I believe that part of living a full, open hearted life includes embracing death. It's going to happen. No matter what. We don't know how or when and that freaks us humans out! I've been close to death a couple of times- not recently though. I've also been priviledged to be with many people during their dying as part of my work in long term and palliative care. Growing up on a farm- death happened- frequently. Many many people I have met are very afraid of death and in many ways are in denial. "If I just don't talk about it or look at maybe it won't happen." This robs us of the opportunity to fully live our lives with open and full hearts. Making shrouds/journey blankets for sale is one way that I am encouraging people to embrace life and death.
When you buy a shroud you get to enjoy it as a fabulous blanket on your bed or couch. Put it up as a wall hanging. Make it into a cape...who knows? Use it, love it. Use these pieces of art as a way to start the conversation with your loved ones about dying. Your death, the death of a pet, of one of your people.. Death is an integral part of the circle of life however you choose to explain it.
I would encourage you to explore the possibility of natural burial. Your shroud is made of entirely renewable and natural biodegradeable materials that will decompose along with you. Your shroud can be left behind for others or it can also be used in your traditional burial, or cremation.
There is a fabulous new project in Seattle and hopefully moving throughout the world that composts human bodies in a respectful honouring way. (Urban Death project) Your journey blanket could be used to carry you to the top and hold you as you return to the earth.
Dear Margaret Atwood;
I’m a big fan and I’m sure you get a lot of letters gushing about your writing and how you’ve influenced their lives. I could write a letter like that but I’m not going to, you can imagine it for yourself. Instead this letter is a bit different. It’s about an offer for a shroud for you to be buried in. There I said it. I have heard you in a couple of interviews talking about how you want to be buried under a tree.
I can see that we have a major problem on our hands with the number of aging people who will be eventually dying and filling up our conventional cemeteries and creating significant greenhouse gases being cremated with natural gas. Natural burial needs to happen and I want to help encourage it- as I think do you.
I am an emerging fibre artist working in handmade felt. My plan is to make shrouds for natural burial. These shrouds will be made with only natural materials that will completely decompose, with sustainable materials like locally grown wool and small bits of recycled fabrics such as cotton, wool and silk. My intention is that individuals will buy one for themselves, well ahead of death, as a piece of art to enjoy and to facilitate discussing death with their loved ones and ultimately embracing death as a messy part of life.
This is my first shroud. I worked on it with a few friends as part of our fibre arts guild. It’s called The Tree. This piece of work was inspired by a heritage tree in Southern Alberta that is a very old cottonwood. The bark is craggy and rough and reminded me of a felt technique that can look like tree bark. The project took on a life of its own with different people adding in bits or joining in for a few hours to help us work on it.
The Tree is an image for me that embraces all the life that is intertwined with the life of the tree. The death of the tree will support more life, just differently. Everything dies and that’s a good thing. I’d like you to have it. As a gift. For you to be buried under a tree. Let me know.
By the way- Margaret said no thank you in a very polite way. Oh well. Anyone?
So What's With This Death Thing?
Death is Alchemy!
No matter what your belief
system, when we die our physical bodies are transformed and become something else. I want my body to decompose and become part of the carbon and soil cycle. I'm working toward a natural burial that can be a celebration of the circle of life. I will carry on in a different form,
maybe as a molecule in a bird
or a stem of a flower, maybe part of a beetle....part of the unknown.