If I should die before I wake... I hope you will call Dearly DeParty to help with the arrangements! By Sue Styles You may not be familiar with the term 'death literacy', but it is at the core of purpose for new company Dearly DeParty. A fun play on the solemn phrase ‘Dearly Departed’, founders Janine Violini and Jamie Whittaker found there was a big hole in a (excuse the pun) life and death situation! A shift has happened over the last 100 years and it has not been good for our psychology around death. Society as a whole, they say, is just not having conversations around death. They also find that even when dialogue is opened up people’s responses often include “O don’t want to talk about that” and they say we have become distanced from death - which has a major impact on our decisions and reactions to life! We have opportunities to grieve loss quite often says Jamie; “losing a friend to a new marriage, a teacher upon graduation, fellow employees when a lay-off is announced are all forms of death that we could be handling a lot better!”, she believes. It all started when they got the idea that funerals could be more meaningful if we put a little more thought into what would benefit our loved ones and if we could be prepared – not just in the financial way - but in the relationship and emotional way. Janine had just begun thinking along these lines when good friend and long-time neighbor Jo passed away. A single lady in her sixties, Jo had made an impact in her neighborhood, with the children that she had grown to know and even with pets whose names she remembered. When her time came, her family went through the traditional funeral but it left her acquaintances in the dark and missing the popular school teacher who used to walk up the street on Saturday mornings in her pj's drinking coffee and just enjoying a day off. Janine reached out to the neighbors and arranged a remembrance that included a front yard PJ party! The people in the neighborhood loved it and grew even closer as a community. Along with some special touches they all took home little bags of poppy seeds in remembrance of her lovely garden and even two years later, their gardens show the evidence of a life well remembered.
a seminar, or a workshop, to consider what makes up our personality, what will be the things that friends and family cherish when we are gone, and what is truly important to us - the most wonderful outcomes happen!” There are so many great ideas that can prepare a meaningful funeral - but even more so, a meaningful existence. One of the outcomes Janine and Jamie have experienced with their clients has been in talking about death and what is important to them for their loved ones - it ironically affects the lives they live NOW. Once participants attend a seminar or even do private consulting with Dearly DeParty they gain insight into their lives right now. Are they living the life they want? What would need to change to result in a life well spent for them? These are the big questions of life and tap into one’s core values. Through their in-depth research Janine and Jamie have found that there are resources available like local Death Café’s where anyone can just go and talk about death; there are death midwives available too - bet you never heard of that before! Rather than leaving loved ones impaired by grief, there is an alternative. It begins with being open to having conversations around the subject of death; a cognitive shift can uncover surprises and rewards! “Very often we are making decisions based on conversations that we are just not having” Janine explains, “- they are just thoughts in our head that go around and around.” To gain some information and education that recognizes the symbolic deaths we experience in our everyday lives is a good start, and then to be open to thinking what would be important when we leave and even plan our funeral now can be a freeing and insightful activity. One of the workshops they offer is called Get Your Crows In A Row - and that is exactly it. Death Literacy isn’t a new thing, it has been around since the beginning of time, but in our evolution of becoming more material focused than relationship focused we may have lost some necessary skills. Dearly DeParty not only challenges us to think about how authentically we are living our life, but also what we can do now that will make it easier for others later. After all, there are only two things in life that are certain Sue Styles International Speaker & Business Coach for Entrepreneurs www.suestyles.com
“It's the little things that family and people cherish”, says Janine, “and when we take a conscious moment, an evening,
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