ABODE Academy 2
Wine Tasting

6-Week ABODE Academy

Whether you’re interested in learning more about death and dying, you’re in the hospice field and want to partner with us or you’re already an ABODE volunteer – or considering volunteering – this is a wonderful way to become acquainted with ABODE and all we do – and how we can support one another’s success.

Join us for our ABODE Academy 2, a 6-week training series via Zoom, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Thursday evenings, starting Jan. 14. 

Here’s our line up of ABODE Academy 2 sessions – each includes plenty of time for Q&A. Participate in all or indicate those of most interest to you when you RSVP by sending an email to info@abodehome.org.

Theme: Preparing for the End

  1. Thursday, Jan. 14
    A Good Death: Let’s Talk About It

    Speaker: Ynyra O’Shea, Sacred Passage Death Doula, Director of Sacred Realms of Dying and ABODE Volunteer

Most of us spend more time planning our vacations than planning our final days. Death ­– whether it’s ours or that of our loved ones – can be a difficult subject to bring up, let alone to discuss in-depth. And yet, if we don’t, we find ourselves stressed and scrambling as we try to make decisions about what our loved ones would want.

In this session, we cover good death conversation starters, questions to ask and ponder and all the to-dos we need to get done before it’s literally too late. When is it time for hospice? What life-saving measures do we want – or don’t want? Should we be buried or cremated? How do we divide our possessions without hurting feelings – and who do we leave in charge?

Planning and communicating in advance is an act of love for the people we care about. In this session, we lay out a game plan to follow to ensure that when it’s time to go, we’ve got our lives in order.

  1. Thursday, Jan. 21
    A Good Death: It’s All in the (Legal) Details

    Speaker: Carol Bertsch, Attorney, Elder Care

Whether a death is expected or it comes completely as a shock, having an advance directive, power of attorney and a will are the best gifts we can leave behind.

In this session, we’ll review the Texas version of an advance directive and a “do not resuscitate,” both of which spell out what medical care we want – and don’t want – as we reach the end. We’ll cover the types of powers of attorney, how to select them and the important role they play in carrying out our wishes. And we’ll tackle the key points of writing a will, how to do it most efficiently and what to expect with probate.

Improper planning – or no planning at all – can lead to family disputes, assets getting into the wrong hands and long court litigation. So let’s get started! To quote Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

  1. Jan. 28, Session 3
    A Good Death: Is Your Life in Order?

    Speakers: Arthur Dawes, Former Social Worker, Naturalist, ABODE Volunteer and Coordinator for Pax Christi, a Social Justice Advocacy Group and Darwin Huartson, Community Coordinator, Porter Loring Mortuaries

If we die tomorrow, does anyone know where to find our keys? Our financial records? Account codes and passwords? And how about our will? One of the most important things we can do to prepare for death is organize our lives – and ensure our loved ones know what they need to do and where to find things after we’re gone.

In this session, we’ll cover everything from itemizing our belongings, updating our insurance, reviewing our retirement accounts – even deciding what to do with our Facebook page and other social media.

We’ll also delve into more personal topics – have we said everything we need to say? Expressed our love – and our regrets? Made amends? Completed our bucket list? What life lessons, advice, hopes and dreams do we want to leave behind for our loved ones?

When it comes to getting ourselves organized, it’s literally now…or never.

  1. Feb. 4, Session 4
    A Good Death: The After Party

    Speakers: Linda Baker-Webber, Program Coordinator, UT Health San Antonio Body Donation Program, Pat Sullivan, Certified Pre-Arrangement Advisor, Neptune Society and Dr. Danny Westcott, Professor and Director, The Body Farm, Texas State Department of Anthropology

There’s no better time to plan our death than when we’re still alive to do it. Do we want to be buried or cremated? How about donating our organs for transplants – or our whole bodies for medical or even crime research? Is a funeral required? And what does it cost? What’s a “home” funeral? What’s a “natural” burial and a burial at sea? Is it true that we can turn our ashes into diamonds? And how do we involve our loved ones in the planning?

In this session, we examine how best to lay out our plans, directions and wishes so that our last act plays out just the way we want it – and our loved ones can focus solely on special rituals, such as anointing, and our final goodbyes.

  1. Feb. 11, Session 5
    A Good Death: Returning to the Earth

    Speakers: Sunny Markham, Countryside Memorial Park and Genaro Reyes, Compassion Mortuary Services 

Those of us who care deeply about the environment may welcome the idea of a natural, or green, burial. The purpose of a green burial is to care for our remains in a way that honors us and the ecosystem at the same time. Bodies are simply and lovingly returned to the earth – no embalming, concrete, metal or hardwood is involved. Eco-friendly burial containers and/or shrouds are used, and the body continues its natural cycle of life.

Sunny Markham is passionate about helping families plan and experience the true peace and beauty of a natural burial. She and her daughter, singer-songwriter Chrystabell, co-own and operate Countryside Memorial Park, a natural burial cemetery near San Antonio. Sunny offers guidance and support when a death occurs, and can connect a family with her associate, Genaro Reyes, who is an independent funeral director knowledgeable and passionate about the natural burial choice. Together they help people achieve beautiful, serene, natural and affordable funerals for their loved ones.

  1. Feb. 25, Session 6
    Life After Loss – Grieving, Remembering, Honoring, Healing

    Speaker: Darwin Huartson, Community Coordinator, Porter Loring Mortuaries

There  is no one right way to respond to grief, bereavement, brokenness and sorrow any more than there is one way to live life.

Grief is a process that allows us to adjust and adapt. It contributes to our healing and wholeness.

The significance of being a companion to someone who is grieving cannot be overstated. Companioning is about being present to another person’s pain – not taking it away.

Join us as we explore how each of us can be “bereavement companions,” walking alongside and offering support and care to ourselves and to others.