Remembering Well: Rituals for Celebrating Life and Mourning Death


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Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak
Whispers the o'erfraught heart and bids it break.
Macbeth, Act IV, Scene 3
William Shakespeare At times of death and grief, the task of planning a funeral or memorial service often falls to survivors who are unprepared to think about such an event-especially if they are alienated from formal religious traditions or from their families. Nevertheless, those who mourn need to give voice to their sorrow. The grief that does not “speak” in some way-through crying, talking, rituals, tributes, or creative expression-remains unresolved. For centuries, religious traditions have provided society with rituals for expressing such feelings and finding peace. But for many people today, those rituals have become empty, awkward, or irrelevant. Remembering Well offers family members, clergy, funeral professionals, and hospice workers ways to plan services and rituals that honor the spirit of the deceased and are faithful to that person's values and beliefs, while also respecting the needs and wishes of those who will attend the services. It is an essential resource for anyone who yearns to put death in a spiritual context but is unsure how to do so-including both those who have broken with tradition and those who wish to give new meaning to the time-honored rituals of their faith.
The real-life stories, examples, and practical guidelines in this book address a wide array of important issues, including the difficult decisions that survivors must make quickly when a death occurs-and the sensitive topic of family alienation, where possibilities for healing, forgiveness, and hope are explored. The invaluable insights offered here will help those who grieve to prepare mind and spirit for life's final rites of passage.
An essential resource for all who yearn to put death in a spiritual context but are unsure how to do so “All persons touched by the death of loved ones, and the friends and professionals summoned to shelter and encourage them, will benefit greatly from this comprehensive and compassionate, gifted and grace-filled book.”
–Bill Wallace, rector, Emmanuel Church in the City of Boston, and founder of the nation's first acute inpatient AIDS hospice, The Hospice at Mission Hill “Sarah York knows the terrain of the human heart. Her capacity to assess cultural hungers and her imaginative development of meaningful rituals that combine ancient forms with new sensibilities is outstanding. Remembering Well is a gem to treasure and use.”
–Sharon Daloz Parks, coauthor, Common Fire: Leading Lives of Commitment in a Complex World “A unique and remarkable gift for those who suffer a devastating loss and don't know where to turn or what to do. Make sure you have it on your shelves for a very, very rainy day.”
–Forrest Church, author, Lifecraft: The Art of Meaning in the Everyday “In this beautifully written book, Sarah York teaches us how to be courageous in the face of death. I would trust her with my grief.”
–Sylvia Ann Hewlett, economist and writer, fellow, Center for the Study of Values in Public Life, Harvard Divinity School “Sarah York's book offers the compassionate guidance we need when grieving to heal our hearts. I can't recommend this book highly enough.”
–Jennifer Louden, author, The Women's Comfort Book and The Comfort Queen's Guide to Life

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