“Love deeply and let go!”
Throughout centuries, Death has been honored with art, ritual and celebration. As vital as we are today, we will become ash, dust, compost for the next ones coming up. How can we look back at the ancient ways of letting go of loved ones, the artistry in wrapping the bodies in shrouds, with monuments to the heavens, memento mori and the gatherings in the parlor of friends and family with stories of laughter and joy, and move forward to the present of each day?
Our cultural paradigm in the past few decades has buried it’s celebrations of death and has been following a path of fear and repulsion. Death was once a welcome guest in homes, the dead comfortably taking up a room for a few days. Before the dead were sent to funeral homes, families and friends lovingly kept them in the front parlor, washing them, dressing them in their best, displaying them for all to see. Funerals were held at the local graveyard or on the land of the deceased. Children were part of the cycle, comfortable with the dying nearby, holding dead siblings for the photographer to get the family photo before laying the little one into the ground. Everyone had buried someone and shared in the loss by celebrating the life well-lived.
Gina Colombatto wants to bring normalcy back to death. Talking with groups of strangers at Death Cafes and in her studies of thanatology (thanatos = death), she has noticed that the more interaction we have with the subject of death and dying, the more conversations we can share of our personal experiences, the easier the process can be when one finds Death nearby.
She brings the invitation to design ways to hold death, in words, in movement, in containers enveloped in materials that make our hearts sing and our hands continue to make beauty. Offering the course The Fine Art of Living and Dying in a BOX!, brings community together to share thoughts around death, our own or of those we love in an up-close and personal way. Speaking directly to Death, we are reminded of the preciousness of life and that we are all in this together.
About the Class
Build and embellish your own cremation urn. Not quite ready? A simple pine box holds ashes of your favorite pet, a loved one long passed, or plan ahead and design your own. Paint, fabric, decoupage or photomontage personalize this holder of cremains for later (or use it as a cookie jar now!). We’ll spend the day talking about death/dying, of what to do with these precious bodies when they no longer serve us, and of paperwork needed in Maine for easy home funerals. Exploring age-old traditions and global customs we’ll travel the globe and be inspired to see the varied arts that celebrate death and dying.
Gina Colombatto is a Health Educator and Integrated Thanatology Counselor, which means she studies all things related to life and death and knows that gathering people to play together is good for the body, mind and spirit. Gina has envisioned and developed community art, worked with students of all ages, and continues to facilitate Death Cafes. Chuck Lakin is a Woodworker and Home Funeral Educator, whose interest in this topic came from his experience at his father’s death. Without the knowledge and information about the options he had, he felt he missed out. Now, his goal is to share information needed to make informed plans and decisions before death, for a meaningful and smooth transition.