Boston Death Salon 2018 Summary


Day 1

There are only a few talks the first day.  One on natural burial at Mount Auburn Cemetry and how they are preserving the integrity of the original Victorians while being innovated in the burying front.  It was fascinating to see a lowering device for the shrouded bodies.

The next speaker was Colin Dickey the Author of Ghostland, which I was able to speak to him later and get him to sign my book which was fun!  He discussed

The third was a basic Q&A on cremation.  This again was put into perspective into keeping with the times and Victorians at the cemetery.

There was also a speaker by the cemetery’s resident playwright, and simple play reading.

After was a tour of the cemetery where we talked about the symbolize of the graves over time.  Some of my favorite symbols were the lilies for purity and Christ,  harvested wheat for an older person to show a life well lived, a stump for a life cut short, and an hourglass with wings to show that time flies.

After the tour, I met Caitlin Doughty who was lovely and I got a picture with her this year along with her signing a book for my family.

Too bad it is a terrible photo but oh well worth it.

That night was a talk on Edward Gorey who I am now a huge fan of! I’m looking forward to reading his biography.

Day 2

Now there were so many good talks I am not sure where to begin.

I can only cover a few so here are highlights of my favorites.

There were two great talks one on Black Cemeteries and how they were a way of giving dignity to the dead.  There was also a Feminism and Death talk that stressed the importance of women in the death industry.

However one of my favorite talks that day was an interview with the funeral director Peter Stephen.  It was all about taking care of the bodies of the unclaimed and unwanted dead.  He was the one who gave the Boston Bomber a funeral when no one else wanted to.  This was a powerful discussion about dignity in death.

Michael Dowling talked about his project the Medicine Wheel.  He talked about many of the powerful experiences he had with the family and friends of Aid victims.  He shared that art is a beautiful way to deal with and confront grief.

The last panel of the day was full of people who are fighting the conventional funeral business.  My favorite was a Muslim funeral director who explained what a Muslim burial and funeral is supposed to be.  He really encouraged all of us there to band together to better support each other and bring changes to the funeral industry.

Day 3

The day started with a mindfulness exercise and then walk through the Cemetary both were very grounding and eye-opening.

Then was a movement and death exercise.  This was done by a dance teacher who had us do movements that let out grief and mimicked our surrounding and each other. It was fun but at the same time, I was close to tears because it was so powerful.

Next began the talks the ones I enjoyed the most were about children and death.  How they should be exposed to it and that they need to grief in their own way.

Then there was one on holding doctors accountable for telling people when they are truly dying and not lying to them.   This will make it easier on patients and doctors when discussing treatment.

There was also a talk on gravestone symbolism that was fascinating.

However, the best part of the conference was the speech at the end that was a rallying cry to all there that we are activists that can make a  difference.  It really lit a fire in my heart that I am doing the right thing.

Please comment any questions or comments.  Again for more fun pictures and more about the travel side visit

Until the next time, From stardust, you are made and to startdust, you will return.



A Taste of Death


So hopefully tomorrow I will have a post up about Boston Death Salon and some of the things I have learned.  For now, enjoy this poor quality video I did for facebook about my travels.


A Remembrance of Things Past

Cultural Practices, Death Positivity, Death Salon- Settle


So, over a year ago I attended the Settle Death Salon.  It was such an incredible experience.  Luckily, I took notes.  I’m going to focus on the death experience if you want a look at a more in-depth travel version look for my travel blog Sonder Wander.

So just to give you a taste of my excitement this was my first journal entry

“Seattle here I come! Going to the Seattle death Salon! I am so excited 🙂

I hope to:

  1. To make one good friend
  2. Talk to a death doula
  3. *Meet Caitlin Doughty <3 My hero!

I leave from Syracuse now will keep up dated nervous but elated. ”

I ended up so excited I ended up there a day early, silly me.  I bide my time until the conference the next day.

The set up was in a building on Washington University campus.  It felt like it was lecture hall of some sort.  Luck had me meet a mother and daughter at my hotel.  We sat together about halfway up on the right-hand side.  We had a great view of the speakers throughout the conference.   Also, it was extra cool because the conference was illustrated live by Silent James.   He had a large canvas in front of him that he would draw on as the speakers spoke.  At the end I will include some pictures I got.

Now there were so many good speakers I can’t possibly talk about them all and summarize there talks so I will just highlight a few of the best.


There were many great speakers but my favorite and most memorable were

Sarah Chavez who talked about death and women.  She highlighted the history of women and treating the dead.   She talked about the shift that came when the death industry came along, and it became a man’s game.  Now it is an act of feminism for women to take care of the dead.

Channel Reynolds was next and talked about having everything together before you go.  She detailed the Legal and the emotional sides of preparing for death and the importance of keeping it updated.

Lunch came after a few other speakers and it was a round table discussion about death and death doula’s and helping people to die and I had a really good side talk with one of the women about compassion when using the term, you are in my prayers.  I will hopefully make a fuller post on this topic.

Also, after lunch I met CAITLIN DOUGHTY!!!  Who talked to me signed my book plates and GAVE ME A HUG!  One of the best experiences of my life.

Then came Taryn Lindahorst who talked about how we are so separated from death and dying that we are now afraid of it instead of embracing it.  It is seen as weakness to die instead of being natural.

Caitlin Doughty then spoke about death and pets and the reality behind pet death.  She also spoke of some funny stories about riots that were thrown about cats being buried in the same cemetery as humans.

I had not purchased the $50 ticket for the cocktail fundraiser, but I got to talking to someone who had and didn’t want it, so she gave it to me!

The cocktail party was fun because Paul Koudounaris talked about pet cemeteries locations and how they are hidden and disappear so quickly he also told many wonderful stories.  I talked to a woman about becoming a death doula and she was fascinating.


Then I heard from the woman I talked to during lunch the day before Megan Devine.  She discussed being ok with not being ok about death.  She shared a personal story about the death of her husband.  And how she had not been as ready for it as she thought.  She taught that grief is not a problem to be solved.

Peggie Dickens shared the importance of theater and how it opens conversations about death.

Brian Flowers explained what a green burial is really like and shared touching stories about his green cemetery.  It was fascinating to learn more about the impacts of a “normal” burial verses a natural burial.  It was so overwhelmingly heartwarming.

During that day’s lunch we had a good discussion about death and the death positive community, but I forgot to take good notes.

Then I went home and died from exhausted.  Not only did I make all my goals but I had a fantastic time!  Thank you to all the creators speakers and hosts!

Please comment questions if you have any!  Also, there will be much more information on my travel blog so check it out.  And look for my next post coming soon about the next Death Salon in Boston!


Hey! It’s been a year what have you been up to?

Death Positivity, Uncategorized

Welcome back to Stardust Returns, it is a pleasure to see you still follow or maybe you are new? Either way welcome! I have not been here in over a year and my efforts and passion has not dimmed but grown. But I have gone through some major life changes and just have not been putting my time here but that will soon be changing. As I did last year I will be attending a Death Salon. Hopefully my next post will be about last year’s experience. Then there will also be a new

post after I attend the next Death Salon. This year is a new beginning (kind of like death!) And hopefully I will be writing more and even continue my podcast please comment, ask questions, and feedback in the comment section.

Until then from stardust you are made and to stardust you will return


Confronting Mortality: Episode 3 Culture of Cremation

cremation, Cultural Practices, Death Positivity, Eastern Culture, Uncategorized

Today’s episode will focus on cremation.  Specifically comparing Western and Eastern cultures.  Enjoy!

Resources  Used:

Ashes to ashes. (2012, October 31). Retrieved September 04, 2017, from
Australian Museum. (n.d.). Retrieved September 04, 2017, from
Buddhism and Cremation. (2017, March 22). Retrieved September 04, 2017, from
Cooper-White, M. (2014, August 13). Cremation Is More Popular Than Ever, And Here’s Why (INFOGRAPHIC). Retrieved September 04, 2017, from
Death and Dying. (n.d.). Retrieved September 04, 2017, from
How much does it cost to die in cities around the world? (2015, November 20). Retrieved September 04, 2017, from
List of countries by cremation rate. (2017, August 25). Retrieved September 04, 2017, from
Rilke, Rainer Maria “Buddha in Glory.”
Music Used:
Eastern Thought Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
Bensound-of eliasdream
Writing, editing, performance: Kira Hyde
Producer: Christopher Hyde

An Update on Podcast and Death Conference

Cultural Practices, Death Positivity

This week I will premiere the third episode of Confronting Mortality!  I will take a look at cremations in different cultures and the death positivity impacts they have.

I also thought I would give a heads up that I am planning on attending the Seattle Death Salon (see information below).  I am very excited about this opportunity to gather with others who feel the same way about death positivity.  After this weekend I will review the conference in a fuller blog post (hopefully with lots of fun pictures!)

Until then from stardust, you are made and to stardust, you will return.

Death Salon Seattle (2017)


Confronting Mortality: Episode 2 Victorians

Cultural Practices, Death Positivity, Mourning Jewlery, Victorians

For today’s episode, I focus mainly on the Victorians and how they mourned and how we can learn from them.

Here it is episode two!


“Mourning Jewellery in White.” Art of Mourning – Est 2005

“House of Mourning – Victorian Mourning & Funeral Customs in the 1890s.” VICTORIANA MAGAZINE

“Was All Black Victorian Jewelry Meant for Mourning?” The Spruce

Evans, Professor Eric. “History – Overview: Victorian Britain, 1837 – 1901.” BBC, BBC, 29 Mar. 2011

For modern day mourning jewelry see:

The Modern Mourner

Madame Fourtuna

Angela Kirkpatrick

 “What sex was to the Victorians, death is to us.

John Durham Peters:
Speaking into the Air: A History of the Idea of Communication


Writer, Edited, Performed: Kira Hyde
Christopher Hyde
Music Used:
Opening, Interlude, and closing – The Spirit of Russian Love by Zinaida Trokai




A Preview for Episode Two


For the next episode of Confronting Mortality, I’ll be discussing the Victorians and how they mourn.

As part of that, I thought I’d share some of my own Victorian jewelry!

The first two are replicates of what would have been worn during mourning.

Or well half mourning more about that later  : )



Now here is some genuine Victorian Hair Jewelry!


And Back! I believe the initials are MAB.

Come back next Wednesday for more on the Victorians and their peculiar jewelry!

All Photo Credit to the Talented and Lovely Brynn Hyde.


Confronting Mortality: Episode 1 Death Positivity


Here is the first episode of my podcast!   It introduces more in depth what I’m planning on doing and why.

Resources Used and Articles to read:

  • Dickinson, Emily. “Because I Could Not Stop for Death (479).” Academy of American Poets, 05 July 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.
  • Doughty, Caitlin. “Death Positive.” The Order of the Good Death. N.p., 2017. Web. 16 July 2017.
  • Gawande, Atul. Being Mortal. Toronto, Ontario: Anchor Canada, 2017. Print.
  • McBride, Nuri. “5 Ways to Join the Death Positivity Movement.” Offbeat Home & Life. N.p., 28 Mar. 2016. Web. 16 July 2017.
  • Ortiz, Jen. “Meet the Women Who Love Death.” Marie Claire. N.p., 14 June            2017. Web. 16 July 2017.


Producer- Christopher Hyde

Music-Opening: “Intrepid” by Kevin MacLeod

Interlude and Ending: “Of Elias Dream” by Bensound

Writer, editor, performer- Kira Hyde


A Podcast! Introducing Confronting Mortality


It’s here it’s here! After much hard work, my first podcast episode of Confronting Mortality is almost here.

It contains thoughts on death positivity and where I hope this journey will take me.   Please join by listening this Wednesday,  August 2!