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Woman hosts 'living funeral' for her dying sister and calls the experience 'magical'

“I would describe it as an exclamation point at the end of a sentence. The sentence of her life."

funerals, living funerals, death, creative funerals
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Living funerals can provide closure and comfort.

What do you do when you or a loved one becomes terminally ill? When the inescapable end all but sends a morbid telegram announcing its arrival? Do you "go gentle into that good night," filling the final days with solemn reverence and aching nostalgia? Or do you go out with a bang, choosing instead to savor whatever else life still has to offer?

For Heidi Satterthwaite, the choice was obvious.

Her sister, Jenna Satterthwaite, shared on BBC’s “Woman’s Hour” that Heidi had been diagnosed with a rare type of cancer known as myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), which occurs when blood-forming cells found in bone marrow are abnormal, back in 2018.

Before her death, Heidi made a heartfelt request to her sister—that they throw a party with all of their family and friends.


Jenna was happy to fulfill her sister’s wish and began sending out invitations. To their surprise, 200 people showed up, many traveling long distances and canceling plans to show up and say their goodbyes.

The “massive event” was very akin to a wedding, Jenna recalled, filled with the merriment of dancing, an “explosive playlist,” heartfelt speech and catered food. Heidi and her husband even closed out the night by dancing to the same song they danced at for their own wedding.

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Heidi Satterthwaite dancing her heart out

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“It was just this magical and pain-filled celebration of her life,” Jenna told BBC. “I would describe it as an exclamation point at the end of a sentence. The sentence of her life.”

After Heidi’s death, Jenna took to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, to share a touching poem titled “Advice for the Dying,” created in part to encourage others with “the curse of advance notice,” to host a party, not a funeral, because funerals aren’t as “fun.”

As Alexandra Keeler, contributor for Big Think, brilliantly lays out, the concept of “living funerals” might not exactly be mainstream, but it has been around for a long time. Though the exact origins are unknown, living funerals have historical roots both in indigenous and ancient Japanese cultures, who would use the tradition to gain closure, make amends, show respect and generally provide ease of passage.

The idea was also incorporated in Mitch Albom’s popular “Tuesdays with Morrie.” As Morrie reflects on his colleague’s passing, he says, “What a waste. All those people saying all those wonderful things, and Irv never got to hear any of it.” So Morrie decides to gather a small group of friends and family to honor their beloved Irv.

As religion takes on less significance for many, it’s not surprising that more and more people are taking an interest in creating their own customized rituals for saying goodbye, whether that’s trading the formality for more festive, personal traditions during the funeral itself, or conducting a living funeral that allows the ailing person (and the ones they’ll leave behind) some measure of autonomy and joy during an otherwise bleak and gloomy situation.

For Jenna, giving Heidi a living funeral “was a moment to pause and acknowledge a beautiful life.”

"We don’t do that often. We’re bad at celebrating. We’re always looking to the next thing and shifting goalposts,” she said. “So it was really special to come together and kind of close that sentence as a group and say, ‘This was her life, she lived it well.’ Exclamation point.”

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"She was the best person I’ve ever known ."

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It’s no easy task to say goodbye to a loved one, but choosing to make it an event can be helpful for everyone.

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10 anti-holiday recipes that prove the season can be tasty and healthy

Balance out heavy holiday eating with some lighter—but still delicious—fare.

Albertson's

Lighten your calorie load with some delicious, nutritious food between big holiday meals.

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The holiday season has arrived with its cozy vibe, joyous celebrations and inevitable indulgences. From Thanksgiving feasts to Christmas cookie exchanges to Aunt Eva’s irresistible jelly donuts—not to mention leftover Halloween candy still lingering—fall and winter can feel like a non-stop gorge fest.

Total resistance is fairly futile—let’s be real—so it’s helpful to arm yourself with ways to mitigate the effects of eating-all-the-things around the holidays. Serving smaller amounts of rich, celebratory foods and focusing on slowly savoring the taste is one way. Another is to counteract those holiday calorie-bomb meals with some lighter fare in between.

Contrary to popular belief, eating “light” doesn’t have to be tasteless, boring or unsatisfying. And contrary to common practice, meals don’t have to fill an entire plate—especially when we’re trying to balance out heavy holiday eating.

It is possible to enjoy the bounties of the season while maintaining a healthy balance. Whether you prefer to eat low-carb or plant-based or gluten-free or everything under the sun, we’ve got you covered with these 10 easy, low-calorie meals from across the dietary spectrum.

Each of these recipes has less than 600 calories (most a lot less) per serving and can be made in less than 30 minutes. And Albertsons has made it easy to find O Organics® ingredients you can put right in your shopping cart to make prepping these meals even simpler.

Enjoy!

eggs and green veggies in a skillet, plate of baconNot quite green eggs and ham, but closeAlbertsons

Breakfast Skillet of Greens, Eggs & Ham

273 calories | 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 (5 oz) pkg baby spinach

2 eggs

1 clove garlic

4 slices prosciutto

1/2 medium yellow onion

1 medium zucchini squash

1/8 cup butter, unsalted

1 pinch crushed red pepper

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

bow of cauliflower ham saladGet your cauliflower power on.Albertsons

Creamy Cauliflower Salad with Ham, Celery & Dill

345 calories | 20 minutes

1/2 medium head cauliflower

1 stick celery

1/4 small bunch fresh dill

8 oz. ham steak, boneless

1/2 shallot

1/4 tspblack pepper

1/4 tsp curry powder

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp garlic powder

3 Tbsp mayonnaise

1/8 tsp paprika

2 tsp red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

tofu on skewers on a plate with coleslawPlant-based food fan? This combo looks yums. Albertsons

Grilled Chili Tofu Skewers with Ranch Cabbage, Apple & Cucumber Slaw

568 calories | 20 minutes

1 avocado

1/2 English cucumber

1 (12 oz.) package extra firm tofu

1 Granny Smith apple

3 Tbsp (45 ml) Ranch dressing

1/2 (14 oz bag) shredded cabbage (coleslaw mix)

2 tsp chili powder

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

frittata in a cast iron skilletSometimes you just gotta frittata.Albertsons

Bell Pepper, Olive & Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata with Parmesan

513 calories | 25 minutes

6 eggs

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted

2 oz Parmesan cheese

1 red bell pepper

1/2 medium red onion

8 sundried tomatoes, oil-packed

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

plate with slices of grilled chicken and a caprese saladCaprese, if you please.Albertsons

Balsamic Grilled Chicken with Classic Caprese Salad

509 calories | 25 minutes

3/4 lb chicken breasts, boneless skinless

1/2 small pkg fresh basil

1/2 (8 oz pkg) fresh mozzarella cheese

1 clove garlic

3 tomatoes

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

4 3/4 pinches black pepper

1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

3/4 tsp salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

four stuffed mushrooms on a plateThese mushrooms look positively poppable.Albertsons

Warm Goat Cheese, Parmesan & Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Mushrooms

187 calories | 35 minutes

1/2 lb cremini mushrooms

1 clove garlic

1/2 (4 oz) log goat cheese

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

2 sundried tomatoes, oil-packed

1 1/4 pinches crushed red pepper

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp Italian seasoning

2 pinches salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

plate with open English muffin with goat cheese and sliced baby tomatoes on topMove over, avocado toast. English muffin pizzas have arrived.Albertsons

English Muffin Pizzas with Basil Pesto, Goat Cheese & Tomatoes

327 calories | 10 minutes

3 Tbsp (45 ml) basil pesto

2 English muffins

1/2 (4 oz) log goat cheese

1/2 pint grape tomatoes

3/4 pinch black pepper

2 pinches salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

pita pocket on a plate filled with veggies, meat and cheeseThis pita pocket packs a colorful punch.Albertsons

Warm Pita Pocket with Turkey, Cheddar, Roasted Red Peppers & Parsley

313 calories | 20 minutes

1/4 (8 oz) block cheddar cheese

1/2 bunch Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

4 oz oven roasted turkey breast, sliced

1/2 (12 oz) jar roasted red bell peppers

1 whole grain pita

3/4 pinch black pepper

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp mayonnaise

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

plate with toast smeared with avocado and topped with prosciuttoDid we say, "Move over, avocado toast?" What we meant was "Throw some prosciutto on it!" Albertsons

Avocado Toast with Crispy Prosciutto

283 calories | 10 minutes

1 avocado

2 slices prosciutto

2 slices whole grain bread

1 5/8 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp onion powder

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

bowl of chili with cheese and green onions on topVegetarian chili with a fall twistAlbertsons

Black Bean & Pumpkin Chili with Cheddar

444 calories | 30 minutes

2 (15 oz can) black beans

1/2 (8 oz ) block cheddar cheese

2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

2 green bell peppers

1 small bunch green onions (scallions)

1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin purée

1 medium yellow onion

1/2 tsp black pepper

5 7/8 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp cumin, ground

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

For more delicious and nutritious recipes, visit albertsons.com/recipes.

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