Free series provides insight from expert on death, dying

As a funeral home director in the 1980s, Duane Weeks began wondering why people weren’t dealing with death very well.

His drive to find the answers led him back to school where he earned a doctorate in sociology with emphases on death education and public health. He then was hired into a leadership as director of a funeral service program at a Boston-area college.

Weeks, a licensed funeral director for more than 55 years, now retired, has seen it all. He has been leading discussions on death-related subjects for more than 33 years. In October, Plateau area residents will be able to benefit from his observations, knowledge and passion.

An international speaker and author of dozens of articles and book chapters on the subject, Weeks will present a six-week series titled, “An Exploration of Death, Dying and Bereavement.” The free, weekly sessions from 1 to 3 p.m. begin Tuesday, Oct. 3, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1535 Washington Ave., in Enumclaw and continue through Nov. 7.

He has high hopes for the series.

“I hope to take away fear – to take away the fear of dying, or of other people dying,” Weeks said. “I hope participants learn concepts and ideas that enable them to help other people.”

One of the proposed topics is titled, “Our Social Vacuum.” People used to belong to churches, service clubs and lodges, Weeks noted; now we stay home, watch TV and text. Why is that bad for us?

“People don’t follow helpful rituals,” Weeks said. “They’ve done away with the fuss and bother, but they need the fuss and bother. They need the things that help people grieve. They need the things that help with bereavement. They need help from the community and they need to honor the person who has died.”

Other topics in the series include: Waning Influence of the North American Church; Grief and Mourning; The Importance of Death Rituals, Funerals and Memorial Services; Children and Death; Healing Death Rituals that Work; Who Deserves Death Rituals; and Understanding Estate Planning from a Foundation of Compassion and Peacemaking (presented by Daniel Farr, retired Enumclaw attorney).

Registration is encouraged; call Ayme Ledenko at Trinity Lutheran Church, 360-825- 6561, or Karen Strecker at Weeks’ Enumclaw Funeral Home, 360-825- 3548.