About Our Mission
Authenticity. Transparency. Accessibility. Personalization.
Dear Departures was born out of a desire to educate and advocate for what is essentially a reclamation. We, as a western society, have only outsourced the care of our dead and dying for the last hundred and fifty years or so.
The home death movement, much like the home birth movement, has been about tapping into, and trusting, our innate abilities and support networks to see us through the bookends of life in the privacy and comfort of our own spaces. At Dear Departures, we encourage you to have as much control and autonomy as you’d like, and we can be there to guide, support, companion, and craft, when called upon.
You don’t NEED us, but if you want us, we’ll be there.
For years, people have been falling out of like with the “traditional” (read conventional) funeral services being offered.
Unfortunately, very few people know that you are not required to use the services of a funeral home, or funeral director, in the state of Colorado. Home funerals (also known as family-directed funerals) are legal in all fifty states.
Additionally, embalming is not required by law. Preservation for home funerals is achieved by using dry ice, or ice packs.
You and your loved ones do not have to contract the services of a funeral home in order to have time with, care for, honor, and grieve the dearly departed. In fact, many funeral homes limit your ability to do so in meaningful ways. See our FAQ page for more.
About the Tagline – As the Sun Sets on Life
Please, know that we did not come to this tagline in a “rainbows and butterflies” sort of way. We aren’t ones to get all mushy about death being beautiful. Still, we do believe that there is something to be said for the little (or big) bits of beauty to be had in it. It’s not to say that death isn’t difficult territory to navigate…because it is. It’s not to say that death can’t be gut-wrenching…because it can. Knowing your life, or that of someone you love, is coming to an end, can be brutal. Never having had the chance to know a life was about to end, is devastating.
So, what place does talk of beauty have in all of this? Even if the only beauty that can be brought to end-of-life, or after-death, is a splash of color, a favorite song, a familiar food, or a funny story…bring it!
We can bring little bits of beauty to what may be an otherwise ugly time. As the sun sets on a life, may we take in whatever vibrancy, and glory that we can. We invite you.
As the dying person, we invite you. Take it all in.
As the survivors, we invite you, too. Take it all in, before night fall.
When someone we love has dipped out of sight, below the horizon, what comes next is the darkness that is life without our person.
Hopefully, in the darkness that is grief, we are graced with at least a sliver of light, by way of the moon.
Where does moonlight come from? Is it not light reflected from a sun we can’t see, but that is there none-the-less?
Regardless of our spiritual beliefs (or lack thereof) one thing we think most people can agree on is that, what ultimately lives on, if nothing else, is our memory. The departed are in fact still with us – in memory, and in love.
May their memory light our way in the dark, until the dawn of a new (albeit very different) day breaks.
About Our Logo
Yes, yes, we know…yet another logo, in Colorado, with mountains! We love our mountains though! And, to be fair, a lot of heart and soul went into our logos development. The colors. The four elements. The setting sun.
Earth. Fire. Water. Air. Earth honors the solid foundation we’ve laid personally and professionally, and reminds us to stay grounded. Fire speaks to our passion. Water reminds us that we can be fluid, and still be exceptionally strong. Water as shape shifter speaks to our ability to be true to who we are, all the while, being adaptable. Air speaks to the universal human experience of taking our first precious breath when we are born, and our last breath when we die. John F. Kennedy said, “We all breathe the same air.” A reminder that despite all our differences, we are one. Air invites us to consider that just because we can’t see something, doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Regarding the colors of purple and teal, Dear Departures’ founder Tawnya shared:
“I rock a purple and teal suicide awareness ribbon tattoo. As chance would have it, the hospice and palliative care ribbon is also purple and teal. A mirrored image. Sure, there are only so many colors and color combos out there, but it was one of many serendipitous alignments in my journey into the death-sphere. You see, I have endured depression and suicidal ideation for as long as I can remember. (By the way, I’m a pretty open book.) Thus far, I’ve chosen life. It hasn’t always been easy. One day in April of 2016, I was the closest I had ever been to killing myself. The choice I made to live that day was a turning point. My self-discovered mantra coming out of that experience was ‘If I choose to live, I choose to live well.’ What living well looked like took some time to nail down, but a substantial piece of it was to find meaning and purpose in my life’s work. As I’ve journeyed into the realm of death and dying, and found my niche, I’ve often reflected on the choices I’ve made to keep going. Had I chosen death before finding this work, I wouldn’t be here to advocate.”
Hello! Tawnya Musser here! My educational background is in human services, with an emphasis in counseling and mental health. I have worked as a family advocate, counselor, and case manager. I’ve mentored at risk youth, and worked with both children and adults with developmental disabilities.
Though I knew at a very young age that I wanted to be in a helping field, in order to be of service to my fellow human beings (for whom I have always cared deeply), none of my roles ever seemed to quite “fit.” In 2016 I started engaging heavily in the realm of death and dying, on a personal level. After gaining some clarity that I seemed to be “in my element” in the death-sphere, I started pursuing education and sought out some mentors, in 2018. I’d finally figured out what I want to be when I grew up!
While I am strong suited to be in a service role, in roles past, I found myself trying too hard to “fix” and “save.” Through insight, and lots of personal work, I was able to tap into, that, serving in the realm of death and dying is a good fit for me because there is nothing to fix. There is no one to save. What is happening is happening. What has happened has happened. My role is to be there…to witness, to hear, and to hold. To walk alongside individuals and families as they navigate the often murky waters of death and dying. Being called on during what may be a difficult, messy, painful time in peoples’ lives is not something I take lightly.
Tawnya graduated in 2019 from the Life-Cycle Celebrant® program at Celebrant Foundation & Institute, where she specialized in funerals.
She’s a 2018 graduate of the Sacred Passages Doula certificate program through the Conscious Dying Institute.
She holds a B.S. from Metro State University of Denver in Human Services/Counseling & Mental Health, class of 2008.
Additionally, she is on the Board of Directors for the National Home Funeral Alliance(NHFA) and is a member of the National End-of-Life Doula Alliance (NEDA.)
A Word About Training
The home deathcare/community deathcare movement is about families knowing and trusting that they don’t have to call on, nor pay, a “professional” to care for their dead.
It is important to us, at Dear Departures, and as a part of the movement at large, that we not perpetuate the medicalized, industrialized, commoditized, sterilized death trade that has disenfranchised so many.
There is no governing body for “certified” death doulas, celebrants, or home funeral guides, nor does having a piece of paper necessarily legitimize someone’s knowledge, skill set, empathy, or compassion in any arena.
You don’t need any formal training to care for your dead and dying, nor do you need to hire someone that has training or certification.
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