As October draws to a close, the veil between this world and the next becomes thinner and thinner. For some, this is something to fear. For others — like the folks at Abundance NC — it’s something to celebrate.
Abundance NC — a local organization that focuses on wellness and sustainability — is hosting the 4th annual Death Faire on Nov. 2 in Pittsboro, an event dedicated to exploring death, loss and remembrance.
According to a press release about the event, the Death Faire will provide a supportive and festive atmosphere with a goal of moving beyond a death-phobic culture.
Featuring art, music, dance, poetry, storytelling and interactive exhibits, the Faire aims to create a community centered on the celebration of life, while also honoring the lives of those that have been lost.
Tami Schwerin, the executive director of Abundance NC, said one of the most important aspects of the Death Faire is how it normalizes conversations around death and loss.
“It touches people so deeply,” Schwerin said. “It normalizes things, and people don’t feel like they’re all alone.”
Schwerin also said that there will be a vast array of activities at the Faire, including an opportunity for children to pre-record their own eulogies and dance to their words while it plays on a speaker.
While Schwerin said that some might consider this a bit odd, it allows kids to engage in a unique opportunity to line up their life and embrace it, which she said she thinks is an important lesson for adults.
“That’s probably the biggest message,” Schwerin said. “If you can embrace death, then you’re definitely going to live your life in a more present, joyful way.”
Another important aspect of the Death Faire is the focus on legacies and honoring life. Neidra L. Clark, a speaker at the Faire, is an end of life doula and will be providing a “DED Talk” about crafting a legacy project.
A doula is a non-medical companion who is trained to provide emotional support and guidance to a person giving birth.
Clark said her work as an end of life doula is similar to that of a birth doula because birth and death are the two major transitions each person experiences. She offers non-medical holistic support during the dying process, providing emotional care for the dying and their families through legacy creation.
“Creating a legacy expresses their life’s meaning — it shifts focus to the life that was lived, and that can inspire or inform future family or friends,” Clark said. “I think (legacy projects) can improve emotional connections and maintain hope because there’s purpose.”
Clark also said personal history was important when discussing death and legacies.
Legacy projects allow for the exploration of one’s life, which can provide a sense of comfort for both the dying person and their loved ones because it can be a way of seeing a person’s life impact the lives of others even after they have passed.
The Death Faire, with all of its activities and opportunities for reflection, aims to remove the taboo that still surrounds discussing death. It offers opportunities to connect with others through stories, hopes, memories and dreams. Schwerin said it’s a good thing our culture is seeking to develop a healthier and more accepting attitude when it comes to conversations around loss.
“It’s super meaningful, it’s super deep and loving,” Schwerin said. “And I don’t think anyone can walk away from that without being changed.”
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