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.

16 07, 2018

What You Need to Know About Suicide

By | 2018-07-17T14:09:19-07:00 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 | 2018-06-13T23:38:45-07:00 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 | 2018-05-09T18:56:21-07:00 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 | 2018-04-17T10:07:21-07:00 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 | 2018-03-27T23:42:09-07:00 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 | 2018-02-25T21:38:40-07:00 February 27th, 2018|General|8 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 [...]

30 01, 2018

Life Lessons from My Mentor, Patricia Kolstad

By | 2018-01-30T12:34:31-07:00 January 30th, 2018|General|6 Comments

my mentor & friend THE (famous) HAIR Well, she FINALLY, and ACTUALLY retired. After 25 years Patricia Kolstad has found a new, brilliant and lovely chapter in her life - unexpected, unlooked for, and completely deserved. She has been "Aunt Pat" to me for as long as I can remember and over the years has truly become a valued mentor in my life. This blog is a small tribute to the extraordinary career of Patricia Kolstad and a guide for the kind of mentor we should seek to be and seek to have in our own lives. Mentors [...]

16 11, 2017

Talking with the Dead

By | 2018-01-31T09:16:33-07:00 November 16th, 2017|Community, Inspiration, News|0 Comments

I have learned so much from grieving people and I continue to be amazed at the creative, meaningful, and symbolic rituals they take on in the journey of missing their loved one. Recently, I came across a story deeply grabbed my heart and that I am so thankful I listened to. From the podcast, This American Life, I listened to Episode #597, "One Last Thing Before I Go." To paraphrase the story for you, in Japan a man's cousin died. Desiring an outlet for his grief, he found an old phone booth and installed it in his yard. The phone was old, [...]

18 10, 2017

Why We Should All Celebrate The Day of the Dead

By | 2017-10-18T22:59:28-07:00 October 18th, 2017|News|0 Comments

Why we should all celebrate the day of the dead // What do you do throughout the year to honor people in your family who have died? Do you mark their birthday? Deathiversary (yes, that’s a thing)? Do you gather together with others to remember and share the love that person? Maybe you do, maybe you did something like this for the 1st year of life without them – but I would venture to say that you don't and that generally, American culture is more comfortable pretending these days don’t need permanence in our calendar. Disney/Pixar has captured my attention [...]

31 08, 2017

The Compounded Grief of Premature Deaths

By | 2017-08-31T06:43:25-07:00 August 31st, 2017|Child Loss, News, Perspective, Seasons of Life|0 Comments

There are no easy deaths - there are no situations where the grief experience isn't difficult, complex, and sad. That said, there is a generally accepted threshold where lives are deemed as having been "lived, good and long." When 90 year olds die, we grieve but we do not grapple with a sense of injustice. But there are some (too many) deaths that are non-sensical, tragic, and far too soon. I think of the anniversary of 9/11 and the tradition of reading of the names of those that died - it gives me chills every time and is a witness [...]