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.

19 11, 2018

Grieving Through the Holidays

By | 2018-11-16T15:55:20+00:00 November 19th, 2018|General, Grief and Healing|3 Comments

Grieving Through the Holidays For so many families the holidays hold the promise of togetherness, familiarity, tradition and comfort. But for the grieving, every one of these words is shattered and opposed by new words like, apart, strange, broken and grieved. So what does this "grieving through the holidays" look like? Feel like? What are your expectations? Fears? Anxieties? Considering in advance what these holidays might be like for you can be one of the greatest helps to getting yourself through these days that feel emptied out of their usual joy.   Here are some things to consider in preparation: [...]

24 10, 2018

Making New Memories from the Old (Up-cycling & Great Gift Ideas!)

By | 2018-10-24T23:10:42+00:00 October 24th, 2018|General, Grief and Healing, Inspiration|0 Comments

One of the often unaddressed issues families face after a loved one dies, is what to keep and how to keep it? Often times we feel inclined to keep a LOT - sure we can donate some things or divvy them up amongst family - but the need to preserve and hold on is a part or phase of grieving for many people. Over time, as we begin to identify the items that hold the most meaning for us we can begin to alleviate ourselves of the less significant items. Eventually, these can be given away or donated without pain. [...]

19 09, 2018

How to Talk About Tough Things, Like Suicide

By | 2018-09-19T15:32:03+00:00 September 19th, 2018|General|1 Comment

Last month a church in southern California lost their senior pastor to suicide. A friend of mine asked if I had heard about Inland Hills in passing and then said, "oh nevermind, it's too sad. I don't wan't want to think about it." My first thought was a scandal of some kind, and I didn't investigate. Then, another friend shared something on Instagram that grabbed my attention. https://www.instagram.com/p/Bm9qbVNnTAB/?taken-by=inlandhills This stunned me. It is such a sad story. But it doesn't hide, mask, or mis-color what happened. The church did something it should always do; it told the truth.  I have [...]

29 08, 2018

Living in Light of the Boundary of Death: A Story of Land and Water

By | 2018-08-29T10:13:36+00:00 August 29th, 2018|General, Perspective|0 Comments

I recently read a new book called, With the End in Mind where the author, Kathryn Mannix, described at the end how she moves through life with hope and openness despite her daily job of sitting by deathbeds. She spoke about dying in a way I had never heard before - not dramatically or fearfully or even calmly, her words held conviction and peace. At the end of her book she writes that death is a "mandated temporal boundary that makes time and relationships priceless." And she is comforted by that. She goes on to say, "Awareness of the temporary essence [...]

16 07, 2018

What You Need to Know About Suicide

By | 2018-07-17T14:09:19+00:00 July 16th, 2018|General, Grief and Healing|1 Comment

Suicide is as difficult to talk or write about as it is to understand. Unless you've stepped foot on the moon you have no idea what the journey there, the landscape, and the feeling is like. In the days following the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain there were outpourings on social media supporting mental health awareness and educational information on suicide. On the flip side, there were also the expected responses using words like "selfish" that pronounced judgement on mental disorders that it seems are anything but selfish. Socially, we seem to be understanding that depression and anxiety [...]

14 06, 2018

Missing Your Dad on Father’s Day

By | 2018-06-13T23:38:45+00:00 June 14th, 2018|Grief and Healing, Inspiration, Parental Loss|0 Comments

Living intentionally with people is paramount to living well. I also believe intentionality is essential to grieving well. Father's Day hits a tender spot. Every year as I write posts about mothers and fathers I'm struck by the feeling of each day. Mother's Day feels pink and rosy, the prime of spring, and there's a fresh sweetness to it that just fits with the idea of celebrating our moms. Father's Day is at the cusp of glorious, adventure-filled summer and there's a nostalgia that comes with that of our days playing in the yard, family vacations and ice cold drinks. [...]

9 05, 2018

Intentionally Commemorating Mother’s Day

By | 2018-05-09T18:56:21+00:00 May 9th, 2018|Ceremonies, General, Grief and Healing|0 Comments

Whether this is your first Mother's Day as a bereaved person or your 50th, Mother's Day brings all of us pause. As we take time to think about our own mothers or perhaps the children we are missing that made us mothers - it's important that we be present with the reality of those relationships. If you can be with your mom and your children are well - you should freely have the full joy of this day. Take pictures, speak from your heart, and try to make clear memories of the sweetness of health and family. If your relationships [...]

17 04, 2018

Making Meaning by Donating Life: Register to Donate

By | 2018-04-17T10:07:21+00:00 April 17th, 2018|General|0 Comments

A friend of mine shared that April is National Donate Life Month and pointed the way to the Donate Life Registry page. I registered. It felt so right and good to register myself as an organ and tissue donor. I was surprised at myself for not having done this before because I believe it is incredible. Organ and tissue donation is something we see regularly at the mortuary and I've always been so moved by the choice to donate in the ultimate way. I took this photo at the OC Coroner's office a few years ago, the mural is depicting [...]

27 03, 2018

Making Sense of God and Death

By | 2018-03-27T23:42:09+00:00 March 27th, 2018|General, Grief and Healing|2 Comments

I have written and re-written this post so many ways. I don't know why it's so difficult to talk about God and Death - perhaps it's because so few people do. They are HUGE subjects for a small 600-word blog to tackle, but I think the real challenge I have in writing about them is that God and death don't lend themselves to tame, easy answers I can layout in bullet points. They are uncontrolled. So, what am I writing about? Well, for the first time in my life I heard a lecture that discussed God and death and, though [...]

27 02, 2018

Should Funerals Be Honest?

By | 2018-02-25T21:38:40+00:00 February 27th, 2018|General|7 Comments

Should Funerals Be Honest?   A couple of days ago marked 4 years since I went through the training to become a Certified Celebrant with the Insight Institute. It was a perspective-altering experience that brought up a lot of uncertainty and discomfort with the way I had always seen funerals done. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Don’t speak ill of the dead,” a wise and kind principal, but an old and superstitious one too. This idea combined with our cultural avoidance of reality when it comes to unfixable pain, often resolves in nothing really true being said about a person at [...]