From the Heart

Molly Keating, MA, CT

About Molly Keating

Hello and welcome to From the Heart. My name is Molly and I have the great privilege of writing this monthly blog for O’Connor Mortuary. This wonderful work has brought together two of my deep passions, writing and grief education. In 2016 I earned my Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement and I hold a Masters degree in English Literature from Cal State Long Beach that I earned in 2011. I had the rare experience of growing up in a funeral home and having a father as a mortician, making my proximity to these topics, experiences, and ceremonies first-hand and life-long. It is an honor to share with you my thoughts, but most importantly, current academic thinking on taboo topics such as funerals, grief experiences, and the importance of having lasting, healing traditions.

Thank you for reading, my hope is that you find this an open place full of meaning and hope as you walk the road of grief.

17 06, 2020

The Gravity of Grief, and a Way Through

By | 2020-06-17T23:04:23-07:00 June 17th, 2020|General, Inspiration, Resources & Information|0 Comments

Stick with me on this one - I think it's important. When COVID lockdowns started, I found myself very isolated at home with two very little children. TV became a primary escape for us as parks, beaches and even grandparents were off limits. When Disney released Frozen 2 early, I was excited to watch it with my 3 year old daughter. Little did I think I would absolutely adore this movie. There are many reasons it speaks to me, but what surprised me was how it speaks to the community of readers here. Death isn't uncommon in Disney movies, but [...]

20 05, 2020

They Are Dying, and You Can’t Be There

By | 2020-05-20T21:32:19-07:00 May 20th, 2020|General, Grief and Healing|2 Comments

They are dying and you can't be there. People have died alone before. This isn't new. Unexpected deaths, delays, avoidance, or hope of healing are just some reasons that can keep us from being at a death bed when a death occurs. But never or rarely are people prevented from being there. This is a whole new type of trauma that the bereaved people of the COVID-era will have to navigate. And this isn't happening just to COVID patients but to anyone sick or dying in a hospital setting. People dying of "normal" things are dying in abnormal ways. Abnormal [...]

21 04, 2020

The Worst Time to Die: COVID-19 & the Resources We Need

By | 2020-04-22T15:43:25-07:00 April 21st, 2020|Community, Grief and Healing|3 Comments

Babies are still being born. People are still dying of other, "regular" causes and "regular" tragedies. Lives are being changed by a cancer diagnosis and others are being cured. Life is moving ahead despite how on-hold it all feels. And while there is NEVER, ever, ever, ever  a "good" time to die. Ever. It seems that we are living through the worst time to die or experience the death of someone you love. Because of restrictions, just 10 people, in some cases not even whole families, can attend a funeral ceremony. While many funeral homes offer webcasting for free, it's [...]

19 03, 2020

Funerals in a Time of Quarantine

By | 2020-03-19T08:24:57-07:00 March 19th, 2020|General, Planning Ahead, Resources & Information|11 Comments

Just yesterday I saw something I've never seen before at a funeral for a young mom and her daughter, killed together in a car accident. Over a thousand people wanted to attend their service but the health precautions kept all but immediate family from attending the actual service. Hundreds of people gathered in pockets to webcast the service and line the streets of the procession. But they also did the most beautiful thing. The pastor was deeply upset that the church would effectively be empty despite the tragedy and outpouring of love from the community. So, an idea came forward [...]

18 02, 2020

Not ready to be happy

By | 2020-02-18T22:45:46-08:00 February 18th, 2020|General|2 Comments

I believe there comes a period in mourning where we begin to realize we are returning. Life, light and a few smiles somehow make their way past our dark gates of grief. It's surprising and perhaps even exciting - but almost immediately it also feels threatening and fearful. Grievers often feel a loyalty to their pain. This pain of grief can become a stand-in companion for the loved one being mourned. There can be a sense that only when we are holding tightly to our grief are we being loyal to the memory of our loved one. But if we [...]

22 01, 2020

The Many Losses of a Grieving Person

By | 2020-01-22T23:16:56-08:00 January 22nd, 2020|Grief and Healing, Perspective|7 Comments

The loss of a loved one is tremendous. It is the greatest loss.  Yet, there are other, smaller but significant losses that often follow a person in grief. There is the common experience of a period of hibernation or withdrawal from normal social activities. But, bereavement sometimes changes our orientation to society altogether and without our permission. Widowers who used to find themselves often out with other couples may suddenly find themselves neglected. For many bereaved people company decreases or evaporates altogether. The truth is, it is hard work to grieve and it is hard to be with grievers - [...]

11 12, 2019

Should Holiday Traditions Change if Your Life has Changed?

By | 2019-12-11T23:23:11-08:00 December 11th, 2019|General, Grief and Healing|2 Comments

Holidays are celebrated and kept precious with traditions. In this constantly changing world, we cling to the comfort of something constant. So, losses often hit us the hardest in times of tradition. Suddenly, the way we've always done this is changed forever and it's devastating. What do we do when our tradition is broken by a death? Difficult decisions and thoughts swirl.   My husband died, will anyone remember to get ME a present this year? How do I even get out of bed Christmas morning without my child?  Mom always loved hosting New Years Eve - do we do [...]

20 11, 2019

When People Die During the Holidays: Brutal & Beautiful

By | 2019-11-20T23:48:11-08:00 November 20th, 2019|Grief and Healing|2 Comments

I was a week shy of being a year old when my grandpa died unexpectedly on Thanksgiving. While I don’t remember the tragedy of the day or his lovely, southern accent, Thanksgiving has always been a time when we’ve talked about him. Growing up, I have a vivid memory of my dad playing “Silent Night” from a Manheim Steamroller Christmas album over the stereo and finding my mom with tears in her eyes telling me that this song always made her think of her dad. It was an unspoken and informal way that my dad remembered my grandpa and my [...]

17 10, 2019

Claim Your Grief Space

By | 2019-10-14T20:12:58-07:00 October 17th, 2019|General|2 Comments

First of all, let me say that this "grief space" is going to look different for everyone. We all know there is no one-size-fits-all way to approach grieving (though it would be so nice if there was!), and so this process is something that will require you to consider ways that you process and incorporate change. We've all seen examples of unresolved grief on television - just watch any episode of Hoarders or Kitchen Nightmares. The horrific scenarios in these shows are often the result of a traumatic event or death in the person's past. Often, the loss was never [...]

9 09, 2019

Grief and the Need for Sacred Space

By | 2019-09-11T22:22:22-07:00 September 9th, 2019|Ceremonies, General|3 Comments

It seems impossible that 9/11 happened to us 18 years ago. EIGHTEEN years. To me, this is proof that time is in fact, not a healer, but a carrier. We are held and carried by time further and further away from the moment of anguish. I think this is as comforting as it is terrifying for a grieving person to comprehend. To move away from the day is to move away from "them".  And while distractions, acceptance and changed habits slowly move us into less-pain-filled-space, our grief will remain and our wound stays tender when touched. Grief requires a sacred [...]