Eva Ting: Here to Honor
Eva Ting was inspired to start Here to Honor during her time working at Redeemer Presbyterian, a church in New York City. Much of her role involved working with clients who were utilizing the church’s event space for various lifetime events. Amongst the weddings and the bar mitzvahs, Eva also helped many clients with their memorial services for deceased loved ones. It was during those jobs that Eva began to understand the processes involved in services, but also, the many needs within said processes. Many of the families were from the church and the neighborhood, and they all shared similar challenges and frustrations. The common denominator between the most of them, was the rarity of easy to find resources.
Moved from her experiences, Eva took the initiative to become a resource of her own, by beginning to help families through the difficulties of planning a loved one’s funeral. And so, Here to Honor was born.
During her time working with the recently bereaved, Eva discovered that the first and most important thing that she can do for her clients is to listen. When she has an initial conversation with them, they are frazzled. There is much going on, much to take care of, and of course, a plethora of emotions. Therefore, it is so integral that she uses the time in their first call to listen, and let them talk.
“I try not to come up with solutions from the start,” Eva added. “Just listen [to them] and keep resources at hand so that when they do ask I have things that I can recommend. A big part of this is empathy. That’s the whole point of doing this work. It can and will happen to all of us, so it’s important to walk beside them.”
Working within the death care space has allowed Eva to observe and partake in the many changes that have recently come about. New startups have appeared, and many young people and millennials are spearheading them. Specifically, she’s been pleasantly surprised by the young women who have been standing at the forefront of death care innovation. Although much of these changes have yet to hit the ‘mainstream’ community, Eva believes that a wave is coming, and it’s exciting to know about it, and to be a part of it.
“I didn’t know about any of this until I started researching for the Here to Honor website. This whole world opened up that I had no idea existed.”
Along with the changes being made, many people in the death care field are trying to normalize conversations of death and dying. It’s the one experience other than birth that everyone will go through, and it’s often not spoken of in a way that brings it into the community. Eva’s goal is to move the concept of funeral planning from that of an organized institution, and into something that is more community oriented and collaborative. Eva imagines a world in which funerals meant a community coming together and helping by sharing ideas, creating art, and intimately planning a celebration of life, rather than outsourcing to institutions.
This isn’t a farfetched idea. As modernization sends people around the globe, people begin to redefine what family means to them. This definition doesn’t follow the same nuclear parameters as it once did. A family is now found outside of that, and within the community that one affiliates with. Death care has the ability to move into these communities, and to become a part of the many rituals that bind them together.
Before creating Here to Honor, Eva would have never imagined herself getting involved in the death-space. She is learning a lot about the death care field, especially as she entered into the planning field due to a pull on her heart, rather than from the understanding of a funeral professional.
“Having the honor to be a part of these conversations is very rewarding. Every family that I work with (and served their needs) is an achievement.”
One of the many things that Eva loves about her work are the moments after the service is over. Whether the service was in person or done virtually, there is always a moment of relief from the family. An audible sigh where their shoulders untense, and they relax because they managed to do it. They managed to send off a loved one successfully. The grief is still there, of course, but this particular, logistical aspect is done.
“The grief is still there,” Eva says. “But this particular task is done, and done well. That to me feels like an achievement, and I’m always looking for that.”
Eva’s recommended resources
End Well https://endwellproject.org/
The Artist’s Grief Deck https://griefdeck.com/
A Beginner's Guide to the End by Dr. B.J. Miller and Shosana Berger
The Lost Art of Dying by Dr. L.S. Dugdale
You can contact Eva & Here to Honor:
E-mail: [email protected]