Take me back oh hills I love,
Lift me from this lonely bed,
Light my way with stars above,
Curl soft winds about my head,
Wash my feet in crystal streams,
Cradle my arms in boughs of oak,
Breathe the scent of pine for dreams,
Wrap me tight in earthen cloak.
All things summon us to death;
Nature, almost envious of the good she has given us,
Tells us often and gives us notice that she cannot
For long allow us that scrap of matter she has lent…
She has need of it for other forms,
She claims it back for other works.
~ Jacques-Benigne Bossuet (1627-1704), “On Death, a Sermon”
Anyone who stays away from a death because of distress, because the physical aspects can be so very unpleasant, will turn out to have missed the one experience of a lifetime which can make known the true heights of love.
-Evelyn Francis Capel
I wanted to thank you for the profound gift you have given this community by choosing to have Alison's wake and receiving at your home! I have been to funerals which have been so awkward at funeral parlors.
The experience at your house with Alison upstairs in the bedroom was amazing. It was profoundly moving and real.
I have been to several home births and the evening at your house reminded me very much of those times. We were together to honor a passage from one realm to another-sadly back to a place we can only see in our dreams-but still so similar. My deepest love to you, as you take up your life again.
You may recall that my brother Nick and I attended the workshop in Charlottesville in early December. The timing could not have been more perfect as our father passed away on December 27. We were all able to be there with him, to kiss him and tell him that we loved him but that he could go. He did go peacefully. Although we were not able to incorporate all the elements of a home funeral due to considering our mother's wishes as well we did bring him home for visitation which was so important to everyone. Your workshop helped to prepare us in so many ways. Thank you for the work you do.
I don't think I have told you how grateful I am to you for opening your heart and home to those whose pain is so much less than yours. I feel as though you and Alison gently led us through the valley of the shadow of death and showed us that we should fear no evil. I have learned more from you in a week than a lifetime of schooling had taught. I have learned that there can be no life without death, that death is intensely painful for the living but that it is not itself evil. I have learned lessons about love and caring and hope.
I am also deeply grateful for your inclusion of the children particularly at your home. You taught a school full of children about death and life and love--lessons that in subtle ways will transform their lives. Alison will dwell in our hearts forever. We have all been changed by her life and by her death. Thank you for the love and lessons you have shared.
The following two letters were received from families we supported at the time of death.
" Thank you from the deepest part of my heart for all that you have done and for the support which made it possible to say good-bye in a sacred loving way, full of friends, family, laughter and joy, and many tears."
–Kristina J. , Kensington, MD
"Thank you so much for your involvement at the sad time of Ewan’s death. Your knowledge was so valuable that we had nothing to worry about or think of, other than spending some beautiful last moments with our son. This is exactly the way we wanted it and it is incredible how many people have commented about our choice and, of course, CROSSINGS."
-Caroline S., Winchester, VA