Open Space and death

This is from the OST listserve – a contribution on how to use OST to bring eventfulness and participation to coming together to celebrate a life when it has ended.

>…… while we’ve been talking about circles of life and mutations
>of the OS form, I thought I’d share a bit about my experiences over
>the past 8 months.
>In November my Grandfather died. I had offered to do something for
>the celebration of his life and my Grandmother courageously took me
>up on it-she had no idea what OS was, just trusted me. She had a
>lot of fear that no one would stand up and speak. She had been to a
>traditional celebration not long before and no one had shared
>anything. I designed a blend of whole person process and OST.
>People shared deeply from their hearts-including many who thought
>they wouldn’t be able to.
>Then in April, my mother-in-law died. I had done a lot of reading
>and knew that it was important for my children and I to remember
>their Gramma at the same time-some way of being a family together.
>But what to do…. that would be meaningful to two six-year-olds and
>a three-year-old? Open Space has become my touchstone, so I
>wondered: Could I adapt OST for our funeral? Well, as it turned
>out, yes. And this is how it went:

>Ring the bells.
>Form a circle.
>Welcome to our time and space to remember Gramma.
>We are thinking of Daddy and while he isn’t here, we are just the
>right people to remember Gramma right now, right here.
>We don’t know when a life first begins, but whenever it begins is
>the right time.
>We don’t know when a life will end, but when it’s over, it’s over.
>And what happens in between is the only thing that could have happened.
>Our life together is about learning and contributing and Gramma has
>gone now to where she can keep doing that.
>Our space is open for sharing our thoughts and feelings about Gramma.
>Time for everyone to share.
>Placing flowers and pictures.
>Form a circle so we can all see each other and feel each other.
>Ring the bells.

>I was amazed at how easily it translated. Shouldn’t really have
>been surprised. I know it might seem a little bare, but when you
>are in deep grieving, those few words seem to take on so much more
>weight. It seemed to work for my children, brought them some
>comfort and closure. And I got to try it out again when our cat
>(16) died last month in the heat wave. Seemed to work just as well
>the second time.
>I didn’t ever intend to become experienced in open space and death.
>But life seems to have other ideas. Two of my clients are hospices.
>….. we often talk about living in open space. This is just one
>little example of death in it. And I know that some of us out there
>are working on integrating our open space life with our family life
>and this is one example of how I have used it with my children. I
>have also used OST for family meetings and while the three-year-old
>usually uses his two feet and is a butterfly, the six-year-olds
>totally groove on the post-its and the power. Hope it helps or
>Wendy Farmer-O’Neil
>Prospera Communications & Consulting Services


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