Death Salon Seattle (2017)

For our seventh Death Salon, we are partnering with the University of Washington School of Social Work and various artists and the robust alt-death community of Seattle. Sponsored in part by The Co-op Funeral Home of People’s Memorial and The Ernest Becker Foundation. Live illustrations of talks provided by Silent James.

See how the whole event unfolded online, including summaries of the talks, on our Storify.

View all the Silent James illustrations and photos from the event by Teresa Mathieson here.

The main ticket ($125) will cover the Saturday and Sunday daytime sessions, the rest of the events will have à la carte ticketing so that you can chose your own Death Salon experience, keeping in mind that many of the events have limited seating. Full pricing and ticket sale start date coming soon – to get access to ticket sales before the general public, sign up for our email list.

Here is an at-a-glance list of events and talks from September 8 to 10, 2017, more detailed information follows below the photo. For the full program as a PDF, go here.

Friday September 8, 2017

3-4:30pm: SOLD OUT A la carte option #1 ($25): Atlas Obscura walking tour of Lake View Cemetery

7:30pm: A la carte option #2 ($10): Grief Dialogues theater performance

Saturday September 9, 2017

9am-4pm (doors at 8am): Death Salon Seattle Day 1 with programming including:

9:30am Sarah Chavez – Death and the Maiden: Why Women Are Working With Death and the Future of the Death Positive Movement

10am Chanel Reynolds – Getting the GYST of End-of-Life Planning

11am Death with Dignity Panel moderated by Sally McLaughlin with Peg Sandeen and Nancy Niedzielski

1:30pm Taryn Lindhorst – Death is Coming: Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Death

2pm Angela Hennessy – In the Wake

3pm Death Writers Panel moderated by Megan Rosenbloom with Carol Cassella, Christine Colby, and Bess Lovejoy

3:30pm Caitlin Doughty – Post-Mortem Pet Possibilities

8pm: A la carte option #3 ($50): Joint Fundraiser Cocktail Party for The Order of the Good Death and Pet Partners including 1 free beer or wine, snacks, therapy dogs to pet, an introduction to aquamation by Resting Waters, and the featured lecture by Paul Koudounaris – The Unbreakable Bond: Animal Memorials. Special opportunity to have Order artist Landis Blair draw a Gorey-esque memorial portrait of your pet (for an added $35 fee, proceeds go to the Order, details will be sent to fundraiser ticket holders). Taxidermy display by Precious Creature. Limited tickets available.

Sunday September 10, 2017

9am-4pm (doors at 8am): Death Salon Seattle Day 2 with programming including:

9:30am Megan Devine – It’s OK that You’re not OK: Death Positivity in the Face of Grief

10am Decolonizing Death – Matt Ignacio in conversation with Sarah Chavez

11am Using Theatre To Start The Conversation about Death and Dying – Peggie Dickens in conversation with Elizabeth Coplan

11:30am Brian Flowers – Green Burial: The Intersection of Ecology & Ritual

1:30pm Tanya Marsh – Regulated to Death: Re-Imagining the Funeral Services Market

2pm Alternative Deathcare – Jeff Jorgenson in conversation with Nora Menkin

3pm Death Cafe, a short film by Phoebe Holman

3:15pm Recomposing with Katrina and Caitlin – Katrina Spade in conversation with Caitlin Doughty

Below is the full roster for Death Salon Seattle, lineup is subject to change.

DEATH SALON SEATTLE

FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 8, 2017

DS AO cemetery

Photo by Jared Steed

3pm-4:30pm: SOLD OUT A la carte option #1 ($25): Atlas Obscura walking tour of Lake View Cemetery

Beneath the ground of Lake View Cemetery lies some of Seattle’s richest history. As Seattle’s most famous cemetery, many prominent Seattle pioneers lie within its grounds, including the Dennys, Maynards, Mercers, Yeslers, and Chief Seattle’s daughter, Princess Angeline. Join Jared Steed and the Seattle Obscura Society as we walk the cemetery learning about their stories and discussing their involvement in the founding and establishment of Seattle.

In addition to Seattle’s pioneer history, we learn the sordid history of Seattle’s Madam Damnable and what became of her body, honor Japanese American veterans with a visit to the Nisei War Memorial Monument, and puzzle over the cenotaph commemorating Captain Jefferson Davis Howell, brother-in-law of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Our tour will end at the graves of Lake View Cemetery’s most famous residents: Bruce and Brandon Lee, as we discover what became of the funeral home which prepared Bruce Lee’s body for burial.

Adventure Notes

Meet in front of the main cemetery gate at 1554 15th Ave. E., Seattle, WA 98112. The tour is entirely outside and will run rain or shine. We will be walking approximately one mile so please wear comfortable walking and water resistant shoes. Tour is family friendly but parents must keep an eye on their children in order to ensure proper gravesite maintenance. All persons age 15 years old and younger must be accompanied by an adult to participate in the tour. Tour is ADA accessible on the walking and car paths, but as this tour is mostly a walking tour we will also be walking off paths and into the grass to view graves and monuments. Parking is available outside the cemetery on 15th Avenue, but participants are encouraged to arrive by public transportation. No public restrooms are available inside the cemetery.

Advance ticket sales only. All sales are final. This tour is open to Death Salon Seattle attendees ONLY and tickets are limited.

elizabeth coplan

7:30pm: A la carte option #2 ($10): Grief Dialogues theater performance

Grief Dialogues, an artistic movement to start a new conversation about death and dying, presents six short plays about death written by playwrights from around the United States. The show is a 90-minute live theatre production immediately followed by a moderated audience discussion by psychologist Peggie Dickens.

Grief Dialogues is a transformative theatrical piece that deepens and expands our understanding of dying, death and grief as seen through the eyes of the characters. Inspired by real stories, Grief Dialogues confronts the stigma that surrounds death and asks us to explore situations, relationships, emotions and logistics that contextualizes death. The plays are at times funny, heartbreaking, thought-provoking and honest. Limited tickets available at a deeply discounted rate to Death Salon Seattle attendees.

SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 9, 2017

deathandthemaiden

Death and the Maiden logo by Lozzy Bones Art

Doors open at 8am, registration and coffee provided. Day programming begins at 9am and ends at 4pm.

9:30am Sarah Chavez – Death and the Maiden: Why Women Are Working With Death and the Future of the Death Positive Movement

For many self-identified women, working with death is an act of resistance. It is a way of reclaiming our space, our bodies, our lives, and our identities. Sarah will discuss death work as feminist act, and why it is imperative that the movement is intersectional, as well as how we can deepen our understanding of the movement’s interconnection with social structures.

10am Chanel Reynolds – Getting the GYST of End-of-Life Planning

Chanel Reynolds shares her personal story of losing her husband to an accident and after a week in the ICU removed medical support and became a widowed single mother with two young kids. Her experience prompted her to found Get Your Shit Together (now called GYST.com); her website has been covered globally by the press and visited by over 2 million people. Her talk focuses on the importance of end of life documents and her advice on how to get them right for the dying and those left behind. She’ll cover ‘what to do when you don’t know what to do’, for example, when decisions aren’t ‘black and white’ and the 3 key documents everyone needs to help make death less about paperwork so we can all focus on the people.

10:30am BREAK

11am Death with Dignity Panel moderated by Sally McLaughlin with Peg Sandeen and Nancy Niedzielski

In a conversation led by End of Life Washington Executive Director Sally McLaughlin, we get an update on the state of death with dignity laws and practice in Washington state and beyond, with Death with Dignity Executive Director Peg Sandeen and activist Nancy Niedzielski who helped get the Death with Dignity law passed in Washington and was featured in the documentary How to Die in Oregon.

12pm LUNCH School of Social Work Gallery, University of Washington 4101 15th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105 in pre-assigned groups (you will get your group at registration), box lunch included.

1:30pm Taryn Lindhorst – Death is Coming: Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Death

University of Washington palliative social work professor Dr. Taryn Lindhorst was 22-years-old when she cared for her first friend to die of AIDS.  Over the next 30 years, through both a professional career in hospice and medical social work, and a personal history as a primary caregiver to friends and family, Taryn has come to appreciate the natural processes surrounding death.  In this talk, Taryn will share a framework for understanding the physical, psychological and spiritual changes that take place in the months, weeks, days and hours before death.

2pm Angela Hennessy – In the Wake 

This presentation reflects upon contemporary artists who are making work that addresses the intersection of race and death. From the post-mortem body to the mourning body, these artists draw from personal and cultural narratives of loss specific to the history of black people. In sacred, public, and domestic realms they reinvent memorial objects, funeral performances, and grief rituals that question assumptions about Death and the Dead themselves.

2:30pm BREAK

3pm Death Writers Panel moderated by Megan Rosenbloom with Carol Cassella, Christine Colby, and Bess Lovejoy

In a conversation led by Death Salon Director Megan Rosenbloom, we get an inside look into the process of writing about death in all different genres from bestselling novelist Carol Cassella (Gemini, Healer, Oxygen) Christine Colby (CrimeFeed), and Bess Lovejoy (Rest in Pieces).

3:30pm Caitlin Doughty – Post-Mortem Pet Possibilities

Society tends to see the death of a pet as a “lesser” loss.  A pet is a thing you own, not a relationship you have.  Pet owners are made to downplay their grief, and quickly dispose of the animal’s body.  How can we introduce healthy mourning and funeral practices for our pets and what are the laws surrounding pet disposal?

8pm: A la carte option #3 ($50): Paws for Reflection: Joint Fundraiser Cocktail Party

pet grave

Photo by Paul Koudounaris

Paws for Reflection Joint Fundraiser Cocktail Party for The Order of the Good Death and Pet Partners including:

+ snacks and 1 free beer or wine

+ therapy dogs to pet

+ taxidermy display by Precious Creature

+ an introduction to pet aquamation by Resting Waters

+ a featured lecture by Paul Koudounaris – The Unbreakable Bond: Animal Memorials For many people, the death of a beloved pet is one of the hardest losses they will face. Over the past several years, Dr. Paul Koudounaris has immersed himself in the study of animal mortality and the way we memorialize and remember pets. His talk will focus on the history of pet cemeteries, monuments to famous and heroic animals, and theories about animals and the afterlife. What emerges is that, despite the sadness of loss, the bond of love between human and animal is enduring.

+ a special opportunity to have Order artist Landis Blair draw a Gorey-esque memorial portrait of your pet (for an added $35 fee, proceeds go to the Order, details will be sent to fundraiser ticket holders).

Limited tickets available.

SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 8, 2017

udp

Urban Death Project rendering

Doors open at 8am, coffee provided. Day programming begins at 9am and ends at 4pm.

9:30am Megan Devine – It’s OK that You’re not OK: Death Positivity in the Face of Grief

Does being death positive only apply to natural, expected, end of the western lifespan death? What about deaths we think of as wrong, or outside the natural order of things – baby loss, deaths in childhood, accidents, violent crimes, suicides, natural disasters, man-made disasters? There’s a weird, clanging disconnect when we speak of death positivity in the face of these losses. Talking about these kinds of deaths – and the grief that comes with them – is one of the last real taboos. Join Megan for a discussion of what it takes to bear witness to grief, to allow for the “wrong-ness” of certain deaths, all while holding true to our death positive beliefs. She’ll be sharing excerpts from her new book, It’s Ok That You’re Not Ok: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture that Doesn’t Understand.

10am Decolonizing Death – Matt Ignacio in conversation with Sarah Chavez

Matt Ignacio, in conversation with Order of the Good Death Executive Director Sarah Chavez, will discuss erasure of Native American death customs and how we can decolonize death rituals. In particular, he will focus on the needs of the trans and two-spirit communities to protect their identities in death, and how to build trusting and meaningful relationships between researchers and Native communities.

10:30am BREAK

11am Using Theatre To Start The Conversation about Death and Dying – Peggie Dickens in conversation with Elizabeth Coplan

After performances of her play, Hospice: A Love Story, Elizabeth Coplan saw a trend towards death positive conversation among the audience. It became clear that the media of theater, film, and other forms of art could help break down the culture of silence around death. In this session, playwright Elizabeth Coplan teams up with psychologist Peggie Dickens to demonstrate how theater and film can be used to help people work through grief and open death positive conversation.

11:30am Brian Flowers – Green Burial: The Intersection of Ecology & Ritual

Much of humanity has become divorced from the natural world while living in living in a radically de-ritualized culture. Brian will explore how green burial creates a vehicle for reestablishing our place in nature while creating new, relevant rituals to make meaning from life’s most difficult moments.

12pm LUNCH School of Social Work Gallery, University of Washington 4101 15th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105 attendees will have the option to join facilitated classroom style group discussions on death positive topics, box lunch included.

1:30pm Tanya Marsh – Regulated to Death: Re-Imagining the Funeral Services Market

The death care revolution has shaken the funeral industry – cremation rates have skyrocketed, consumers are more interested in green options, and families and decedents are losing interest in the “traditional” package of services including embalming, open casket visitation at the funeral home, and ground burial in a casket and vault.  The funeral industry is struggling to respond to dramatically changing consumer preferences but is frustrated both by strongly entrenched norms within the industry of the “right way” to do things, and a protectionist occupational licensing regime that is preventing the industry from embracing meaningful change. Learn about the problems facing the funeral industry and funeral consumers and what we can do about it.

2pm Alternative Deathcare – Jeff Jorgenson in conversation with Nora Menkin

In a conversation led by Nora Menkin from The Co-op Funeral Home of People’s Memorial, Jeff Jorgenson of Elemental Cremation & Burial gets real about the struggles and successes of running Seattle’s only green funeral home.

2:30pm BREAK

3pm Death Cafe, a short film by Phoebe Holman

Death Cafés are public gatherings where people meet for tea to discuss their thoughts and fears surrounding death. Beginning in 2010 in England, today there are more than 4,000 Death Cafés worldwide. This film focuses on a specific Death Cafe in one of the most progressive cities in the UK, Bristol. This film will introduce you to the stories behind some intriguing Death Café attendees from Bristol, what drew them to attend a Death Café, and what they get out of the experience.

3:15pm Recomposing with Katrina and Caitlin – Katrina Spade in conversation with Caitlin Doughty

In a conversation led by Order of the Good Death founder, mortician, and bestselling author Caitlin Doughty, The Urban Death Project’s Katrina Spade will chat about human decomposition, dirt, and the exciting new process she’s developing called Recomposition.

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