Volunteer Profile: Holly Pruett

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Holly Pruett, Life-Cycle Celebrant, is co-founder and primary organizer of PDX Death Cafe, a sponsor of Death:OK, and chair of our steering committee.

Recently we had the opportunity to ask Holly Pruett, our Steering Committee Chair and Programming Committee Co-Chair, some intriguing questions. Holly brings 30 years of experience as a community and political organizer, non-profit executive director and consultant to her volunteer role with Death:OK. She has been a tireless driving force in bringing this day of inspiration, information and connection to life. Currently a Life-Cycle Celebrant and Home Funeral Guide, Holly works with individuals, families, and communities to create unique, personalized ceremonies from cradle to grave.

Q: What compels you to dedicate so much of your time and energy to creating a public discourse around dying and death? 

A: When my Dad died of brain cancer just shy of his 65th birthday he was clear: no funeral. I’ve come to see his wishes as symptomatic of a culture that’s lost the capacity to mourn and remember. I’m passionate about rebuilding those skills.

Q: When someone asks you why you talk about death, how do you answer? 

A: What I said above. And: to get ready for my death and the deaths of everybody I love. Plus, it’s so rewarding – it’s a topic that fosters the kind of real conversation and connection that so many of us crave in this sound bite age.

Q: Is there a film that you consider to be “required viewing” for exploring dying and death through cinema? 

A: As a student enrolled in Stephen Jenkinson’s Orphan Wisdom School, I’d have to say Griefwalker, the documentary featuring his provocative take on “how things are” and “how it all could be”.

Q: What song(s) would you want played at your memorial?

A: Jimmy Cliff’s Many Rivers to Cross, Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’, Bonnie Raitt’s That Song About the Midway.

Q: Do you read obituaries? Can you recall one that has particularly touched you? 

A: Yep, I love to read well-done obituaries. The one that inspired me most recently was written for a memorial service I officiated by the wife of the deceased. She painted such a vivid portrait that I felt uplifted by a man I knew only through memory. Feeling touched by the life of a man I never met in person reinforces my sense of connection and goodness in the world.

Q: If you were to cook a meal for your ancestors what would be on the menu? 

A: Cioppino and flourless chestnut cake.

Big thanks to Holly for taking the time to share her stories with us!  Do you have more questions for Holly or any of the other organizers please email us at DeathOKMarketing@gmail.com or post them to our Facebook Page.

Learn more about our the rest of our volunteer steering committee and sign up to join us as a volunteer!

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