Memorial Songs: “Changes” Cover by Seu Jorge

The Brazilian artist brings new life to Bowie's classic, bringing it all the tenderness of a perfect memorial song
Seu Jorge, Seu Jorge picture, memorial songs, Bowie covers

Seu Jorge.
(credit: Brasil Summerfest)

David Bowie’s 1972 song “Changes” is a rock classic. It’s merited many covers since its debut, but none have proved as moving or intimate as that of Brazilian artist Seu Jorge – none have ever stricken us as a potential memorial song. But Jorge’s cover was made for a bittersweet, reflective moment. Bowie himself even said that if “Seu Jorge had not recorded my songs, I would never have heard this new level of beauty which he has imbued them with.”

Initially, Jorge’s “Changes” was made for the 2004 Wes Anderson film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. The choice to sing in Portuguese works with sweet effortlessness (even if the lyrics don’t always translate perfectly). There’s also something to be said for his choice to create an acoustic cover. The guitar creates a quiet strength, highlighting the pensive nature of Bowie’s lyrics (which would normally be overshadowed by a faster rhythm):

Strange fascination, fascinating me/
Changes are taking the pace/
I’m going through

Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older/
Time may change me/
But I can’t trace time/
I said that time may change me/
But I can’t trace time

Change. It’s the song’s central theme, which explores the frustration and anger that accompanies the loss of time—perhaps of a loved one, too:

I watch the ripples change their size/
But never leave the stream/
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes.

The lyrics take on a cathartic relevance when seen through the eyes of one who is grieving. Time becomes a strange thing when a loved one dies. One day, it can lump the hours and minutes together into a surreal, numb atmosphere that pervades everything – making “the days float through” the week (as Bowie writes and Jorge coos).

Yet, there is a firm confidence in the refrain “time may change me/ but I can’t trace time.” We can’t help the fact that time will change us through inevitable losses and alterations. Nor can we undo those losses through constantly tracing time. You can’t change change — it’s something we have to go through together, in “strange fascination.” And that’s one realization with memorial song material.

Read all of the lyrics here.

Check out more memorial music here.

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Monday Hearts for Madalene

Page Hodel creates the most beautiful hearts in an ongoing celebration of love

_MG_1821_2_2The Fun of a Holiday Coming

It’s an honor for SevenPonds to share with our readers the story of the Monday Hearts for Madalene project, a true account of the power of love in the midst of death.

The project’s origins take us to 2005: the moment Page Hodel encountered Madalene Rodriguez and fell “instantly, dizzyingly in love with her.” The couple’s first meeting was electric, and Page felt inspired to do something unique for the woman who captured her heart. So, she began leaving handmade hearts – made from flowers, leaves, and other materials – on Madalene’s doorstep.  The hearts became a ritual, and they were there to greet Madalene as she left for work every Monday.

“To start her week with a visual reminder of our beautiful love.” – Page Hodel

Just seven months later, Madalene was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and passed away on June 20th, 2006. But Page’s love for her hasn’t ceased, and she continues to make a heart for her every Monday in celebration of her life.

If you would like, you can also receive Page’s “Monday Hearts for Madalene” by emailing her at page.hodel@gmail.com with “subscribe” written as the subject. Images of the hearts can also be purchased on individual cards and in her beautifully compiled book, Monday Hearts for Madelene. Please also visit her website and Facebook  page. A portion of all sales will go to the Women’s Cancer Resource Center in Oakland, California (www.wcrc.org).

See more Monday Hearts for Madalene here.

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“But You Didn’t” by Merrill Glass

Merrill Glass’s poem about losing her lover to war reminds us the importance of openly sharing your feelings for the one you love when you’re together, because the future can be so uncertain.
couple kissing silhouette in sunset, lovers, everlasting love

Credit: strawberryindigo.wordpress.com

The death of a lover is difficult regardless of whether it is expected, as is the case with long-term illnesses, or if it is sudden, as is the case with a car crash or a major heart attack. The uncertainty of the future can leave those who have planned everything for a major life crisis to instead become quite shaken up by the crushing and challenging process of grief.

The first three stanzas of Merrill Glass’s “But You Didn’t” commence with the speaker innocently asking her lover a series of “Remember when…” questions that stem from memories of incidents in the couple’s past and what she thought would happen. The speaker concludes by saying, “But you didn’t.” This series of “remember when” questions highlight what the speaker thought her lover would do—everything from hating her to dumping her—yet he surprises her by not doing so, hence the revelation, “but you didn’t.”

These difficult memories prepare the reader for the twist at the end of the last stanza, which reminds us of how important it is to openly communicate with those we love because we never know what the future holds.

The repetition of the beginning and ending of these three stanzas demonstrates Glass’s method of the grieving process. She states her memories of these difficult moments where she thought she would lose her lover for good. Instead, he remained committed to her regardless of how often she pushed his buttons. These difficult memories prepare the reader for the twist at the end of the last stanza, which reminds us of how important it is to openly communicate with those we love because we never know what the future holds.

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Credit: PublicDomainPictures.net

Glass opens the final stanza with “There were plenty of things you did to put up with me, to keep me happy, to love me,” which piques the reader’s interest into how the relationship ended when the speaker’s lover seemed so loyal. The speaker then confesses that “there are/so many things I wanted to tell you when you returned from/Vietnam…/But you didn’t.” The final “but you didn’t” clarifies the meaning of the poem as a whole. The memories and nostalgia the speaker shares about her lover are the speaker’s way of processing her grief over not having a future with the lover she lost. Grieving reminds us to cherish the love and relationships in our lives while we can because life can be so unpredictable.

This beautiful poem reminds us that writing when dealing with loss and grief can be a very therapeutic way to sort out emotions and to learn to cope with not being able to rely on and share everything with the person you have grown the closest to—in this case, a lover.

This beautiful poem reminds us that writing when dealing with loss and grief can be a very therapeutic way to sort out emotions and to learn to cope with not being able to rely on and share everything with the person you have grown the closest to—in this case, a lover. Writing allows us to delve deeper into ourselves and hopefully learn how to better prioritize the importance of relishing and sharing with the people we love most in our lives before it is too late.

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Fighting in Style: The Evolution of Breast Cancer Awareness Merchandise

Cancer survivor Allison W. Gryphon and designer Piper Gore don't want cancer fighters to compromise style
Breast Cancer T-shirt, Allison Gryphon, Piper Gore, Breast cancer, Cancer clothing

Piper Gore (left) and Allison W. Gryphon.
(credit: The Why Foundation)

When Allison W. Gryphon was diagnosed with breast cancer, she knew she would have to adjust to major lifestyle changes – but compromising her style was not up for question. She collaborated with designer Piper Gore to create the “Fighter T,” a shirt that is changing our expectations for the cancer awareness merchandise that abounds today.

Allison W. Gryphon, Allison Gryphon, Piper Gore, Breast Cancer T-Shirt

Credit: thefightert.com

There’s nothing wrong with the ‘go pink’ breast cancer mantra. For many, it provides a sense of community and strength. But Gryphon did not want to wear her illness (literally) on her sleeve; she did not want to feel as if her illness was defining her. Why couldn’t she have clothing that she would want to wear during and after the treatment process? She explained why one’s self-confidence, as gathered through personal style, shouldn’t be written off:

Allison W. Gryphon, Allison Gryphon, Piper Gore, Breast Cancer T-Shirt

Credit: The Why Foundation

“Appearance was a big part of it. As a woman who was facing losing a breast and all of the hair on my body, it was important to my emotional state to feel good about how I looked. On the one hand, it seemed crazy to be thinking about fashion while my life was on the line, but on the other it seemed even crazier not to. Breasts are a representation of femininity and of being a woman, and so is how we wear our hair. Every morning putting myself together with personal style helped me prepare for the fight. It was part of my armor.”

“Why couldn’t she have clothing that she would want to wear during and after the treatment process?”

“It was one thing,” she said, “that cancer did not get to take away” from her. That’s how the Fighter Line began to take shape. Gryphon and Gore worked together to create an inspiring, personalized product. “[My style is] easy. Mellow. Pulled together but not too seriously,” says Gore. The “Fighter T” she helped design has all of those elements. In addition to those that speak to the experience of going through surgery and recovery, the fabrics are breathable and the front zipper makes it easy to get on and off. The sleeves “roll up easily,” and, in colors like charcoal grey and orange crush, can be dressed up or down.

Allison W. Gryphon, Allison Gryphon, Piper Gore, Breast Cancer T-Shirt

Credit: thefightert.com

Throw in the fact that their work is also 100% sustainable and non-profit and you’ve got a very exciting thing: a movement unfolding in a t-shirt. A piece of clothing that doesn’t fixate on your illness but on your vitality.

In 2015, you can look forward to an entire fashion line. For now, check out their website (below) for prices and more information.

You may enjoy:

  • Visit the Fighting Cancer with Fashion website here.
  • Our article: “One Man’s Photography of his Wife’s Battle Against Cancer”
  • The Busting Cancer Project: Australian women and The GroundSwell Project launch an intimate, powerful art workshop for cancer awareness

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Our Weekly Tip: Memorial Photo Album

Rethink the traditional photo album by creating a beautiful memorial album for a loved one
Family photo album, photo album, family photo, memory book

Credit: artifactuprising.com

Our Tip of the Week: We’ve all experienced it. You’ll be dusting the impossible reaches of your bookshelf as it catches your eye: the old family photo album. It’s a bit of a relic — you probably only flip through it a few times a year — but it can send you back to your fondest memories. It’s a way to be with those we love and especially those who have passed away — precisely why we’re suggesting it as the perfect memorial gift.

A photo album of a loved one who has passed isn’t an uncommon memorial object. That’s where the way you incorporate it into your home comes in. Instead of tucking the album into a drawer or shelf, as it often is, consider highlighting it as a coffee table book or placing it in you children’s bedroom. It’s another subtle way to destigmatize death and loss by bringing it into your active life.

How-to Suggestion: Let websites like Milkbooks.com help you create the perfect memorial album. Think about where you want to place it in your home, and don’t be shy when it comes to presentation options (ex. repurpose that old cookbook stand!).

More Tips: Explore more of SevenPonds’ memorial resources through our memorial planning guide and explore other end of life tips through our Practical Tips column.

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What is a Soul Midwife? An Interview with Felicity Warner: Part One

In a two-part interview, Felicity Warner of Soul Midwives explains what it means to help someone explore and experience — even enjoy — their dying process

Today SevenPonds speaks with Felicity Warner, the mind behind Soul Midwives, a service that has helped pioneer the movement towards holistic and spiritual palliative care. As the founder of the Soul Midwives School, she trains others who wish to become “holistic and spiritual companions to anyone at the end of life.”

Felicity Warner, Soul Midwives, Death Midwifery, Home funeral consultant, home funeral, dying at home, home death, home death UK, UK midwives

Felicity Warner.
(credit: Felicity Warner)

MaryFrances : How did you get started with Soul Midwives?

Felicity: If you’d have told me 20 years ago that I would be sitting at the bedsides of dying people, I would have looked at you and just been amazed (laughs). It was never a part of my life plan. It happened by accident, you could say – though very naturally.

MaryFrances: Did you have any prior interests in health, or the subject of death and dying?

Felicity: Well I was a medical journalist 20 years ago, reporting on hardcore clinical issues. I began to work with young women who had breast cancer, to follow them through from their diagnosis, treatment, etc. It was just an extraordinary journey, being with them. I learned that they felt this need to cheer up other people, even though their feelings were so dreadful, so daunting. I wanted to know how to support them in a simple human way – through listening, holding hands, perhaps calming with essential oils. And I just learned what comforted them through that process.

“It was never a part of my life plan. It happened by accident, you could say…”

I was also a hospice volunteer and began sitting more and more with those nearing end of life; those who had no one else. I was managing to soothe people and take away some of their fears – but I wasn’t consciously trying, really! I just wanted to form relationships.

MaryFrances: How did you come up with the name, ‘Soul Midwives’?

Felicity: One day, someone rang me and said, “We heard you’re the lady who knows how to sit with dying people. Could you come and sit with a friend up the road who needs someone?” They called me a ‘soul midwife’, and it just stuck. The work I do now has taken these very simple ideas of my beginnings to be something very useful, even in a mainstream setting. It’s about gentle things you can do for someone in everything from an intensive care unit to an elderly home to someone’s own home.

MaryFrances: It sounds like you really build a meaningful relationship with the client.

Felicity: That’s crucial. A lot of our work depends on that deep relationship – it’s to do with trust, integrity and a real closeness. When you’re dying, suddenly everything that isn’t honest or based in love becomes irrelevant.

Felicity’s 3 Tips for Helping Those Dying:

1) Reading Material: Dig in to end-of-life and palliative care literature. Start the conversation!
2) Breathing Exercises: Essential to helping calm a dying loved one.
3) Creative Visualization: Can be a great tool for self-understanding.

Felicity Warner, Soul Midwives

Soul Midwives training in the Soul Midwives School with sound bowls.
(credit: Felicity Warner)

MaryFrances: Do you have any resistance from funeral directors?

Felicity: That’s an interesting subject, really. Because I think the times have changed so much in the past three or four years. There has been an incredible growth and change in the attitude of how we deal with death and the dying. When I began, people were very unsure of the work involved in what I do. I could sense that people in the medical profession were thinking, What on earth could she know that we don’t know? This is our territory.

“When I began, people were very unsure of the work involved in what I do. I could sense that people in the medical profession were thinking, What on earth could she know that we don’t know? This is our territory.”

It’s taken years for us to build a sense of trust with the public. Now, we’re finding that funeral directors are becoming our allies. In fact, we have quite a few soul midwives in England that are also funeral directors – it means they can be there for the person throughout the entire process; they build trust with the families. It makes for a truly positive, seamless process.

Check out Felicity’s books on Sould Midwifery here, and stay tuned for the second half of her interview.

You may enjoy:

  • Our interview with death midwife Cassandra Yonder
  • Our book review of A Very Easy Death by Simone de Beauvoir
  • What are Home Funerals? An Interview with Ann-Ellice Parker

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