want to see and things that maybe you’d like to see. So thank you so much for coming on our show today. Laurie, I’m so excited to get all of these kinds of things dug into, let’s dig right in. So let’s see Do you have First off, maybe tell us a little bit about yourself. And we can talk about pre arranged funerals?
Sure. So to tell you a little bit about myself, my name is Laurie Hurtubise.
And as you mentioned, I owner of a normal cremation burial and events, I have been in funeral service for about 14 years, I consider it to be my vocation, very passionate about it. Talking about sort of new options, some new options in BC are totally new, and others are kind of something old, that’s got a bit of a rebirth.
WHAT ARE GREEN BURIALS
So for example, green burials. Green burials are, are up and coming. So for example, we now have in the Lower Mainland area in Vancouver BC, options for green burial that we didn’t have 10 and 20 years ago, we in the past had to go off to the Mainland and there was just one where we could have a green burial.
So just to clarify what a green burial is. So that means that you are buried bearing directly into the earth. No embalming, no cement vaults, no grave marker on just on that particular marker, often it’s a a monument, a group monument for sort of that Meadow or that section. So people are still memorialized, but it’s done in a different way so that the Earth can go back to a natural setting. So green burial is, is something that’s up and coming here to become more popular, a lot more people are interested it in it and have the option. We’re really blessed in Coquitlam, the city of Coquitlam, for example. Robinson memorial is now developing a section that’s going to be a green burial section. So that’s awesome that they’re being proactive. out in Chilliwack. The city owned cemetery has also developed a section heritage gardens in South Surrey. is a I think, I think it’s the only sustainable cemetery. Having that that label in Canada, and they have sort of a modern traditional sections, as well as a green burial section.
They’ve even put in things like honeybees, you know, during practice things. So the thing with green burial is people who it’s reflective on the life lived. So if you’ve lived your life where you have made all these choices, to be good to Mother Earth do our best. No one’s perfect. But you know, people who have made that effort to do that,
then it only makes sense to reflect at their time of death to also make choices that are reflective of the life lived. So green barrels is a big one.
Can you can you do green burials also with cremation remains?
Well, I wouldn’t call it a green burial. cremation isn’t the best for the environment. However, cremation rate is very high in the swelling around the world. I mean, cremation is getting more and more popular.
I mean, I wouldn’t call it a green burial, but you can make a choice. If you are burying cremated remains in a container that’s biodegradable, than they’re at least going to go back to the earth as opposed to a metal or in a cemetery, you know, so there are choices that can be made that can be sort of a shade of green, you know, per se, but not, you know, the ultimate, but we can still do the best with, with what we’re working with, like if someone wanted cremation or what have you. So, yeah, I would say that
I also found with cremation, the scattering is getting more common as well, with families,
scattering is really common. A lot more common than it used to be. Me personally, for some people at resonates knowing that, oh, we went and scattered in this place, and they have and maybe it’s somewhere where they go hiking, I don’t know. And it works for the family. And that’s awesome. For me, I want to personally I like to personally have a place to go, that’s, you know, the place but you know, with scattering, it kind of varies. I’m going with water. And we have you don’t know where they’re going. However, there is something new called Living reef Memorial. And it’s pretty awesome. What it does is it creates they create a photo reef. So it is a reef made with sand, seashells and cremated remains. And concrete. Apparently, it’s sustainable or environmentally friendly concrete apparently. And it is cured for a longer period of time. And it’s this full reef and it goes into the ocean and it creates habitat. So it’s actually creating and an environment for for the fish and so forth. So, and part of the proceeds do go to turtle turtle rescue dot turtle rescue.org, I believe is what it is, which is pretty awesome. And so from that, you know the GPS, so if you are a boat, person and ocean person, then you can actually go out and know like, yeah, it’s down there. It’s not going anywhere. And it’s actually quite affordable compared to you know, cemeteries and so forth. It’s an affordable option, depending there’s varying prices, depending a fewer with a multiple cremated remains in one or on your own or as a couple. There’s varying prices, but I mean, it starts out at $800, which I think is quite reasonable if you Yeah. Yeah, all the positives of it to have the environmental impact. The going to back to the turtles, and also having the memorialization factor I think it’s a pretty awesome option.
That sounds really green. To me. That sounds like an awesome idea. Because then you still have like that place that’s still there. might be in the ocean, but it’s still there.
It’s not just scattered wherever I have a quick story to tell you about someone that I knew that scattered where I like your idea better because it’s it’s a permanent place that’s similar to scattering, because you can place them wherever you want. But it’s, it’s still a place, like you said, I think that’s really important for people to know that they could go to it. Whereas when you scatter, it’s, it’s disappeared. And this quick story I have is actually from the Coquitlam area. And this couple got where that was their second marriage. And she got very sick with cancer. And they used to take walks when she was really sick, and sit down by the lake. And it was a very small man made lake. And they would go for these walks, he would push her in the wheelchair, and they would sit on the bench and, you know, all that stuff. And she really wanted to be scattered there. Because that was their place that they would go to, at just like a lot of people fishing perhaps or wherever the you know, the person wants to watch it up so. So the lake disappeared.
Oh, they filled it in and built a whole bunch of concrete, high rises. His bench was calling, the lake was gone. That whole concept is now gone. And that really, really hurt him. And he didn’t even actually know. Because after she passed away, he went away for a year back to Europe, just to talk, spend time with family. And then when he came back, it was gone. Yeah, so people need to be really, really careful about what they choose. Because once you scatter it, you can’t get it back. Yeah, my advice quite frequently that I give to people is if you’re going to scatter, you know, you need to think about and that’s exactly it the case in point with your story. And that is if it’s a family cabin, you know, for example, Oh, you want to scatter at the cabin? Oh, sounds lovely. But what if you have to sell the family cabin, you’re going to feel lousy about it, or your next generations already going to feel lousy enough about if they have to sell it? throw that on top of it that you know it, you know, cremated remains are there. It just it’s heartbreaking.
So, these are the reasons why people need to really think through when they’re scattering, will I be able to access their again? Because otherwise it’s just going to cause more grief. Really? Yes. It brings it back up again. Oh, yeah. And different and more complicated. Right. No, absolutely. No, that’s why and also, there’s a lot of people out there who hang on to their loved ones cremated remains. So you know, so I respect that. I mean, I respect all people’s choices, of course, but I want to get people thinking about the long term. So okay, so you’re gonna scatter? You know, I’ve served people before where it’s okay, so are sorry, you’re gonna hang on to your loved ones cremated remains at your house.
Forever, what happens when you die? What’s your what’s the next generation going to do? Are they going to keep just collecting these cremated remains? When does it end?
You know, so I, my recommendation is if if you feel comfort and having your loved ones cremated remains with you, awesome, but you need to make it clear in your will. What’s going to happen not only with your wishes, but the wishes of these cremated remains of your loved one that you have. So when the time comes when you die, what’s going to happen with these cremated remains? Because the I’m just gonna hang on to them. That’s, that’s not a permanent solution. Right? So it might be good for, you know, a period of time and comforting and all those things, but you need to be thinking about the long term. And it’s all really and a lot of it comes down to thoughtfulness of the next generation and care of the people who you love. What is what it comes down to really There’s a practical and there’s a heartfelt side to it. Right.
Right. And that’s why I kind of like the I also the idea of planting a tree, you know, in a big pot or something and putting the cremation in that, because then you can pass on the tree to the next generations, you know that. That could be that could mean something. Yeah, but yeah, you have to do lots of thought, and thinking, has there been any experiences that you’ve had, that they made the wrong choices? And now they’re trying to fix it?
Um, I mean, I know that there’s a lot of people out there that have cremated remains in their closet. All across North America, I talked to people constantly. They’re not on the mantel. No, there’s Tina, he would not believe the amount of people it’s that. If you don’t make a choice, within that first year, the choice isn’t going to get easier in the second year, the third year. Right. Like, I respect that. It’s, it’s hard to make that choice.
But yeah, if you don’t make it, then literally there, you know, I actually have a blog called, I know what’s in your closet, and you are not alone. Right, it’s so I, to me, that’s one of the biggest, most common challenges that I see is that people have cremated remains in their closet, and they don’t know what to do with them, because they’re afraid of doing the wrong thing. Because their loved one didn’t tell them what they wanted done with them. And so they are, you know, it’s fear that stopping them from moving forward, because they don’t want to do the wrong thing. They want to do the right thing. But they don’t know what that is. That’s what I see over and over again.
And so I, I do help people, even if I haven’t served them, you know, with the cremation itself, even if years have gone by, and you know, if people want to call me up, I do put it out there as an offering. I call it the finale, where let me sit down and talk to you and get to know you and help figure out what’s the best thing for your family so we can move forward. So that there’s, there’s a final resting place, there’s some resolution, I mean, obviously, your grief is never going to end, you’re going to get to a different place with it of acceptance and your life will, you know, get to a better place. But the you know, I’m happy to help people to figure out what to do with those commutator means when they’re just lost.
You talk about the closets. What I saw when I worked in the funeral home, in this area as well, was a lot of remains are left at the funeral home, and no one comes to pick them up. That’s another huge problem across North America.
So for me, and that comes what I discovered is this. I have talked to people, and I could see I bring it up right, right in the beginning, when we’re sitting down when we meet for the first time. I asked because they might not know the answer at that point what they want done with their loved ones cremated remains, but I want to at least plant the seed that you need to start thinking about it. I have discovered that or I discovered early on in my career, I should say is that not everyone has a sentimental attachment to cremated remains like I might.
Or you might, you know, other people might look at them as you know, the person’s gone. That was just their shell, which I totally respect where they’re coming from. So by having that conversation right, in the beginning, it gives an opportunity for to have a conversation. It’s okay not to want to have your loved ones cremated remains. It. It’s okay not to have sentimental attachment if that’s how you feel. That’s how you feel. It’s not wrong. Neither is it wrong to feel sentimental attachment. All these feelings are totally appropriate. It’s personal. But the bottom line is we need to talk about it. When we talk about it in that first meeting. Then I can give people options. You have no sentimental attachment. Okay. Do you want me you know, do you want to professional to just take responsibility And, you know, perhaps scatter on your behalf, what have you, rather than just never come?
Or I know, there’s been miscommunications where, you know, where I’ve worked in the past where, Okay, I’m gonna, I’m gonna just be calling people like, maybe they don’t know. And sure enough, there’s some families where, oh, I
thought, you know, so and so my brother picked them up, what do you mean, they’re still there, you know,
things like that.
But the bottom line is, is if you talk about it right from the beginning, then it’s, it stops all those problems from happening, to tell people like it’s okay to feel the way you feel. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t feel you know, and because it’s rare for people to talk about that a lot of people talk about how they’re still connected to cremated remains, and it’s their loved one. But again, taboo, you know, talk with Tina here, you know, it’s okay not to be emotionally connected to those cremated remains, you can love the person and not feel attachment to those cremated remains. And we just need to say it, and we just need to make a plan based on that. And that’s okay. That’s what I found.
Yeah. Because otherwise, it’s like, Meet the Fockers, where the remains are left on the fireplace mantel, and somebody touches it, and then they fall all over the floor. So, yeah, I, I could not believe the amount of remains that are left in the closet. So how long are they supposed to be left there?
Well, okay, so funeral law varies from province to state, you know, each country is different, right?
So in BC, as a licensed funeral provider in BC, we have to just continue to contact the family, there’s a certain thing like, I’ve worked for funeral homes, where they’ve gone through the process, what they there’s, you have to put it in the newspaper The name for a certain amount of time and multiple times. So you have to do your due diligence, try to contact them, you know, the phone numbers change to dresses change, you put it out there. And then eventually, they would insure them, so then it actually, quite frankly, it cost the funeral provider money because they will, what what normally would be done is to take multiple cremated remains and enter them in a cemetery. And that way, if family does come back in the future, then they can access them there. Whereas if you go and scatter them, you know, like, you can’t just go and gather them or, you know, like they need to be.
So it’s, you know, the pressure is actually on the funeral provider, if people don’t come, you know, you’re kind of it sounds terrible, stuck with them, you don’t want to say stuck with them. But it’s a huge, you know, like, you can’t do anything, you can’t do anything, you’re pretty limited, except what I mentioned, which is going through, and so the funeral provider can spend the time and the money to put it out there and to ensure and you know, the cost of the cemetery, so on and so forth. Otherwise, we’re really limited. I mean, that’s why, for me, personally, I, you know, I have learned that’s why I don’t have cremated remains in my possession for a long period of time I deliver them to the family, and you know, in a fairly timely manner. For that reason.
Yeah, because I think sometimes I mean, animals, you can get your pet cremated, and have the remains. But, again, what are you going to do with those remains after, and sometimes I think people look more favorably upon their pet cremation than their aunt or the grandmother or somebody for some weird reason. But tell us about all the things they can do with the cremations because I know there’s so many choices out there, that they could really investigate and research and choose one.
Right, so things to do with cremated remains. Yeah, so there’s quite a few options now. So obviously, in terms of cemetery so there’s things we touched on which would be ensuring a cemetery scattering the living roof Memorial, of course. Some people choose to put cremated remains into a pendant or into blown glass as a memorial keepsake. And some people actually sorry not just in like independent or in a glass pendant depending sort of in or encased with glass. Some people are getting them portion of the of cremated remains embedded in their tattoos. Happiness Hmm.
Yeah, it’s, it’s become quite popular actually. I mean, tattoos are pretty big, you know. So a lot of people are opting to do that to have like a memorial tattoo for their loved one with the cremated remains. You can get cremated remains put into a vinyl record. You can have them put into like Memorial stones. So they’re Preston’s. So they’re like keepsake stones. You can have them put into fireworks. Yeah. There’s people that put them into ammunition. or crazy into into space. There’s that. Oh, gosh, there’s so many options. What am I forgetting? Um, there’s the ornaments. The glass blown ornaments I’ve seen? Yeah. So yeah, I mentioned the diamond rings.
Oh, yeah. Sorry. That’s the other big one that I missed. Yeah. So you can have cremated remains turned into a diamond. And they are all different depending it has to do with the carbon content. Some of them tend to have a little bit of a more of a bluish, kind of a blue huge width. It depends, though. Yeah, I did. I did serve someone in the past where they had it was they added it, it was a special ring that their partner had given them. And then after their partner died, then they got a stone added to it or Yeah, it was it was nice, pretty cool. Yeah. Yeah, she got really not everyone, you know, you can see that, that it’s that it’s a legend.
Like it’s a legacy that you’re leaving to that next generation and the next. So at least when the person gets it, it means something. That’s what I I always think about what I like is that just multiple options, because what one person thinks is amazing, another person doesn’t. So I love being able to have all these options. So see what resonates with people, right? Yeah, I mean, every every life is unique. So it needs to we need to have varied options.
Absolutely. And then there’s the tree planting. I know that some people like that and they can ask the tree down to
Yeah, so cremated remains in the the bottom under the tree and so that all this going back to the earth where the trees growing? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, um, another big thing as far as sort of new options and funeral service would be automation, also known as alkaline hydrolysis or cremation by water. So, the reason why people would be interested, you know, why bother changing right when we already have cremation is very efficient? Well, in fact, acclamation uses a 10th of the energy of a traditional cremation. And it’s much cleaner, much cleaner environmentally. And how did they do that? So it’s, they’re creating an alkaline environment.
So they take water, heat, the chemicals to make it more, change the pH to make them more alkaline. And essentially, what happens is, all the tissues, except for the bones are gone, just like with the traditional cremation, and you’re left with bone fragments, pathogen free bone fragments, the same as with a traditional flame cremation. And then they are then processed down to a finer powder, just like with traditional cremation, a lot of people mistake you know, often people will call cremated remains ashes, but really, they’re that fine powder because they’re being processed down. Alright, we’re not having when people scatter, there’s not chunks of bone, you know, to worry about. So they are processed down for practical reasons. Yeah, so with automation, you end up with the similar, you know, similar product. It’s gentler. It’s just more gentle.
Unfortunately, in BC, where where you and I are, it’s not legal yet. It’s legal in three provinces in one territory in Canada. I mean, it’s been used for years and years, quite frankly, for farmers for lifestyle. Oh, yeah. So it’s not a new concept. It’s more new for humans, quite frankly. But it’s a great option. So I’m, is it widely used in the United States as well? Some it’s legal in Washington State. And I think, actually don’t quote, quote me, it might be in Colorado. I’m not sure. I know. They’re working on some law changes there as well. So. So in some states, but not not all, were readily available.
Does it still get the same consistency of the remains like to be able to make jewelry out of it after? Is that still the same? Right, yeah. So it’s still, I mean, it’s still essentially bone fragments? So the color? Yeah,
absolutely. So it doesn’t change that. That the bone part? No. Okay. Um, what’s it gonna say? I have noticed a lot of wicker used for burial. Or I guess, cremation, I guess? I don’t know. I haven’t seen it in Canada. It might be here now. But I’ve seen it on on different sites.
Yeah, wicker is lovely. We have had wicker available to us in Canada for Gosh, I don’t know. 15 years plus, whatever, it is quite some time. For me, personally, I look at it because it looks really lovely. But when I’m assessing something, environmentally, I want to look at, you know, was it sustainably made? And was it made local? Like, are we shipping something from you know, for, you know, for what purpose? So for me personally, I’m, it’s not that I’m anti wicker, wicker is lovely. If someone local could make it, then I’d be, you know, I think that wood is awesome. But right now, like, for example, at an aura, we offer a locally made caskets and urns.
So I have made in Chilliwack, which is an hour outside of Vancouver. So there’s a local carpenter, and he’s been around for quite some time. And so his products, to me are more make more sense environmentally than getting, you know, the wicker from Thailand. Right. So, um, I mean, I do personally offer The Wicker, but I do, obviously, I’m pretty transparent. As you can see, it’s the, you know, what’s, you know, why do we, you know, what, what’s our goal here?
Yeah, that’s our goal. Our goal is to have something you know, better for the environment and to go back to the earth quickly, well, then that can certainly be done with a locally made casket. There’s also shrouds. It’s a tough one, some people even like, I have had a situation where even cemetery workers, so here they are, they deal with this every day, you know, this is their job. And, like, grounds crew, right? Yeah. Sorry, just to clarify that, you know, they’re used to people coming in with caskets, rigid caskets and, you know, one day going in with a shroud. Well, they, you know, some people have a tough time with it, because you can see the shape of the body, you know, it you know, it’s like, well, we all know what’s in a casket, but somehow, it’s our society.
It’s what we’re used to. And it’s hard for people to change. It’s hard for some people to get used to a new way of doing things. Right. So, you know, a shroud. A shroud is a you know, a great option for some families. I mean, environmentally, it’s great, going back to the earth quickly, but it’s different. What about, I do know that in off the coast of Florida, and I don’t know about our side, that there is like a ship, and you can have your commission put in the ship so that family members can go and dive after and look at the ship and and know that the person’s cremation remains are there? So that’s kind of cool, too. And I know you have to pay an extra fee for that.
But is there any issues of people deciding when something does happen, like COVID, where it’s an unexpected death, especially during 2020 and 2021, where they didn’t have their arrangements made prior. And they don’t know what that person wants it?
Okay, so for me, I know this is, I mean, obviously, COVID has really changed things for everyone. I think it’s gotten people really reflecting on their mortality. For me, personally, you know, as a funeral director, I was already living with this reality every day, not living in denial, as a lot of people in our society are, you know, to say, I hate I almost don’t want to say a positive the pandemic, like, that’s a terrible thing to say, obviously, but you know, trying to look at a silver lining, I suppose, is that people are thinking about their mortality, and they are starting to, people are calling me to talk about pre arranging, and they’re younger than what I, you know, they’re younger than I would normally be hearing from, which is wise, which is great for them.
But as far as have I experienced, well, you know, people being unprepared. Sadly, people have been unprepared for quite some time, whether a pandemic or not, right. A pandemic is just a more of a gentle reminder for people. You know, it’s like, it’s like when, you know, if your neighbor gets broken into you start thinking like, oh, gosh, I’ve had been locking my door, have I’ve been doing all those things. It’s just like, we all knew that we should have been doing these things, but it’s suddenly close to home. Right. So sadly, I have to say that people have been unprepared for quite some time. And I see it a lot. Which is why, you know, I don’t want to come off as a salesy person or pushing someone into something they don’t need when it comes to pre arranging. But I just see it all the time when people don’t pre arrange. And not only not pre arranged, but don’t even talk about it. So at the very least, to have that conversation with their loved one about what their wishes are. I see it all the time.
So people come in, and you ask cremation or burial and they don’t, they don’t even know about, you know, the most basic of the practical, you know, cremation or burial. Right. And there’s so much gray in our society today. So it might be Oh, gosh, okay, so is this a simple? You know, my simple question of did so and so have any religious affiliations? Even that isn’t a yes or no answer? No, that could be complicated. Well, they were raised this way. For a while. My dad used to take us to this church, and then this and then Oh, look, you know, like, whatever, you you know, what I’m talking about. And so there’s a lot of gray there. So trying to guess what the right thing is, is a tough game to play when you’re grieving and in shock.
And especially even more difficult when there’s more than just one. Because then they might not agree with each other?
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, at the end of the day, the executive makes the final decision. Right, and then fat can cause you know, more grief and conflict because they, you know, if there’s whatever multiple, let’s say, you know, multiple adult children, for example, they all just want the right thing that what they truly believe is the right thing. But it’s a guessing game. So then it causes more complex. So it just it just layers on. It just layers on. Yeah.
seen that part as well.
And with Your Backup Plan APP, it does help you prepare because it asks you the question.
Do you have any funeral arrangements prepared? Or do you wish to and to have the conversation because we have worksheets to be able to sit down and ask all those questions.
So at least you know the answers. Because brothers and sisters, I’ll tell you people, when there’s a death, it’s not usually very pretty. Ah, they fight about everything they can argue about this, they, you know, there’s always, or maybe even just one of the siblings can be that deterrent. And there seems to be always one in every family. It’s not like, it’s not just, you know, every family, it’s, it’s across the board, that the oldest one might have a different philosophy than the rest of the family. Or they might have thought things differently than the rest of the family. And so it just creates all this anxiety, stress. Now, family issues that you don’t even need, if you had it just sat down down the worksheet, and at least knew the answers at least do that.
No, I the amount of frustration, anger complications, that the backup backup plan, your backup plan can save by putting that stuff on paper, all those arguments, arguments and all that, Oh, my gosh, it can be avoided, it can absolutely be avoided. Because the person’s wishes are made clear. Right? I, you know, I find myself because of course for me. I don’t just ask people have you pre arranged? I mean, before you pre arrange. Do you have a will? Do you have your power of attorney? Do you have your advance care plan? Do you have your backup plan? Where’s your stuff? To compete? Do people know where your stuff is? Do they know where to find your will to the
lorry? They know, it’s it’s in the filing cabinet?
Yeah. Nope. Yeah. Right. When they when you hear the word just, it’s just in the filing cabinet. It’s just No, yeah, I have clients that have looked for 60 years to get their stuff together. After. And that was a just, I got everything done. Tina, I got it all planned out. I have my will and all my documents in the filing cabinet. I have the you know, if you’re looking for this or that it’s all done. It’s all. And I have to say that when someone does do funeral pre arranged funeral arrangements to be able to share that information with a family member. If you don’t have it put together all in one place. Because it’s like buying an insurance policy if the family member doesn’t know. Oh, yeah. It’s like having different bank accounts. And the family doesn’t know. It’s like having your pre arranged funeral arrangements all paid for and the family doesn’t know. What good is it to do all those things?
I don’t know the statistic offhand. You probably have a better idea than I do. In the amount of unclaimed life insurance money out there. It’s crazy. Yeah. And you know, so it’s, it’s that okay, you did a good thing. But you, you know, you need to do that follow through and let them know, or else it was all for not. And yeah, it’s the same with pre pre arranged funerals. If If you don’t inform your executor and your loved one, and put it in a place that’s easy to find that everyone knows, then it was all forgot.
Exactly. And that’s really the key. Because I’ll say to people to have a backup plan.
CELEBRITIES WITH THEIR MESSY ESTATE
Oh, yeah, I’ve got my will. I got my power of attorney. I got my living well, I’ve got I’ve done my funeral arrangements. I have life insurance.
Really? Okay, you have maybe a third of the things that you need to do. But does anyone know where all that stuff is? Because you could have a big estate, you could have hardly any estate. It doesn’t matter. And I put this book here because I knew there’d be a time and a moment where I was going to use it. But we are going to be on our show one time and talking about the big famous fortune fights because there’s a tremendous amount celebrities that had a tremendous amount of money. And I can talk about, you know, different ones. It doesn’t mean that if you have nothing that you shouldn’t plan, and that doesn’t mean that if you have a lot that you don’t plan, because you should. Here’s a few of the people, Robin Williams, really. Michael Jackson, Prince George Washington, Frank Sinatra, Benjamin Franklin, Harry Houdini, Wellington, Bert Johnson and Johnson fortune. J. Oh, that’s huge. Yeah, J Howard Marshall. I have to put my glasses on to see this. So, Texan oil billionaire J. Howard Marshall was 89 years old when he married 26 year old Anna Nicole Smith in 1994, who remembers that time. He died just over a year later without leaving Anna a dime of his $1.6 billion estate. She spent the rest of her life fighting unsuccessfully for a stake in his estate, but died in 2007 from a drug overdose. I remember she also had a daughter and she had just died after her state for her state fought on a portion of marshals money, but the only financial winners were the lawyers. So oh my goodness, there’s so many. James Brown, the godfather of soul music. I Turner, another blue singer, Nina Wang, one of China’s richest women died in 2007. left behind a $4 billion estate. Her lover Feng Shui master Peter Chan, claimed her inheritance, but was left with nothing when the court ruled it would all go to charity. I like this, there’s so many Look at this, there’s so many that aren’t prepared.
To to your point also, that you’re mentioning, whether it’s a larger state or a smaller state, what I see a lot is that people don’t want to spend their they don’t want to spend the money. Now they want to you know, enjoy their life. So they don’t want to spend money on the notary or lawyer should get their power of attorney and Will’s done. But really, they are saving money. But you know, by doing it getting it done now. I also see people who Oh, well, what about the online I you know, it doesn’t cost me anything.
People I’ve I served a family once where it didn’t hold up. Because I can’t remember that all the details surrounding it, quite frankly, it’s been a while, but it didn’t hold up. And so again, what you know, at that time, what it cost them maybe $200 to go to a notary maybe 250, let’s say. And instead it costs, you know, a bunch of money went to the government, you know, do we want our money going to the you know, or do we want it going to our chosen heats and charities and all that good stuff.
So, um, and yeah, so that.
Yeah, and tell us what happens if the person hasn’t made any arrangements. And they don’t have any particular family members? You know, because when somebody hasn’t made arrangements that government steps have you had to work with government.
Okay, so there’s a few different scenarios. So if someone dies without a will, in BC, we have a law that we follow. This is just for funeral arrangements. This is not to speak of the estate. This is just so that someone is served in a timely manner, when they’re, you know, we can’t leave someone in the fridge forever.
Oh, yeah. Right. So, if someone dies without a will, we are able to take care of things. And so there is a list like a hierarchy that we have to follow. So first would be a spouse, okay, so spouse, if there’s no spouse, then it goes to the next so it’s, you know, adult children, adult grandchildren, and it just keeps going from there. I actually don’t have it. I actually have it right here. It’s the cremation instrument and funeral services act. So yeah. Obviously executive. First off Her adult child, then it just it just carries on from there. If the deceased person was a minor or person who was legal guardian with the person with the deceased at the date of death, however, you have divorced parents that can fight that might not agree on what they’re, you know, what their wishes are for their child. Right, my burial, the other might want cremation who gets the cremated remains like that turns into so I mean, there’s that band law created to help but it doesn’t totally solve the problem.
Otherwise paired to the deceased and adult sibling of the deceased, an adult Matthew are nice. And if all else fails. The very last one, which is K. An adult person having a personal or kinship relationship with deceased other than those referred to impair, like above. So, but I mean, there are times where I’ve had to be a detective, like I got to make sure okay, so you’re telling me this, okay, well, I need to talk to all your siblings and make sure you know, or what have you? Or, you know, or Oh, your parents haven’t been together, but they’re actually still married? Okay, well, I need to take direction from your mother then or whatever. You know, like, it’s, it can be super complicated. I mean, it’s great that we have this law to help us so people aren’t stuck forever in limbo, but it doesn’t solve every problem. Let’s just put it that way.
Right? Yeah. Because if you haven’t made choices for your kids, I know, or, or even adults, other adults in the family, the government can step in and make choices for you where the kids are going to go. And, and that sort of thing. So I don’t know, I wouldn’t want a stranger looking after my stuff. Somebody who doesn’t know me. Well, no,
no, no. So how has COVID changed things for you guys?
Well, it’s been challenging to say the least. Only a small portion of the clients, client families that we serve, are having events or having funerals or memorials. Because in BC, we’ve been for a number of months only allowed 10 people at a funeral or Memorial. You know, people are just choosing not to do it. Because they feel like well, if it’s, you know, they want to honor their loved one, and they want to do it right, or what have you. And for them, that means everyone being present and able to hug and all those wonderful things, which, you know, I mean, I even I mean, I’ve gone through a death in my own personal family, and I can tell you how challenging it is. So people are a lot of people are choosing to have a private family visitation.
So they at least have that opportunity to see their loved one before the burial or cremation takes place. So that’s a positive thing. So yeah, we’ll have still been doing that. So I’m sort of taking guide, you know, accepting the guidance to figure out what’s best for them. And they have found that that has been a positive for them. So then, only a portion of people are doing hybrid or virtual events. A lot of people are just putting it off. And so there’s people that I served last year, because of course, we didn’t know how long this was going to go on. Now. I thought, oh, last March. Oh, let’s wait and see. Maybe we’ll have something in the summer. That was last summer. Right. And so I mean, I’ve reached out to people, you know, saying okay, well times gone by, do you want to have a virtual now and now they feel like they don’t want to go there? Because so much time has passed.
So what do you think is gonna happen to all those people that are waiting? Are they ever going to have it like the majority of people are not going to go back down that road?
Some people will, and some people won’t. And I think it’s gonna just help or it’s, it’s gonna, the grief is gonna be perpetuated, because, I mean, the big thing, whether it’s religious or secular, you know, whatever. However, the tone of the event is or what have you. The thing with a funeral is or Memorial. It’s about everyone coming together. And what’s our relationship now that, you know, this person isn’t with us anymore. Right now they used to they used to be the one that hosts parties, we just always see each other there. And now they’re not here. So what are we going to?
Are we going to see each other anymore? Are we going to make an effort like whatever it is just as an example, you know, so people need to come together. And and then everyone, everyone knows and they launched their grief together. Whereas people haven’t had that opportunity to launch the grief. They’ve been, you know, stuck at home and not been around people. And it’s just, yeah, it’s just, it’s just dragging it, just dragging it down making it worse.
Yeah, I think it’s gonna be a really big. We’re gonna find it for years later, the repercussions. What is that called a replication, the repercussions of it?
Because first off a lot of the times, especially when the lockdown was bad in most of the countries. The people weren’t even able to be in the hospital. They weren’t allowed to be at the hospital. Yeah. They weren’t allowed, like, even at that point, and then the morgues got full. So then what? So then everybody’s rushing around, trying to eliminate that issue. So that was a big dilemma. That’s when the semi trucks started driving in the back parking lot. And then so now what do we do now? We have mom or dad or whoever. And now we’re trying to figure out what we’re gonna do with them. And we’re trying to just do the bare minimum and wait, but will waiting ever happen? Will that ever occur?
See the thing. The way I look at things that is a little different than a lot of people out there that maybe aren’t in funeral service, is we are society we get this idea like it’s that one day that one day of memorialization. Well, memorialization should could happen on multiple days. You know, I mean, there’s people that I’m that I know, acquaintances where you can see, it’s like, this would have been mom’s birthday. And so instead of having it this terrible, horrible day, you know, I’ve seen friends where, okay, the, you know, the brothers and sisters got together socially distance in the backyard and acknowledged it. And we’re there for one another.
Well, that is so much more healthy than everyone at home isolated. You know, having such a tough time, they just continued to celebrate that person and acknowledge. I mean, that’s our society. A lot of people choose to as time goes by, and it’s partly because, fear, afraid, do I still talk about that person. People are afraid to bring that person’s name up where it should be. They weren’t a great day. They were important, important part of someone’s life. We shouldn’t live in fear. And if once in a while, we bring up that person’s name and they are upset. That’s okay. We need to live. We need to talk. It’s healthy. You know.
So memorializing and that’s the thing. So even if, so, for example, in a virtual event, right, it’s not perfect. We can’t have, wow, we’re still coming together. We’re still memorializing. We’re still sharing stories, you know, all those important things are still happening. And it can happen again, we can still get together again, in person, for example, if we’re allowed to have, you know, however many people together Yeah, outlay guide. You know, we can have another event. Better to have more than one than none at all, is the way I see it. And it doesn’t have to be formal. You know, it doesn’t, it doesn’t have to be traditional. It can be whatever is appropriate. Especially during this time. Exactly. I mean, I’m so I mean, I, whether it’s COVID or not, I think, you know, multiple days to memorialize someone is healthy. I mean, right now, we’ve got these challenges where, okay, that wasn’t totally perfect. And then we’re going to kind of, you know, however, there’s the whole COVID issue, but then COVID aside, memorializing someone over multiple, multiple days is still a wonderful thing to do. You know, let’s all you know. You know, for example, Mother’s Day, that can be such a beautiful day for some families. It’s such a hard day for other families. He’s right. And there are some people who, you know, I know, someone who I have huge respect for. And what they do is they find the balance. So they get up early, they get up early, they go to the cemetery, they do what they, you know, for their mom who is no longer with. And they take that time. And then after that, then the rest of the day, she’s a mom herself the rest of the day. Once she’s done that, and she feels like, I did that for my mom. And now I’m gonna let my kids spoil me and have a fun day and have laughs right, because it’s a complicated day.
I mean, as I call, I mean, birthdays Father’s Day, and there’s so many anniversaries and right, there’s lots of complicated days, but a joyous occasion, like Mother’s Day, or a joyous, joyous occasion like Christmas, to carve out that time to honor your grief to take that time. And then also to find to be present for people around you and find the joy in your life as well. And that’s what we talk about on our podcast all the time, is to have family to be present. Um, you know, even if it means to be virtual, some, some attending some virtual, at least you’re together, at least you’re communicating at least your your struggles, or their struggles, everybody’s in the same position. And you can share this bond, it’s the bonding time that that group of people need. And if you don’t have that, to some degree, you aren’t going to finish your grieving process, as well as keeping that legacy going of that family.
That’s super, super important. Because their next generation and their next generation isn’t gonna know who those other people are. So yeah, it’s it’s super important to start really, you know, getting this worksheet, filling it out having those family conversations with your partner, with your spouse, with your brother, sister, aunt, uncle, Mom, dad. Yeah, super, super important. Even if you don’t do the pre arrangements to figure out what it is that you want, what wishes you want, what is it? Do you want it to look like? What kind of party Do you want after? What kind of celebration Do you want after and thinking of yourself, but also those that are left behind? Super, super important? As you can see, we have a huge list of all the things that we could talk about today. And I’m gonna have to have you come on again, Laurie, because there’s so much more to talk about. It’s so awesome that we could delve into these topics and really dig deep and help people out to understand the importance, especially during this strange times that we’re dealing with, what kind of final note do you have for our listeners, that they can take away?
My message for everyone out there would be to live your best life. Absolutely. live it to the fullest. But also reflect on the fact that your days are numbered. And to talk to your family members about that. And so to backup plan, your backup plan, your pre arrangements, your will, because once you have that done, you’ll be like, yeah, it’s done. And then you can just carry on and live your best life. So that would be my advice for people out there. Absolutely.
Yeah, that’s beautiful. It sure hard to do. But once you start the process, it’s super, super easy. Absolutely. Absolutely.
Well, thank you, Laurie, thank you for coming on. I know I’ll have you come back because we have so much more topics to talk about. We only touched everything, everybody. We could probably do two or three hours of this. So thank you so much, Laurie, for taking the time. Thank you for for coming on and helping our listeners understand. Absolutely. Thanks, Tina. You’re welcome. And remember everybody, Laurie. Her two B’s is with the Aurora life.com website. Her information is down below in the description box. For all those people that have a question. It doesn’t matter if you’re not from the area or not.
Feel free to ask Lori anything that comes up or investigate what we’ve talked about today for yourselves and look at your area and start the process of what is it? Do I want I will share with you Tina as well.
So the company name is actually ANORALIFE.COM and it means honor.
oh WOW we came up with that. So honor so it works for everyone that we serve. And we honor the journey of life and death.
That’s a beautiful, beautiful name. Thank you. Yeah, awesome. So thank you everybody.
You know, guys, I talk about this all the time. We weren’t prepared for the pandemic. We’re not prepared for wildfires and five minute evacuation notices. We’re not prepared for that tragic car accident. We’re not prepared. I could, you know, of course the list could go on. We’re not prepared for an earthquake. And it’s time that we start having these taboo conversations with each other, those that we love, and talk about what options there are, what kinds of things you can choose. There’s so many cool things now that you can pick from, and you don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Thank you, Laurie, for coming to our show today. Thank you so very much.
Taking the Taboo out of Death, can be serious or descriptive. You just never know what you might come across. Because Why? Because it is a topic that everyone avoids, everyone pretends life is actually different than it really is. Why? Because we think we are invincible- we are superman – we don’t want to think about the WHAT IF?
“Taboo has a lot of hidden meanings. We’re going to leave that up to your imagination”. Jeff Gaulton
“TABOO, those things that must not be spoken or discussed . Says who?”, Tina Ginn
But, after our interview with Tom Morton this week, you will gain a new prospective on planning, and thinking about yourself and others you love in your life. Why not? Because we find it very difficult to talk about these scary topics that no one wants to elaborate on. We sweep it under the rug, so to speak and hope it will just go away. But ~ I’ll tell you it’s definitely not going away any time soon!
During Covid 19 has been quite a different story when it comes to death. The loss of a loved one, the loss of a friend, during Covid 19 – the Pandemic has changed how we look at death forever!
What has changed? The way we find space for the dead, in burials. As well as the way we want to stay by their side during the painful dying process, whether at home or in the hospital. We haven’t been able to be with the dying in the hospital during 2020-2021 which has changed so many things with families. Where will the dying be put after, sometimes that isn’t even a choice depending on the country that you are living in. In India as the photo above shows the real picture of death during Covid 19. Thank you to the Guardian for this visualization! We will never be able to unsee the photos of the dying during these years.
DYING STEPS THAT HAVE CHANGED
1- The way we are able to sit beside and comfort the dying one of the family
2- The choices we have for after death. Normally cremation, or burial. But depending on what country has the availability for burial. In some countries the country is burying in a big field side-by-side one another. Some bodies have been stored in shipping truck containers while staying refrigerated because of the lack of space in morgues.
3- Finding a spot for your loved one in a cemetery or scattering remains in a private space.
4- Arranging a Celebration of Life or a Funeral- now with this step – this has changed so much in 2020 and 2021. Will we ever arrange this funeral? So many have decided to wait until friends and family can attend. But the big question is will they actually still arrange to have this funeral or celebration of Life? That’s the problem. If we don’t grieve, if we don’t lay your family member down to rest with a ceremony this will eventually cause many other issues for those grieving in the future. The lack of closure the lack of grieving with this process will have lasting effects on our mental health. It will change the grief that we are experiencing to what others in the past have been able to process during this ritual.
We really need to start Taking the Taboo out of Death. So we can experience it, we can appreciate it, we can bless the moment, we can talk about it freely to make decisions. We can make plans, we can get organized to prepare for death before it’s too late.
That’s where Your Backup Plan App comes into play! We are able to make decisions, while we are alive and not sick or disabled or in a coma. We are able to make decisions about the What if? We are able to discuss the topics with our loved ones, so that they are also aware of the different things we want or even if we feel we need them. But if you don’t others will be making all of the decisions for you. And that may not be the most favorable choices in your mind. Perhaps all of these decisions that need to be made quickly will be in fact made for you by others. Is that what you would like? Maybe even a government employee or a friend or foe. Is that what you want?
In our Emerging Blueprint program that will be launched soon, we will be able to lead you by the hand with various worksheets, and webinars to make all of the choices, those decisions before it’s too late. To be able to make those decisions while you are healthy, and happy. You will find that you will make different decisions than if you are sick and dying. It’s very difficult to get any pertinent information out of a dying one, because they are sincerely not going to die. That’s where their head is at during that point.
So, guys let’s start looking at death differently, more open in discussing your wishes, your wants and your dreams with others. Let’s not wait for others to have to make those decisions for you.
Enjoy our Podcast Show on Taking the Taboo out of Death with Tom Morton, in beautiful Scotland!