Stephen Garrett combines his life experience with his Masters in Leadership and Training as he trains and mentors people interested in dealing with dying, death, and grief in a new and inspiring way. Photo contributed

Are you and your family prepared for the grey tsunami?

Campbell River program offers training that we will need to be better prepared for death in the home

Earthquakes and earthquake kits, disease outbreaks and hand sanitizer, power outages and flashlights, tsunamis and evacuation routes…emergency preparedness.

We all know and face the idea of being properly prepared for a variety of things in life. Have you heard about the ‘grey tsunami’ and are you and your family prepared?!

We have known about the grey tsunami for decades now and talked about it as if it were a long way off. Well it once was a long way off, now it is right in our collective faces. There are 86 million baby boomers in North America, 11 million in Canada and 1 million right here in British Columbia (and many of those are on Vancouver Island). Baby Boomers are now 56-74 years old and many of them are facing and will be facing the ends of their lives. The gray tsunamis is the impending heath care crises with the number of people facing the ends of their lives.

Here in B.C. we have 28,000 long-term care beds, 10,500 hospital beds and 260 hospice beds for the entire province. Urban communities are much better resourced than rural ones. Our current death rate is 38,500 deaths per year and will soon be heading towards 70,000 deaths yearly as the boomers age out. Simply stated, the demand for end-of-life care services will swamp the current capacity of the care system whether that be hospital, hospice or long-term care home.

One of the results will be a rapid increase in deaths at home. Though this is the wish most of us have, statistically only 17 per cent of us do in fact die at home. The increase in home deaths will place heavy demands on the family, on neighborhoods and communities. The adage ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ is also very true for end of life. It will take a village to die well as the demand for care services will outstrip our current institutional capacity to help out. We will need to think out of the box in order to support the families, neighborhoods and communities that will be facing a wave of death never seen before.

Join a weekend of learning facilitated by Stephen Garrett on how to bring death back to community life and make our neighborhoods death friendly.

Stephen Garrett is a man who lives life fully. A genuine heart and commitment to life have produced in Garrett the qualities of a warrior: integrity, strength, leadership, kindness, and wisdom. He has experienced success in life as a teacher, investment banker, social worker, author (books include When Cancer Came Knocking: How One Family Answered and When Death Speaks: Listen, Learn and Love), Interfaith Minister, and currently executive director of the Memorial Society of B.C.

Arising out of his personal experience of hundreds of deaths, Garrett’s heart, passion and life energy are focused on changing the conversation we have about death from one of fear and denial to one of embrace and inspiration. Garrett combines his life experience with his Masters in Leadership and Training as he trains and mentors people interested in dealing with dying, death, and grief in a new and inspiring way.

The weekend’s training, It Takes A Village to Die Well, offers the basic training that we will all need to be better prepared for death in the home. At the end of the weekend participants will have a better understanding of what a home death entails, how to prepare the family home and the planning necessary to make it all happen. Learners will also learn what death looks like and what they can expect to see and hear as their loved one is actively dying. We will also explore how we can approach death differently letting go of the age-old image of the Grim Reaper turn fear and denial into acceptance and embrace.

Each session is limited to 24 people. Join in for one or all of the events. March 6 – 8 at the Centre for Spiritual Living 516 South Dogwood St. Pre-registration is recommended.

For more information go to or contact Marilyn McPhee at

Friday March 6, 6:30 – 9:00 Changing the Face of Death $ 45.

Saturday March 7, 11:00 – 5:00 It Takes a Village to Die Well $120.

Sunday March 9, 1:00 – 4:00 How We Die: A Closer Look at Active Dying $ 50.

Full Weekend Package $175. (Save $40.)