Way To Go: Making Death a Part of Life

Way to Go is a once a month gathering of folks in which we talk about death, dying, and grief, educate ourselves about current and alternative approaches, and strive to make death truly a part of life in our community.

Way To Go started after Dale Presley from the Salish Sea Hospice Society came to Quadra in the summer of 2016 to give a talk about how disconnected our culture is from death. In the fall, Dale was invited back for a home presentation to speak further on the subject. All were enriched by the sharing, and a decision was made to continue home meetings once a month starting in Jan 2017. With a rotating chair, a format for the meetings evolved: a half hour for sharing, a half hour for learning, and a half hour to discuss community projects.

In the sharing portion of the meeting, folks are invited to talk about what is happening in their lives regarding death, dying, and grief. Although these subjects hugely impact our lives, we as a culture tend to shy away from talking about them. Specifically creating a space that welcomes our (often) difficult feelings, thoughts, and experiences around death helps us all to become more comfortable and compassionate with loss and mortality.

Because we don’t talk about death, many of us know very little about how to navigate it. During the education portion of the meeting, we have someone from the community share knowledge with the rest of us. The group created the Way To Go Guide which can be purchased for $5 at Inspirations. It is a collection of pages on the topics given at these monthly meetings.

Another intention of Way To Go is to educate and create more choices in our community. We have worked with the Quadra Island Cemetery Society and, although there is more work to be done, the south side of the cemetery now has a section for Natural Burial. In the spring of 2021, we started Community-Led Death Care, a group of volunteers available to guide and support families through a death event, particularly with the alternative choices that bring death home. The website, communityleddeathcare.ca has more information on this service. In 2021, we were honoured to support five families who chose alternative approaches meaningful to them, bringing death back into the stream of life.

In line with the Way To Go intention to educate our community, there will be articles placed from time to time in the Discovery Islander. It is our belief that talking about death, learning more about it, and navigating it with more knowledge, intent, and courage, is life-affirming.