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Information from MSBC

Welcome to our blog where we post interesting and helpful information about death and dying.

2022 Annual General Meeting Notice

October 4, 2022
The Board and Staff of the Memorial Society of BC hope that you and your loved ones are well and safe. This year we will be holding our 66th Annual General Meeting

Saturday, November 5th, 2022 1:00 – 2:30 pm Sanctuary, Unitarian Church of Vancouver 949 West 49 th Ave, Vancouver

With guest speaker Karen Hendrickson, Co-Founder of the Death Doula Network of BC Members will have the option to attend in person or online through zoom. A Special Resolution will be introduced at the AGM Click here to review the Resolution Please note that only members who participate in person (i.e. considered to be present) will be able to cast a vote regarding the Special Resolution. For this current year, members attending online through zoom are not deemed to be present. Please Register by Friday, October 28th If you wish to attend the AGM, email assistant@memorialsocietybc.org with the subject line “AGM Registration” and indicate whether you wish to attend in person or through zoom. Once your membership is confirmed, we will email you a meeting information package prior to November 5 th. We hope you will join us!
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Where art and death meet – selecting an urn

December 13, 2020

This past week we’ve had a couple of conversations with members about where to keep the ashes of loved ones if they are not being scattered or kept in a columbarium or cremation niche. Many British Columbians choose basic no-frills cremation and the basic black plastic urn that comes along with it. But some families want a more personal and attractive option than the urns and keepsakes usually on offer from funeral providers, whether it’s for long term or just for display at a celebration of life (when we can do those again). We know of one family who placed the basic urn inside a small, hand-carved, cherry wood case that held a special place in the family’s history. They knew their patriarch would be delighted.

The truth is, you can be as creative as you like with an urn. If you are an art lover, you could introduce something beautiful into your home as a memorial. There are artists who have a special interest in memorial art, for example ceramicist Julian Stair. He’s a British artist who creates bespoke cinerary jars for human ashes, the prices of which reflect his profile as an artist.

How about artists closer to home? Is there one you admire who might take on a commissioned piece? What a lovely way to pay tribute to your dear one as well as supporting our local arts community!

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Planning a Home Death – Five Simple Questions

June 11, 2019

With 916,000 baby boomers currently living in British Columbia coupled with most of us wanting to die in the comfortable and familiar surroundings of our own homes we have some planning to do!

Now lets be clear dying at home is not for each and every one of us even though that may be our wish. My dear brother Peter had his home in Creston, BC all set up for his home death he and his wife April had planned for him. As his health deteriorated and his care became even more complex the Butterfly Room at the Creston General Hospital became his new home. Though home death is not for everyone it is a viable solution for many more folks than we would imagine.

So what are some of the important things we need to discuss? Here are five questions that can lead your conversations;

How do we care for the primary care giver?

Oftentimes in home care situations the primary caregiver fall prey to illness directly as a result of carrying the burden of the care responsibilities. Can we create a family schedule that ensures the care load is shared and no family member burns out?

What does the one dying need and want?

A conversation with the family member dying regarding their wants and needs is important in order for the family to set up an appropriate care plan.

What outside support will we need?

Check with your local community services society for such services as volunteer drivers, home support, and home nursing care. There are in fact more resources in your community than you may first imagine.

Is our home ready and safe for all of us?

There are professional organizations that will do a safety check of your family home to make certain it is safe for everyone. Stairways, doorways, carpets, kitchen and bathrooms may all need some form of renovation to make the space safe for both the individual ageing and dying and those that provide hands on care. Stairwell chair systems and walk-in bathtubs are two examples.

Do we have our end of life paperwork handled?

Along with powers of attorney, wills, representation agreements and advanced care directives you would be well served to obtain and complete and expected letter of death in the home which can be obtained from your family doctor. This important letter removes the necessity of calling 911 when your loved ones does pass. You can confirm this with your family’s funeral director too.


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The Baby Boomers Ageing Out – How To Get Ready

May 23, 2019

The BC Care Providers Association released a report recently entitled “Bedlam in BC’s Continuing Care Sector – May 2019. It is an important piece of the research that points squarely at the demand Baby Boomers will be placing on an already overrun system of care. From our perspective here at the Memorial Society we see this report as an early warning signal;

Be prepared and All Ready to Go!

Given the unarguable demographics and the impact the increasing demand will have on individuals and families it is of the utmost importance to get our end of life planning organized, well discussed by the family and funeral arrangements made well in advance. With the significant increase in demand for funeral services it behooves families to  make their arrangement needs formal by planning well in advance so that when death does comes the family is prepared and well able to handle the delays and chaos that may be enveloping the funeral industry.

Our All Ready To Go Binder kit is a tool that families can use in order that they be well prepared to face a funeral services industry that may in fact be overwhelmed by the demand for their services.


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The Idea of Being All Ready to Go is the First Step

April 16, 2019

I was at the Zoomer Show this past weekend and met hundreds of people who took the time to stop by the Memorial Society of BC booth for a visit. Many said they loved the idea of our All Ready to Go Binder and that they would get right on it. And yes some may do just that. Statistics though, suggest many more will not. Over 80% of us are not at all prepared for life’s end.

There is the idea of being ready and I do understand that can be a comforting though, almost like thinking about it is doing something about it. Well I have news for y’all, they are two very different things! Where the rubber hits the road is in the actual, physical doing something to get all ready to go. Buying the kit, purchasing a binder for it to live in. Actually getting the paperwork started and perhaps filing a copy of your will in the binder will make the end of your life much more real.  It is this very sense of reality that oftentimes stops people ‘dead in their tracks’ from actually getting all ready to go.

Take a deep breath, order your All Ready to Go Kit and begin.

It is indeed a generous and loving gift you can give to your family and friends.

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Conversations That Matter

March 11, 2019

Stu and I had a wonderful conversation about the importance of end of life planning. Here is the link to the show! Enjoy it and please do feel free to pass the link along.

MSBC Staff Team

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Our Fear of Death is Paralyzing – Feel it and plan anyway!

December 18, 2018

When it comes to end of life preparations, being All Ready to Go, we here in North America, British Columbia more specifically are woefully under prepared! 17% of us have some degree of readiness when it comes to planning for our death – most of us do not.

Our lack of planning is for the most part a direct result of our fear of dying.

“Unless the West changes their idea that there is only one life, this hypocrisy, this clinging, this fear of death cannot be changed.”                       Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Not this is a tall order and in a way not the point, though ‘knowing’ that death is not the end of a spiritual life would be a help for sure. In the world of personal growth and personal motivation there is an expression that goes something like this;

“Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

Written by Susan Jeffries author of a book by the same title. Here is a little more of what she wrote; “Are you afraid of making decisions . . . asking your boss for a raise . . . leaving an unfulfilling relationship . . . facing the future? Whatever your fear, here is your chance to push through it once and for all. In this enduring guide to self-empowerment, Dr. Susan Jeffers inspires us with dynamic techniques and profound concepts that have helped countless people grab hold of their fears and move forward with their lives.”

A Christmas gift you could give your family is your intention to get to work on your All Ready to Go Binder early in 2019, and then get back to living your life.

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Our First Christmas Without Jody – The Importance of Planning Together

December 3, 2018

Jody passed away May 5th, 1988 and I remember that first Christmas Season without her was looming large in front of me as if it were yesterday. I recall wondering what the heck we were going to do without her to celebrate one of her favorite times of the year.

So, as a family, we started to talk about what we could do to include Jody in our Christmas celebrations. Though the family was spread all over the country we talked about our plans as if we were going to be together in one home. Planning this way really brought our family much closer together emotionally and spiritually. A Christmas present that only Jody’s death could have brought us.

  • We decided to hang special ornaments on the Christmas trees in her honor.
  • We chose to have places at the family Christmas tables with a setting for her and her picture on the plate.
  • Some of us decided to put a light on the local Hospice Christmas Tree in Jody’s name.
  • Some of us decided to give food to the local food bank on her behalf.
  • As a family we choose to tell Jody stories and remember her as if she were with us still.
  • We all agreed that it was fine to celebrate Christmas as a happy family and to be sad that a dear one was not with us. The two were just part of life in our family at the moment.

I decided to wear crazy, colorful socks, one of Jody’s habits, as a way to remember her and have her present it a physical way. To this day thirty years later I still wear those crazy socks and remember Jody.

The thing we did well was we all talked about it. We didn’t hide behind emotional correctness / politeness and didn’t shy away from chats about our first Christmas without her. And yes it was emotional; it was a bit of a challenge for each of us especially for her widowed husband Roy.

Roy’s family did it differently. They chose not to talk about Jody and just got on with Christmas as they always did. They avoided, as best they could, the awkward elephant in the room – Jody is not with us – and somehow pretended their way through the Christmas Season with barely a mention of her. It was really hard on Roy! And must have been for his family members too even though they wouldn’t admit it out loud.

The juxtaposition of the way two families handled the same loss during their first Christmas without Jody was a great lesson for me. Trying to hide the elephant in the room is way harder and more emotionally challenging than addressing the loss of our loved one and talking about how to include them in our first Christmas without a beloved family member.

For me facing it in an open way, being real and chatting about what we could do and how we could do it was healing and very much a part of the grieving process. As we planned our celebration to include our late loved one Jody we also were honoring her loss. Odd I thought, that planning our first Christmas without her could be so healing for our sad hearts.

Remember the importance of planning – it always results in better outcomes. Have you got your end of life well planned? If not call MSBC today!

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Medical Assistance In Dying – The Striking Oddness of It

November 20, 2018

To be sure I have no moral judgment around choosing or not choosing MAID, it is a most personal and intimate family conversation that needs to be undertaken with the support of the medical system. The resulting choice is that individual’s and that family’s right to make.

Once the choice is made to proceed with MAID and the required medical processes have been completed and the day and time have been set then the unique responses to what has just been planned start to show up.

I was speaking with a care aide the other day; she had called asking for support regarding a client who had chosen MAID. The client’s end date had been set and the care aide had agreed to pick her up, have a final cup of tea and then proceed to the hospital to die with the support of the hospital staff and MAID.

The care aide was struggling with the clarity of it all.

“11:00am on Friday my client will be dead. I know that our last cup of tea will be our last cup of tea! It’s so weird to know this all before hand and I am not sure how to process it all.” She said.

In her statement lay the complications inherent with MAID. The best by date has been clearly established. We now know with clarity and certainty the remaining number days and hours we will have with our loved one. We will know when it is our last hug with certainty; we will know when it is our last night together with razor sharp clarity. In a very real way this clarity cuts through a lot of our perhaps silent wishing and hoping for a miracle that somehow they will live just a little longer.

It does however provide us with a very clear opportunity to fulfill our relationship with our loved one that chose MAID. With the certainty of a final day and time we can make conscious choices to have conversations and say a more full and complete good-bye than we could if the time and date of death we unclear. Our very human tendency to wish for the best for our loved one can often encourage our procrastination; our unwillingness to have those all-important end of life chats.

With a fixed date of death procrastination is no longer on the table. If we are willing we can arrange beautiful and graceful times with our family member that will allow us each to let go in a conscious and present way; a way that can fully honor our loving relationship.  Odd though it may feel it can be a blessing if we take the opportunity MAID offers to say good-bye consciously as opposed to waiting until it is too late.

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Gentle Reminders… When the Time is Right.

November 14, 2018

We often witness friends or family members struggling to make important end of life choices just after a loved one has passed. All we can do in the moment is support them as they struggle to manage their emotions while making often-expensive decisions regarding funeral arrangements.

Though it is not the right time in the moment to make the suggestion of being better prepared for the next time, it is the right time for you to note it! You might consider jotting a reminder in your day-timer several months down the road to have a quiet chat about them getting better prepared for their own end of life.

It is the right time though, to notice whether your own end of life paper work is in order. Use this checklist to make sure you have covered all your bases, and pass it along to your friends and family members to support them in their preparations too!


Stay tuned to our web site early in the New Year for the launch of our All Ready To Go Binder!


The Staff Team


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2022 Annual General Meeting Notice

The Board and Staff of the Memorial Society of BC…


Where art and death meet – selecting an urn

This past week we’ve had a couple of conversations with…


Planning a Home Death – Five Simple Questions

With 916,000 baby boomers currently living in British Columbia coupled…


The Baby Boomers Ageing Out – How To Get Ready

The BC Care Providers Association released a report recently entitled…


The Idea of Being All Ready to Go is the First Step

I was at the Zoomer Show this past weekend and…