Monday, 27 May 2013

Write up of Death Cafe Calgary, Canada by Wendy Kurchak

"Knowledge is not a filter for pain" - a lesson from Jo Rauch

May 12 - Mother's Day - an unexpected date for a Death Cafe, yet over 20 people gathered in our bright, sunny new venue at the Sage Center to share conversation and cake.
"A Special Gift for Mother's Day" by M.Posadowski

 The afternoon started with Calgarian Mary Posadowski reading her delightful new book, " A Special Gift for Mother's Day - A Story for Motherless CHildren of All Ages" . Then, during the remainder of the afternoon small group discussion topics ranged from Advance Care Directives, to after death communication. Again, participants indicated their pleasure in moving through different groups at the cafe, and many exchanged names and numbers for continuing contact with each other. There was a sharing of knowledge, experience and perspective about life and death matters.

However, what I would like to reflect upon is an event that occurred later in the evening of May12th.

Hours after the Death Cafe  my dear friend, Jo Rauch was in the park with her little dog Ruby. Jo was chatting and visiting with neighbours, as was her way, when her aorta ruptured - she died three days later.
Me and Jo (on the right)

As I've struggled through the shock, numbness and disbelief, moments of raw pain have overwhelmed my heart and entire being; no amount of knowledge, no certificate in thanatology, no anything can filter the reality of grief's all consuming angst.

 I would like to share a message I received that has brought me comfort, and even a glimpse of meaning into Jo's death:
"As thoroughly as we accept its inevitability, as familiar as it becomes, we think we are well prepared for death - and then find ourselves quite unprepared for the unexpectedness of its timing, or the unexpectedness of the manner it arrives, or the unexpectedness of whom it chooses. All our preparations may help us on the journey of grief but cannot prevent us from having to embark. It is evident from your brief words about her how bright a light Jo was in your world - I am so sorry for the darkness now, and also glad for the gift of her in your life, which I know will stay with you always, will be there for you when the night of grief ends. As you sail on the seas of Loss, may your winds be smooth and steady, however strong, no storms - may the knowledge you have assist the navigation, for a voyage of discoveries and confirmation, but not trauma. I wave to you, with deep sympathy." 

Thank you, Lisa.

Jo Rauch was quirky. She had an honest and straight shooting perspective about people and life. She called eveyone "fink" and "piece of work", including her special education students - we all adored her. At her memorial service, laughter erupted when Jo's brother-in-law shared that her corneas had been donated - oh, to be the lucky person seeing the world through Jo's eyes.

The  grief of a friend often becomes disenfranchised grief - loss which isn't recognized or supported by others. Sometimes the support we need in grief isn't available to us.

So, if you too are grieving a friend, I extend Lisa's message to you. I extend my hand of friendship to you. I invite you to share your story with us. 

Here is Jo's obit.

I hope you have a friend like Jo in your life - if so, tell them, today, how much you appreciate them.

Wendy Kurchak

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