Life, Death & Cake
Preparing for a Good Death
(Bellows Falls VT) Death denial in the United States is commonplace. Even the language that is used, such as ‘passed on’ or ‘slipped away,’ indicates how the subject of dying is avoided. And this is understandable, as thinking about death can be terrifying for all kinds of reasons. Fear about dying in pain from a lingering illness, a lack of certainty about what happens to our physical presence, or how loved ones left behind will cope when we die makes it easier to simply avoid the conversation.
Allowing a fear of death to dictate this behavior is actually irresponsible and harmful to ourselves, our families and friends. Being able to discuss death wishes with elderly loved ones is especially important. Kasey March, an end of life doula, and Susan MacNeil, author of 18 Minutes: A Daughter’s Primer on Life & Death, will offer a chance to talk about preparing for a good death through the lens of their own unique experiences. March is a trained International End of Life Doula (INELDA) and MacNeil experienced her mother’s death in early 2022, having been required to attend When Mom Dies School despite the fact that she was a reluctant student.
Sharing their insight, the two-hour session will provide a framework for others to join in the conversation about all aspects of death. Unlike a Death Café, which is intended solely as a discussion group, their program provides a deeper dive into specifics around end of life challenges and issues. The event is not intended to be a support group, although the conversation will be conducted in a compassionate environment.
Two events are planned for February: Wednesday, February 1 from 3-5pm at the Rockingham Free Public Library (802-463-4270), 65 Westminster Street in Bellows Falls, Vermont and Wednesday, February 15 from 2-4pm at the Springfield Town Library (802-885-3108), 43 Main Street in Springfield, Vermont. March will provide resources as requested by attendees and MacNeil will hold a book-signing. Village Square Booksellers will be on site to manage book purchase. Coffee, tea and cake will be available. Adults 18+ are welcome, RSVP is not required and there is no charge to attend. Building accessibility is available. For more information, find March and MacNeil on Facebook or through their websites: (www.DoulaCareforDying.com ) and ( www.authentic-voice-narration.com )
Kasey March is an International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA) trained doula who provides open-hearted presence to the dying and their loved ones. After witnessing the deaths of several loved ones she was inspired to help others to live their dying in the best way possible. Kasey believes that everyone deserves a good death and strives to work with clients to determine what that looks like for them and how to best accomplish that goal with the time and resources at their disposal. Kasey also serves as a hospice volunteer and has pursued additional training in supporting those with dementia and Vermont laws for those at the end of life who wish to consider medical aid in dying.
Susan MacNeil is a writer, voiceover artist and longtime resident of southern NH and VT. As Executive Director of AIDS Services for the Monadnock Region for 15 years, she faced the deaths of clients and became familiar with the importance of designating last wishes. But when her mother died at age 90, she found she still was not ready to accept the task of grieving while serving as executor of her mother’s estate. Her book, 18 Minutes: A Daughter’s Primer on Life & Death, is the story of how she navigated this singular experience by following the roadmap her mother provided.