We are all, near and far, struggling this week to acknowledge the passing of our dear friend and loved one, but Katie left us with yet another gift in trying to help us through these difficult days. (read more about Katie’s peaceful passing here)
Many who knew Katie gathered at 3:30 pm on Tuesday for the funeral ceremony, and at Shiva on Tuesday and Wednesday to celebrate and honor her.
Katie had told her longtime, dear friend Andi, who visited a couple weeks ago from LA, about how she wanted her funeral to be planned, wanting to let it be an example of lessons she has learned on her journey in dealing with adversity. Andi wonderfully orchestrated a ceremony that let loved ones speak about Katie’s huge impact, but also set a tone that we should not linger too long in the sorrow of her passing. In moving style, amidst the comforting Jewish traditions (lead by Rabbi Jennifer Kaluzny), tearful remembrances, personal connections and stories of Katie’s devoted motherhood, character, kindness and reach… Katie on this day was trying to again help us all, with her vision of embracing us with uplifting song. True to her belief in acceptance of others, I don’t think many were surprised that Katie would have delightfully treated us to a Gospel choir!
Members of the prestigious Hartford Memorial Baptist Church Choir had just the day before learned the song “Seasons Of Love” (from the musical Rent), providing a soaring energy and harmonies with the chorus of “How About Love? What About Love?”. And then provided a perfect ending to the honoring of Katie’s life, and to Katie’s wish that we all live a vibrant life even in adversity – with a truly uplifting performance of the empowering spiritual “This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Let It Shine!” Katie had just given all of us a huge hug, and let us know we will be able to, and must, go on living authentically. Our incredible friend, still working to lift up those around her, with joyful voices and song.
People at the funeral ceremony on Tuesday had the option of writing a small note to Katie, and these were placed with her when she was cremated, so that Katie will never be alone.
— If you have not seen the service, you can view it here.
(EDIT: We didn’t mean to gloss over the incredible words of the speakers at the ceremony… we will be covering that in more detail soon)
Many family and friends then gathered for Shiva at Katie’s mom Tammy’s house, where the Katie-planned fish platter from Steve’s Deli was there for all to savor, while we tried to comfort each other in our loss and shared memories to keep Katie with us. Rabbi Tamara Kolton led a wonderful Shiva service at 7:00 pm which was outside on a beautiful day. And then Katie had us to all take a brightly colored ballon (bio-degradable balloon and string of course), whisper a wish into the ballon, and release them all together. A beautiful swarm of colors and heartfelt thoughts gracefully floated up past the trees, soaring to meet our new angel above.
Wednesday was another day of Shiva with family and friends alike, and more sharing of the joys that Katie had with all of us. Joys that we will remember always. Rabbi Kolton led us in a final service at 7:00 pm, with a funny pause that occurred when most were not sure at first about the strange noises coming from next door, where just over the fence were the howling animals at the Detroit Zoo! Katie the animal lover would be honored for the vocal tribute.
Katie will be remembered for her passions, authenticity, caring, love and more. Many are holding her now in their hearts.
We’d like you all to feel free to share memories, thoughts or stories of Katie, whenever you think of her – now and in the future. We have a Your Thoughts and Memories page set up (which also has information if you’d like to mail a personal card or note to Katie’s mom Tammy.) In this way, we can help each other deal with her passing. This memories page also has a slideshow of photos from throughout her life.
— Thank you deeply for the tremendous outpouring of support in many forms. It has meant so much to the family and friends!
The Jewish Hospice & Chaplaincy Network
6555 W. Maple Road
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
or to a charity of one’s choice
Tribute to Katie:
- Peacefully at Rest (with audio and video from funeral ceremony)
- Your Thoughts and Memories (and a Slideshow) – Please share with us…
- Lifetime of Photos and Videos
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