Category Archives: Events

Farewell Your Loved One with White Doves at their Funeral or Memorial

White Doves represent spirituality in its deepest sense. Traditional funeral stories told that doves carried the souls of deceased people to heaven. Doves are often portrayed on graves to represent the eternal peace of someone who has departed this life.

Whatever you believe and whatever traditions you follow when mourning the loss of a loved one, it is always comforting to feel that they have gone somewhere peaceful and secure.

When the white doves fly away at the end of a service, people tell me that it feels like they are saying their final goodbye to that person. It often brings up emotions and helps to express grief, which is very therapeutic.

Heavenly Doves can bring between 1 and 25 white doves to services in Sydney. They can be released straight from their special box or they can be handed to family members and/or friends for release.

The doves are usually released at the end of a chapel or graveside service. But they can be released wherever family and friends feel it is appropriate – as long as they are released outside.

White doves are a great way of delivering a special message of peace and love (instead of just flowers) if you can’t be there because you live far away or circumstances prevent you being able to attend. We can read out a personal message or poem before setting the doves free.

How Many Doves Should be Released?

If you’re not sure how many doves to release, here are a couple of ideas.

A Single Dove

To represent the essence of your loved one passing away.

The Holy Trinity + A Spirit Dove

Three doves can be released to represent the father, son and holy spirit, then a single dove is released (usually from the hands of the closest person to the deceased) to represent their loved one joining with the Holy Trinity in Heaven.

Seven Doves = Spiritual Perfection

The number seven is a significant number in the bible.

Seven White Doves can represent seven angels in white flying through the sky.

Twelve Doves

The number 12 is also an important number in the bible.

12 doves can be released to represent 12 blessings (hope, joy, wonder, praise, peace, benevolence, comfort, faith, perseverance, strength, love and grace)

A dove for every year/decade

In the unfortunate loss of a younger person, we can provide a dove for every year of their life (up to age 20) or if the person was older, a dove for every decade of their life can be released.

A 21 Dove Salute

The twenty-one gun salute is often the highlight of official military ceremonies and commemorations. If your loved one served in the military we can release 21 doves, peacefully acknowledging their dedication to our armed forces.

A dove for closest family and friends

Heavenly Doves can simply bring a dove for each person that wants to take part in the release of doves at the funeral service.

Hand-releasing is the most common way that our doves are released because people can personally feel that they are letting their loved one go as the dove flies away.

Heavenly Doves has obtained top 3 in ‘special services’ category in NSW at Australian Bridal Industry Academy Awards 2007, 2008 & 2009. For more information and bookings see www.heavenlywhitedoves.net

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Healing Grief Residential Program in NSW with Petrea King

Healing Grief is a weekend residential program that acknowledges the pain of grief as
well as providing an understanding of bereavement, its idiosyncrasies and practical strategies to begin or continue the process of healing, integration and making meaning of our loss.

This program is suitable for anyone who has lost a loved one either recently or in the past and who finds that grief is ongoing.

There are limited spaces available for the upcoming program on 19th – 21st February in Bundanoon, NSW (90 minutes from Sydney). Financial subsidies are available for people who live in NSW, through support from NSW Health.

Reading Petrea’s book, Sometimes Hearts Have to Break is highly recommended before attending this program.

For more information visit http://www.questforlife.com.au or phone 02 4883 6599.

How Will The Haitians Grieve Their Loved Ones

This blog posting is courtesy of JoAnne at Heartache to Healing  http://heartachetohealing.com/blog

The grief in Haiti is unimaginable; we have all seen the visual images of the death and destruction. CNN has reported that a government official said the death toll from the January 12th 7.0-magnitude earthquake may exceed between 100,000-200,000. The exact number is unknown and may remain unknown.

About 3 million people — one-third of Haiti’s population — were affected by the quake, the Red Cross said.

In addition to the physical suffering, there is the grief.  Grief is the normal and natural emotional response to loss.  I learned through some research* that the majority of the people are Catholics or Protestants, whose practice is to provide last rites to the dead and a proper burial.  The main Cathedral in Port Au Prince has crumbled; there will be no prayer vigils and no funeral masses for the dead.

There is an Afro-Creole view called Vodou (Voodoo) which is also practiced in Haiti.  The belief is that people are born and people died and this is simply the cycle of life, death and rebirth.  When the body dies the spirit moves on.  The belief is that the spirit moves through the water.  Looking into the water then, you see the land of the recent dead where the soul goes and it is said they stay there for a year and a day floating and resting. Then they are brought up in a ceremony and released to go on to God.

Vodou is actually helpful in that it functions as a social support network, through community congregations.  Every person in the tradition has access to spirits that govern the realm of death.  The spirits escort the people into the realm of death.  The belief is that death is part of life to be laughed at and death is something that takes everyone in the end.

Rituals are important to healing from grief; they offer a sense of being connected and offer the opportunity to let out emotions.   It seems the Haitian’s are being robbed of the basic burial rituals and mourning the dead in traditional ways will not be possible because so many bodies have been buried in mass graves.  Many families will never know where there dead lie.

My hope is that they find comfort in their religious belief’s, and with those family and friends that a have survived.  What can we do to let them know they are not alone and offer comfort? How can we offer hope to people in a situation that appears so hopeless? Except for offering prayers, I don’t know.  But if I find some answers, I will let you know.  If you have suggestions, let us know by commenting below.

*Elizabeth McAlister, Associate Professor of religion at Wesleyan University

Death leaves online lives stuck in limbo

NEW YORK (AP) W hen Jerald Spangenberg collapsed and died in the middle of a quest in an online game, his daughter embarked on a quest of her own: to let her father’s gaming friends know that he hadn’t just decided to desert them.

It wasn’t easy, because she didn’t have her father’s “World of Warcraft” password, and the game’s publisher couldn’t help her. Eventually, Melissa Allen Spangenberg reached her father’s friends by asking around online for the “guild” he belonged to.

One of them, Chuck Pagoria in Morgantown, Kentucky, heard about Spangenberg’s death three weeks later. Pagoria had put his absence down to an argument among the gamers that night.

“I figured he probably just needed some time to cool off,” Pagoria said. “I was blown away when I heard the reason that he hadn’t been back. Nobody had any way of finding this out.”

With online social networks becoming ever more important in our lives, they’re also becoming an important element in our deaths. Spangenberg, who died suddenly from an abdominal aneurysm at 57, was unprepared, but others are leaving detailed instructions. There’s even a tiny industry that has emerged to help people wrap up their online contacts after their deaths.

When Robert Bryant’s father died last year, he left his son a USB flash drive in a drawer in his home office in Lawton, Oklahoma. The drive contained a list of contacts for his son to notify, including the administrator of an online group he had been in.

“It was creepy because I was telling all these people that my dad was dead,” Bryant said. “It did help me out quite a bit, though, because it allowed me to clear up a lot of that stuff and I had time to help my mom with whatever she needed.”

David Eagleman, a neuroscientist at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, has had plenty of time to think about the issue.

“I work in the world’s largest medical center, and what you see here every day is people showing up in ambulances who didn’t expect that just five minutes earlier,” he said. “If you suddenly die or go into a coma, there can be a lot of things that are only in your head in terms of where things are stored, where your passwords are.”

For more of this facinating article by PETER SVENSSON of The Associated Press, you can read it here.

BOOK REVIEW: Afterlife Agreements: A Gift From Beyond

Afterlife Agreements: A Gift From Beyond is beautifully written by a bereaved mother of her grief journey.

It is filled with love, inspiration, and the spiritual piece that makes this book so unique. It was very moving to read Chris Mulligan’s journey following the death of her son, Zac. As she wrote about afterlife agreements and contracts we set up with our loved ones prior to birth, my own beliefs were validated, impleted and solidified. The grief process is so very difficult , but to know that our children are still very much a part of our lives can help lessen that grief.

Chris openly shares her “new relationship” with Zac, allowing us to know that their bond remains strong and loving. As the pain of Chris’ grief is journaled, she reminds herself and us that she and Zac set up their contracts for growth and learning. I am grateful Chris Mulligan followed her heart and Zac’s request that she write this book to help all bereaved parents look beyond their pain to the love and lessons that remain.

You can buy the book online at Amazon here.

Not quite Halloween, but almost….

Day of the DeadAt first glance, the Mexican custom of El Día de los Muertos — the Day of the Dead — may sound much like the U.S. custom of Halloween. After all, the celebration traditionally starts at midnight the night of Oct. 31, and the festivities are abundant in images related to death.

But the customs have different origins, and their attitudes toward death are different: In the typical Halloween festivities, death is something to be feared. But in el día de los muertos, death — or at least the memories of those who have died — is something to be celebrated.

El día de los muertos, which continues until Nov. 2, has become one of the biggest holidays in Mexico, and celebrations are becoming more common in areas of the United States with a large Hispanic population. Its origins are distinctly Mexican: During the time of the Aztecs, a monthlong summer celebration was overseen by the goddess Mictecacihuatl, the Lady of the Dead. After the Aztecs were conquered by Spain and Catholicism became the dominant religion, the customs became intertwined with the Christian commemoration of All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1.

Specifics of the celebration vary with region, but one of the most common customs is the making of elaborate altars to welcome departed spirits home. Vigils are held, and families often go to cemeteries to fix up the graves of their departed relatives. Festivities also frequently include traditional foods such as pan de muerto (bread of the dead), which can conceal a miniature skeleton.

Book me on the next plane to Mexico!

John Cleese’s Eulogy for Graham Chapman

Graham Chapman, co-author of the ‘Parrot Sketch,’ is no more.

He has ceased to be, bereft of life, he rests in peace, he has kicked the bucket, hopped the twig, bit the dust, snuffed it, breathed his last, and gone to meet the Great Head of Light Entertainment in the sky, and I guess that we’re all thinking how sad it is that a man of such talent, such capability and kindness, of such intelligence should now be so suddenly spirited away at the age of only forty-eight, before he’d achieved many of the things of which he was capable, and before he’d had enough fun.

Well, I feel that I should say, “Nonsense. Good riddance to him, the freeloading bastard! I hope he fries. ”

And the reason I think I should say this is, he would never forgive me if I didn’t, if I threw away this opportunity to shock you all on his behalf. Anything for him but mindless good taste. I could hear him whispering in my ear last night as I was writing this:

“Alright, Cleese, you’re very proud of being the first person to ever say ‘shit’ on television. If this service is really for me, just for starters, I want you to be the first person ever at a British memorial service to say ‘fuck’!”

You see, the trouble is, I can’t. If he were here with me now I would probably have the courage, because he always emboldened me. But the truth is, I lack his balls, his splendid defiance. And so I’ll have to content myself instead with saying ‘Betty Mardsen…’

But bolder and less inhibited spirits than me follow today. Jones and Idle, Gilliam and Palin. Heaven knows what the next hour will bring in Graham’s name. Trousers dropping, blasphemers on pogo sticks, spectacular displays of high-speed farting, synchronised incest. One of the four is planning to stuff a dead ocelot and a 1922 Remington typewriter up his own arse to the sound of the second movement of Elgar’s cello concerto. And that’s in the first half.

Because you see, Gray would have wanted it this way. Really. Anything for him but mindless good taste. And that’s what I’ll always remember about him—apart, of course, from his Olympian extravagance. He was the prince of bad taste. He loved to shock. In fact, Gray, more than anyone I knew, embodied and symbolised all that was most offensive and juvenile in Monty Python. And his delight in shocking people led him on to greater and greater feats. I like to think of him as the pioneering beacon that beat the path along which fainter spirits could follow.

Some memories. I remember writing the undertaker speech with him, and him suggesting the punch line, ‘All right, we’ll eat her, but if you feel bad about it afterwards, we’ll dig a grave and you can throw up into it.’ I remember discovering in 1969, when we wrote every day at the flat where Connie Booth and I lived, that he’d recently discovered the game of printing four-letter words on neat little squares of paper, and then quietly placing them at strategic points around our flat, forcing Connie and me into frantic last minute paper chases whenever we were expecting important guests.

I remember him at BBC parties crawling around on all fours, rubbing himself affectionately against the legs of gray-suited executives, and delicately nibbling the more appetizing female calves. Mrs. Eric Morecambe remembers that too.

I remember his being invited to speak at the Oxford union, and entering the chamber dressed as a carrot—a full length orange tapering costume with a large, bright green sprig as a hat—-and then, when his turn came to speak, refusing to do so. He just stood there, literally speechless, for twenty minutes, smiling beatifically. The only time in world history that a totally silent man has succeeded in inciting a riot.

I remember Graham receiving a Sun newspaper TV award from Reggie Maudling. Who else! And taking the trophy falling to the ground and crawling all the way back to his table, screaming loudly, as loudly as he could. And if you remember Gray, that was very loud indeed.

It is magnificent, isn’t it? You see, the thing about shock… is not that it upsets some people, I think; I think that it gives others a momentary joy of liberation, as we realised in that instant that the social rules that constrict our lives so terribly are not actually very important.

Well, Gray can’t do that for us anymore. He’s gone. He is an ex-Chapman. All we have of him now is our memories. But it will be some time before they fade.