An archive of past events in reverse chronological order

Spring Social & Brainstorm

April 2023

Our April 1st Meet & Greet was a great success! On a truly Spring-like Saturday we met, mingled, and discussed many ideas about how best to focus energies as we work toward restoring death as a sacred part of life.

It was great to see familiar faces and new ones of those interested in supporting a grassroots movement that advocates for family-led, environmentally sustainable, meaningful end-of-life care. Whether a long-time member or newly curious, Community Deathcare Ottawa was delighted to be with you!

Community Vigil for the Rideau Canal Skateway

March 2023

Hosted by Heart Land and in partnership with Ecology Ottawa, this vigil at Patterson Creek offered up time and space to:

  • Pause and acknowledge what is happening due to climate change
  • Honour feelings related to this loss within the support of community
  • Be with our uncertainty, not knowing what will happen in the years to come
  • Question and imagine what is ours to do
  • Nourish resilience and our ability to enact positive change

Riverside Grief Gathering

October 2022

Nestled in the trees of Strathcona Park on a beautiful autumn day, we acknowledged and honoured different forms grief through gently guided ritual, meditation, and movement.

Witnessed by each other, Mother Nature, and other beings of this place, we offered up our sorrows and asked the river to support us in lightening our load.

Great gratitude to all who gathered in this space for grief.

Home Vigil & Body Care Workshop

September 2022 (Montreal)

As part of the work Le travail que l’on rêve gratuit, presented in the exhibition The Radical Imaginary: Reclaiming Value, Debbie Charbonneau and Kelly Butler led a workshop on death care and home funerals which aimed to share knowledge and alternative practices to the conventional funeral industry.

Photos by Prune Paycha

Remembering: A Guided Journey

October 2021

As part of Community Deathcare Canada’s 3rd Annual Swan Song Festival, Carole L. Trepanier of “The Death of Me” facilitated a journey and spoke to the role of ritual and spirit work in community deathcare. As an animist ritualist, Carole specializes in spiritual healing, endings and awakenings—forms of Death. She led participants through a gentle remembering of the “micro-deaths” of their own lives which supported profound unburdening.

Mother’s Day Space for Grief

May 2021

Members of Community Deathcare Ottawa held space for an unscripted evening of conversation at a time of year filled with grief and sorrow for many. Participants expressed the relief of sharing stories around such a loaded holiday.

Valentine’s Vigil: Grief as an Expression of Love

February 2021

Community Deathcare Ottawa welcomed ceremonialist Carrie Fawcett to lead a ceremony in honour of a different face of Love. We gathered to acknowledge, share and deepen our understanding of grief as an extension of our love, a continued relationship after loss. Through music, poetry, creativity, and silence, we honoured our individual and collective heartache.

Honouring Our Grief

October 2020

An outdoor ceremony shifted online as Covid-19 continued to rock our worlds, and members of the community were welcomed into a circle of love and support. Live music and spoken word served as a balm on our hearts in this virtual gathering of remembrance and healing.

Movie & Discussion: Griefwalker

March 2020

This documentary introduced us to Stephen Jenkinson, once the leader of a palliative care counselling team at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital. Through his daytime job, he has been at the deathbed of well over 1,000 people. What he sees over and over, he says, is “a wretched anxiety and an existential terror” even when there is no pain. Indicting the practice of palliative care itself, he has made it his life’s mission to change the way we die – to turn the act of dying from denial and resistance into an essential part of life.

Movie & Discussion: In the Parlor – The Final Goodbye

February 2020

Rejecting the mainstream tradition of hiring funeral professionals to care for the deceased, families in search of a more personal and fulfilling way to say goodbye are taking an active role in caring for relatives who have died. Both a critical look at the American relationship with death and an inquiry into the home death care movement, In The Parlor: The Final Goodbye takes viewers on a journey where very few have gone, and challenges us to reflect on this uncomfortable subject, which so often is hidden away and ignored.

2019 Community Deathcare Expo

The time we came together with an interactive showcase of what is possible when death is honoured as a sacred part of life. There was a home vigil demo, death café, grief couch, casket painting, demo of Jewish burial practices, remembrance altar, mandala grieving ritual, grief phone, practitioner booths, and more!

“We’re all going to die.”

That was the provocative tagline on a certificate of membership being handed out at Ottawa’s first annual Community Deathcare Expo, held on October 19 at the Churchill Seniors Centre…

Image courtesy of Nicola Finch of Cariboo Community Deathcare
Postcards available for purchase here

Tahara: Jewish Funeral Practices

Anna Maranta and Judith Wouk educated people on the ritual practice of Tahara, the preparation of a body for burial in the Jewish tradition…

The Grief Phone

“Do you still have conversations with them in your mind? Is there one thing you wish you’d said before they died? What is the exciting news or secret worry you really want to share? Perhaps anger needs to be voiced. Or forgiveness. Or simply a name.”

Inspired by Itaru Sasa of Otsuchi, Japan, Space for Death erected an enclosure designed to give a voice to grief, to place a call to the great beyond.

Mock Home Vigil

The death of a loved one often turns our world upside down. Our hearts and minds sometimes need time to adjust to this new reality. We can support that process by spending more time with the deceased. What would be right for your family? A few extra hours together? A vigil at home? Perhaps even a home funeral?

Within a cozy home setting accompanied by beautiful music, Reclaiming Death demonstrated these legal and safe options that help us move forward in our grief. 

Here the family helps transfer ‘the body’. In those early hours, our hearts and minds struggle to absorb this new reality of loss. Having something to do is often a comfort to the bereaved. This is why family-led care can be extremely healing.” ~ Kelly Butler

We are all just walking each other home.

Ram Dass / Richard Alpert