At L’Arche, we live life to the full. We seek to celebrate people’s lives, even in the face of diminishment and death. As an organisation, we are experienced in – and deeply committed to – accompanying people who are aging or dying.

It is essential, in any health community, that people be allowed and encouraged to speak openly about death, and to acknowledge the sadness and other complex emotions we feel when somebody we love dies. This openness to the subject of death should be part of the culture of daily life, whenever it arises.

The familiar rites and rituals that a L’Arche community follows in the event of death can help to prepare a person in thinking about their own death and the death of those to whom they are especially close. Speaking about death in a way that resists euphemisms, makes it easier to talk openly.

When fears or anxieties are faced, and shared, it is easier to rest in ‘not knowing’ and to find freedom in the present.

In L’Arche communities, people who have died continue to be remembered – through stories, images and simple – yet important – rituals, such as visiting a grave with flowers. We do this also as a sign to others that, after death, they too will live on in the memories of their friends and in their place of belonging.