Chatham CH@T | ‘Brooksie’ Edwards talks heart2heart, life, death — and cupcakes

Posted 8/23/19

Cathy Brooks (Brooksie) Edwards is most alive when she’s helping people deal with death. The Oklahoma native is the founder of heart2heart, which provides holistic services for living and dying. …

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Chatham CH@T | ‘Brooksie’ Edwards talks heart2heart, life, death — and cupcakes

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Cathy Brooks (Brooksie) Edwards is most alive when she’s helping people deal with death. The Oklahoma native is the founder of heart2heart, which provides holistic services for living and dying. Edwards attended Plattsburgh State University in upper state New York, completing her undergraduate degree in music performance and her graduate degree in community counseling. She moved to Chatham County in 1996 to attend The Body Therapy Institute for massage therapy.

Today, Edwards is a licensed professional counselor and a licensed massage and bodywork therapist. She completed her death doula certification three years ago and has a private practice, Integrative Intuitive Therapist in Pittsboro, where she lives and has been involved in community projects for 20 years.

She’s married to “one of the sweetest men in the county” — her husband Richard — and has two beautiful teenage girls. She says she loves her life and is currently working on the first anthology, called “Heart Space: Honest Life Stories on Death and Dying.”

What is heart2heart and how did it get started?

heart2heart is a non-profit program that provides holistic services for living and dying. It is supported by contributions from the community, which are tax deductible through the fiscal sponsorship of Abundance NC, a 501(c)3 charitable nonprofit.

This program was birthed through the heart-breaking struggle and death — passage that Chris Lucash, co-founder of Sparkroot Farm, made with his family, friends and community after he was diagnosed with ALS in June of 2015. Chris’ dying time was supported weekly with a variety of holistic modalities which brought him comfort, ease and support, and provided him with the safety and love he needed while he experienced the changes in his body.

Our mission is serving individuals, families and communities to navigate the living path from diagnosis to death and beyond. We are a community of open-hearted professional, compassionate massage therapists and energy workers, musicians, storytellers, teachers, poets and traditional and non-traditional holistic practitioners.

We serve individuals and families in ways that are honest, transparent and ethical. We honor people in their own unique paths with empowerment to their culture, values and spiritual beliefs.

heart2heart connects professional healers and musicians to individuals, families and communities seeking guidance through serious illness, dying, death and beyond. Together, participants and heart2heart develop a treatment plan that encourages integration of body, spirit and imagination.

Your “Death and Cupcakes” event is coming up September 4th. Why is conversation about death so essential and what can attendees expect to experience at this event?

Death and Cupcakes was birthed through the “Death Cafe”-style conversation about death and dying. Death Cafes are part of a global movement. The idea was born from the writings of Bernard Crettaz, a Swiss sociologist who felt that talking about death led to authenticity.

The objective is to raise awareness through open conversation about a topic that remains taboo. It is a much needed opportunity to have open ended, free flowing and organic conversation about topics related to death, dying and beyond — anything from Advanced Directives to honoring our ancestors, from home funerals and green burials, to artistic expressions of grief. We’ll discuss death, share our own stories, celebrate life and be in community together. I lead the sessions, and it starts with live sacred music and a short meditation.

These events are open to everyone. This is a discussion group, not a grief support group or educational seminar. It’s held in a respectful, confidential space. This is a vulnerable topic — so feel free to express your sorrow, joy and anything in between. Bring your knowledge. Bring your tears. But most of all — bring an open mind. And yes, cupcakes will be served!

These are held quarterly and the topics vary. This upcoming Death and Cupcakes is “Sharing your Stories - Heart Space,” to be held at the Abundance Foundation offices, 220 Lorax Lane in Pittsboro from 6:30 - 8 p.m. on Sept. 4. For more information and to RSVP, email me at listeningtoyoursoul@gmail.com or call/text 919-548-4963.

Suggested donation is $10 - $20, but no one is turned away

You’re also involved in the annual Death Faire. Between now and that event, heart2heart will be involved in other events related to the subject. Can you talk about each of these events?

heart2heart sponsors two other community opportunities to sit with one’s own self while being supported by the community, and to learn how to care for the dying as well as caring for the caretakers and their families.

Tending to the Heart is a quarterly event held at The Joy Of Movement in Pittsboro. This is a chance to sit with your own inner landscape around loss, and to be supported by the powerful combination of light touch, sound, intention and gentle guidance. This offers the possibility of deep healing, relaxation and stillness all within the support of our community. It’s from 7 - 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 18, and will be led by me, with music provided by Amy Durso and Sheila Fleming.

Hands on Healing offered by Dr. Roxanne Hollander. This event is in coordination with the first Chatham Health tour, from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. on Oct. 19 and 26. The mission of the Chatham Health tour is to educate the community in the area of alternate health and healing modalities. For more information find it on Facebook (chathamtour2019) or contact Dr. Hollander at doctor_roxanne@protonmail.com.

From what you’ve experienced and learned, what can we all be taught about caring for the dying, as well as caring for the caretakers and their families?

Caring for the dying is one of the most intimate and notable acts that a person can offer to a family member, friend or stranger. To know your own fears, biases and concerns around death and dying can help to prepare you for the emotional labor of losing a beloved or working as an end of life doula.

I have learned that being able to observe without judgment, express deep compassion and to show up with a kind and loving presence is essential for the ease of both the dying person and the family members.

On Oct. 12, musician Amy Durso and I will present a one-day workshop dedicated to teaching care-givers, massage and bodywork therapists and anyone who wants to explore the many aspects of caring for the dying person. This class offers a small insight into the stages of dying and how to care for the dying person. Much of the day is spent creating a safe container to explore this delicate subject. This class is held at the beautiful South Winds Retreat Center in Silk Hope. To register, or for more information, contact www.integritytrainings.com

Part of what heart2heart does is focus on caregiving in the community and for the earth. What are some of the lessons we can all learn from this?

heart2heart is dedicated to providing the community with alternative experiences to help change the way that our society views death. We draw upon the available source of wealth that supports this holy process in our community. We honor and tend to the land that holds our beloveds, offering green and conservation burials at The Sanctuary at the Burrow.

(We believe that death is a natural process and the rituals and practices associated with that passing is supported by the Earth. For people who are interested in green burial we can connect them to the resources)

The biggest lesson in all of this is the understanding that death and dying is the one thing we all have in common and the importance of living each day as if it might be our last...to treat ourselves and each other with love and to find joy in the present moment.

For more information about heart2heart, contact Edwards at 919-548-4963 or go to www.heart2heartnc.com.

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