Threshold Support Circle
“Life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one”
Founded in 2009 by Jennifer Downs and Lee Hoyt, Threshold Support Circle provides a forum and resources to explore end-of-life issues and after-death care. We believe that life can be lived more fully when we befriend and come to terms with the reality of death. In order to bring the reality of death into our view of the natural cycle of life, we offer opportunities to discuss options, ask questions, learn new skills, and share stories of personal experience.
- Create a local community to educate individuals and families about their options in after-death care
- Share opportunities to create meaningful rituals for celebrating loved ones before and after death
- Provide information about the spiritual, emotional, ecological and economic benefits of caring for our own at death
- Offer workshops and events to support caregivers, family members and friends dealing with death, loss and grief
Our regularly scheduled events include guest speakers, workshops, film screenings and themed discussions. As members of the National Home Funeral Alliance (NHFA,) the Funeral Consumers Alliance and Green Burial Council, we share resources from the growing home funeral and green burial movements.
Event: Prayer flag for loved one: Workshop with Hannah Gilson: Details TBA, Date in June, 2014
Announcing: Level III of Home Funeral Guide Training with Jerrigrace Lyons: September 11-14, 2014. Details TBA. Contact Lee Hoyt.
“Far beyond where winds have blown, waking into realms unknown
Footsteps free of space and time, silent thunder, holy mind
In the heart a song of peace and mercy calling me back home.” — Michael Stillwater
Home Funerals – Reviving an American Tradition
Until the late nineteenth century, Americans most often died, as they had been born, in their own homes, cared for by their family and community members. After a death, family members washed, dressed and laid out the body, and ordered the coffin from the local carpenter. Dying, like birthing, was integrated into living. Families caring for their own at death were able to take the time they needed and begin to heal as they engaged in these last acts of love.
Today we all have the right to choose natural death care and a home funeral for ourselves and our loved ones. Family members are empowered to direct the arrangements and take the time they need to say goodbye. With the support of friends and community members, the family provides respectful and compassionate care of the body and may hold a ceremony or vigil in the intimacy of a home or nursing home. A more formal religious ceremony may follow, before cremation or burial. Home Funeral Guides educate families and communities about necessary skills and offer support in filing paperwork. Some funeral homes support family directed natural death care, by providing such services as transportation. Those who choose home funerals appreciate the freedom to honor their loved one in a uniquely meaningful way, to slow the pace, encourage participation of family and friends, control the budget, and be environmentally responsible.
For more information on a downloadable PDF: Background and Benefits of Home Funerals
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” – Albert Einstein
Threshold Support Circle Workshops and Special Events 2010-2013:
- The Many Faces of Grief: An experiential workshop with Deborah Baer, a local psychotherapist with expertise in grief and loss, 2012
- Containers for the Body, Comfort for the Soul: An introduction to home funerals by Lee Hoyt, and hands on learning with local artisans who create ceramic urns and sustainable caskets, 2012
- The Better End: Surviving (and Dying) on Your Own Terms in Today’s Modern Medical World: Book talk by the author, Dr. Dan Morhaim, 2011
- Creating Sacred Spaces for Living and Dying: Rev. Tina Beneman, an expert in the use of herbs, flowers and essential oils, explored ways to give and receive comfort during the dying experience, 2012.
- Celebrating a Life: Illuminating Memories in a Scrap Book Tribute: Jaana Myllyluoma, life coach and avid scrapbooker, offered exercises, journaling and scrapbooking techniques, 2013
- Grandmother Rose and the Little Button: Film about loss and grief, and discussion led by the screenwriter Brigitte Manekin, 2011
- Befriending Death as a Caregiver for the Dying: Experiential workshop led by Lee Hoyt, hospice volunteer, end-of-life Doula, and Home Funeral Guide, 2012
- Summer Film Series: “Exploring Death in Service to Life” Feature films followed by discussion, including: Evening, Bonneville, The Bucket List, Hope Springs. 2010-2013
Threshold Support Circle Advisory Group
Lee Hoyt, Co-cordinator of Threshold Support Circle, is a hospice volunteer and end-of-life doula with Gilchrist Hospice Care. After earning a BA in Biology and an MA in English, Lee was a classroom biology and English teacher for many years. After retiring she became involved in Tibetan Buddhism and hospice work. As a natural outgrowth of both, Lee joined the grassroots movement that supports families caring for their own at death. She is a certified Home Funeral Guide and is currently participating in The Metta Institute for End of Life Professionals.
Jennifer Downs, Co-coordinator of Threshold Support Circle, and founder of Pivot Point Projects, is a registered nurse with over thirty years of experience as an acupuncturist. Grounded in the traditions of both East and West, she is dedicated to helping individuals maximize their health, life meaning and innate gifts. In addition to her ongoing work as a community organizer, Jennifer founded Pivot Point to provide opportunities for individuals to share their inner and outer journeys in a dynamic community, where an alchemical process unfolds that encourages self awareness and rich learning. Link to Jennifer Downs Acupuncture
Susan Wallendorf has been an educator, counselor, and entrepreneur, focused on both early childhood and end-of-life issues. She is currently the Conference and Membership Administrator for Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America and is enrolled in the Companioning the Dying program.
Jaana Myllyluoma, Ph.D, teaches ethics and communication at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and coaches women to blossom in their careers and life. She is a certified life coach and empowerment practitioner. Her experiences of caring for family members and friends during their final months inspired Jaana to develop and offer empowerment workshops for caregivers and the grieving.
Tina Beneman wrote and hosted an organic gardening series for Maryland Public Television. Currently she practices as a therapist specializing in flower essences and Resonance Re-patterning, and officiates weddings, funerals and other ceremonies.
Pat Halle has been a studio potter for over thirty years, making primarily functional porcelain pots. She is a member artist at Baltimore Clayworks and works at the Maryland Disability Law Center. ”Recently friends have asked me to make the urn they’ll use in the future and will even join me in the studio as I make the urn. This shared experience gives us the opportunity to hold living and dying all at once, with grace, cherishing it all.”
Click here to see our upcoming Threshold Support Circle Events