Death & Dying

Stephen Jenkinson is coming to Edmonton!

What keeps us from talking more openly about death & dying? There is plenty of murder films/movies and gruesome books.

Watch this short video about Rayne Johnson’s work in Palliative Care

“Death Becomes Us” Episode One  and Episode Two, CBC Ideas, April and May 2014

It is a relief to hear more and more programs and interviews on ‘Death & Dying’ and the movement of ‘Death Midwifery’ (helping to empower families and friends to have more hands on in Death Care)

It depends on where you die! Settings of care in Canada

“Currently, over 260,000 Canadians die every year, and it is estimated that by 2036, there will be 3.3 million Canadians over the age of 80.”

WOW! The CHPCA reminds us that only 16-30% of Canadians have access to hospice palliative care. Read more about how hospice palliative care in Canada will be changing to meet the needs of the dying.

Choosing a substitute in Advance Care Planning The Speak Up website has another great article. This time it’s about choosing a substitute when making advance care plans.

Rayne’s education on ‘end of life’ issues is to help bring death to a natural normal process just as quoted below, written by the Dalai Lama…

As a Buddhist, I view death as a normal process, a reality that I accept will occur as long as I remain in this earthly existence. Knowing that I cannot escape it, I see no point in worrying about it. I tend to think of death as being like changing your clothes when they are old and worn out, rather than as some final end. Yet death is unpredictable: We do not know when or how it will take place. So it is only sensible to take certain precautions before it actually happens.

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Palliative Hospice Care has come a long ways in Canada in regards to education on pain medication and other medical interventions. And there is still so much to be learned and I leave that up to the medical professionals.

What I offer is knowledge of integrative therapies such as Aromatherapy, Massage and Reiki, pain meditations and contemplative meditations. The pain meditations help to acknowledge areas of pain that maybe the medications don’t touch. There is the physical pain and the emotional/spiritual pain that menifests in the body. Gentle meditations that help with increasing breath and awareness into the whole body aiding in easing some of the pain.
My father was the recipient to many of these meditations and I do believe it helped him immensely. Many times he would ask for it. I also recorded them onto a tape of some guided meditations which he used a lot when I wasn’t around. Here was a man, a farmer all his 76 years, in the last two years of his life, he received more attention with these guided practices and massages. (from his children and grandchildren)

The contemplative meditations include ‘guided forgiveness exercise’, a ‘heart practice’ to help tap into more Spiritual realm of healing and ‘tonglen’ to help deal with ones own suffering and pain.

A favorite poem by Rumi, ‘A Garden Beyond Paradise’ speaks of life and death so beautifully. I often recited it during Savasana, the end of my yoga classes which many students loved. And is often used at funerals.

A Garden Beyond Paradise

Everything you see has its roots in the Unseen World.
The forms may change, yet the essence remains the same.

Every wondrous sight will vanish,
Every sweet word will fade. But do not be disheartened,
The source they came from is eternal-
Growing, branching out, giving new life and new joy..

Why do you weep?-
That source is within you,
And the whole world is springing up from it.
The source is full,
Its waters are overflowing: Do not grieve drink your fill!
Don’t think it will ever run dry – This is the endless Ocean!

From the moment you came into this world
A ladder was placed in front of you that you might escape.

From earth you became plant,
From plant you became animal.
Afterwards you became a human being,
Endowed with knowledge, intellect and faith.

Behold the body, born of dust – how perfect it has become!
Why should you fear its end?
When were you ever made less by dying?

When you pass beyond this human form,
No doubt you will become an angel
And soar through the heavens!

But don’t stop there.
Even heavenly bodies grow old.

Pass again from the heavenly realm and plunge into the vast ocean of consciousness.
Let the drop of water that is you become the hundred mighty seas.

But do not think that the drop alone
Becomes the Ocean – the Ocean too, becomes the drop!

by Rumi- A great ‘funeral poem’ or at a ‘memorial service’.

There is a change happening in Death Care with the help of Death Midwifery movement. I have participated in a couple of home deaths and am a strong promoter. I attended the first ‘Home Funeral Alliance’ conference in Boulder, Co in 2010. There are more and more people wishing to die at home and if I can help them and their families do so along with often the help of ‘home care’ we are not only saving money, we are facing death as we used to. Not all families will want to wash the body and do a home vigil, that is not for everyone. The funeral homes provide a wonderful service and there are many ways family and friends can be more involved.

 Edmonton’s First Death Cafe

A Death Café is a relaxed and safe setting where you can join open, honest discussions to explore the questions you’ve always had about life, dying and grief.

Come and discover what a Death Café might have for you.

Go to for more information, or email Rayne at

Rayne would be happy to talk with you at 780-642-8703

We had a very successful ‘Death & Dying Film Series’, keep an eye out for the Fall of 2015 for the next films showing.

for website and other media-PosterREVISED LR

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