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Holding Space

Land Acknowledgment: We acknowledge that this beautiful land that we call our home was forcibly vacated of its original and rightful caretakers, the Iswa (Catawba) and Gadua (Cherokee) people who have cared for it for millennia and, through resilience and persistence, despite generations of state-supported acts of removal and genocide, continue to do so. 

January Potluck

Please join us this Wednesday, January 17th, from 6-9pm at our home at 34 Blue Ridge Avenue, Asheville. Bring a dish, a guest, but please leave pets and Covid at home. We welcome neighbors, friends, people interested in or involved with end of life work, and colleagues to come together to share a meal and strengthen connections. Meet new people; expand and deepen your community.

*Covid Precautions will be in effect*
A same-day negative Covid test is required to participate indoors. Masking will be optional. A heated outdoor space will be provided for those desiring open air.

*If you are feeling at all unwell – cough, sniffles, fever, nausea, or anything out of the ordinary – please refrain from joining this time.
Potlucks are recurring every 3rd Wednesday, so we’ll catch you at the next one: Feb. 21st!

(While there are a few parking spaces right next to the house, please reserve this for people needing to park close. Please do not park on the grass – there are fig trees planted there. There is a Baptist Church on the corner of the next street over, Mitchell Ave, and Haywood Road, that has a large parking lot. The house itself has a ramp that can be used by people who use a wheelchair to get into the main floor of the house, where all activity of the potluck will take place.) 

Our newest housemate moved in on the Autumnal Equinox of 2023, September 21st. Now that we’re all settling into the dynamics and rhythms of an added household member, we’d like to make a formal introduction to Pk Kiely. The transcript of our introductory interview follows below. To listen to the full 10 minute audio interview instead, click HERE.

Erik: In April of 2023, we hosted an advance screening that you attended at our house of the feature film, The Last Ecstatic Days*. What was your experience of watching Ethan’s journey unfold?

Pk: It was really profound. I think it would have been anyway, but it was particularly profound because I was facing my own health crisis, which is continuing, but at that moment in time I was really coming to terms with it. I was very impressed to see a bunch of people that were willing to show up to watch something like that – which I think is not an easy thing for people to do. And the way that the movie was made just personally affected me. Even if I had been completely healthy, I’ve just been very distressed for a long time – I took care of my mom for 10 years – I’ve been distressed about how most of the systems and structures around health and aging and illness are set up in a way that distresses me and so it was very difficult, but it was very beautiful also to have that experience of being in a situation where I could see that there were people that were interested in other options and were actively taking a role in creating them.

Erik: The evening of the screening is when Millie and I first met you. How did you first come to learn about our house?

Pk: I had left where I was living because it was too hard for me to find a place to live, financially, up there and I’ve been interested in living in Asheville for at least 5 years. Somebody was letting me stay with them, this lovely couple who knew about The Center for Conscious Living and Dying, and they had heard about this house, I think through their interaction with the person who was involved with CCLD and so I had heard about you guys and I had also heard about the screening through them.

Erik: A short time after that initial introduction, you reached out about having a more formal informational interview about our home. What were you seeking from that discussion?

Pk: At that time it was primarily self-oriented. I was on my own and I was concerned about the fact that I didn’t really know how hospice works and what was required and I thought you guys might have a sense of being able to tell me what I would need to do, what my paperwork needed to look like, and also just hold the space emotionally. I was hoping for that because I could go talk to a social worker, but you guys are just so warm to me and the fact that you were doing this  – and that you were committed to doing this as a household – made me feel like there was space for me to come and tell my story and ask the questions that I needed to ask and find out how you guys came to be and also what you are doing and if I got to the place where I needed to be somewhere, if this was a place that could possibly hold me in that situation.

Erik: That initial conversation turned into a house meeting where we all met you and decided together whether this was a good fit. I know you’ve lived in shared housing before, and we all decided to move forward with you moving in, so what takeaways do you bring to this household from your prior shared housing experiences?

Pk: I’ve wanted to live in community for a really long time and consciously being aware of community, as opposed to just moving in with other humans for whatever reasons. I mean, people sometimes consciously move in with each other because they’re friends, but that’s really different than moving into a community where everyone is interested in being involved in each other’s lives. So I think there’s been non-intentional community in some of the situations I’ve been in before, but I haven’t actually lived in community before. I’ve lived with a lot of people. Initially it was in my own home and it was housemates who inevitably developed relationships, but it was pretty much my responsibility and they were just staying there. Then I’ve also lived in other people’s houses, but I’ve never moved into a space with a community that was already created. I can’t really speak to take-aways so much, as just that I’m very interested in moving forward in contributing – and also being open to receiving – creating group targets, and creating ideas together, and moving towards them together, and also being able to be involved in each other’s lives.

Erik: It’s been three months that you’ve been here now, and at a recent household meeting, we talked about the possibility of someone approaching us who is acutely dying and desiring to move in with us for their final days. How do you feel about that possibility and what involvement, if any, do you anticipate for yourself?

Pk: So when I first moved in, I was aware that it might be a lot for me, but I also wanted to show up for it in some way. Now that I’ve been here a few months and I’ve had some time to get my nervous system back on track, I’m feeling like the fact that I was a caregiver for so long and took care of my mom for 10 years gives me a lot of capacity – probably to support the caregiver. I think that it’s great that you guys have come up with this model where the housemates are supporting the whole unit in some way. I’m interested in supporting the person who’s dying – I’ve been in that situation a couple of times – I was with my aunt when she crossed over and I have been with people moving in that direction. I think it really would depend on who it was and what their needs were and what my capacities were at the time. I feel like the strengths that I have in practical terms are being in support of the person who’s taking care of the person who’s dying. But I would also hope to show up for the person who is dying, if that was a good match.

Erik: We write these newsletter updates and host our monthly potlucks as a way to meet and involve members of our community who may have skills and interests that align with our mission. You touched on your own health journey and the possible trajectory it may take during your time within our household. What are some ways in which members of our audience and community who resonate with you could learn more about your situation, and show up for you?

Pk: I would be happy to speak with anybody who’s interested in being of support. I’m pretty clear about the things that I need and I’m also really interested in people contributing the things that are juicy for them to contribute. There are some specific areas where I could just use help with the red tape that goes along with the health system and all that. I’m always looking for people to hang out with – I’m very social. I moved here recently and so I don’t know a lot of people. If anybody out there is a partner dancer that would be great too! In general, anyone who knows a lot about alternative health, I could use support with healing and that kind of thing as well.

Erik: Well, thanks! We look forward to what the future holds and your time at our house.

Pk: I also want to share that I have had quite a bit of support from somebody in your community already who is helping me take care of some of the steps that I needed to take and also the people that are actually in the house have just been amazing. I’m really grateful to you all individually and also just to the mission of the house and that you’ve chosen to create a space that I can call home. And that other people who maybe have not had that situation, or have had it, but might not have it at the end of life, know that there’s something available and that people are working in this general direction. So, thank you.

Erik: Thank you!

Our Mission

Holding Space was created to improve the quality of life and death for those with a terminal illness and their caregivers by offering support to meet basic needs, connect with community and create meaning.

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