Beyond the Obituary

Episodes of the Beyond the Obituary Podcast

6: Palliative Care Hospital Chaplain and Bereavement Coordinator Heidi Gessner

Heidi Gessner is the palliative care hospital chaplain and bereavement coordinator at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill NC.  Today she talks about what a hospital chaplain does, her personal story on how she got into the industry, different ways people can grieve, and some of her favorite stories from her 17 years as a chaplain.

On this podcast from Renaissance Funeral Home in Raleigh North Carolina, we go beyond the obituary to share memories of loved ones who have passed on. We’ll also hear from some people in the death industry – cemetery directors, therapists, clergy, and (like today’s guest) hospital chaplains.

Heidi is also a life coach and is hosting a “Create Your Life Vision-Board Retreat” on August 24th.

If you’d like to get in touch with Heidi, she can be reached at heidi.gessner@unchealth.unc.edu.

Beyond the Obituary is hosted, edited, and produced by Jason Gillikin for Earfluence.

5: Owen Preston, 4/2/08-4/29/17: Touching Lives While Battling Brain Cancer

On this podcast from Renaissance Funeral Home in Raleigh North Carolina, we go beyond the obituary to get a better sense of who those people were who have passed on. What were some of the stories that define them?  We’ll hear from the people who loved them because they are so much more than a one-page obituary.

On today’s episode, Jennifer Preston lost her son Owen to a glioblastoma in April 2017. Jennifer shares so many stories of the special person that Owen was, his strength, and the impact he left in touching so many lives as he was going through his battle with cancer at the Ronald McDonald House and New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

We also talked about how important a Child Life Specialist can be, a trip to Alaska the family took before Owen passed away, and the work that Jennifer and her husband Brian are doing now to help with cancer research.

Owen and Jennifer Preston

Jennifer mentioned one of the charities her family supports, Reelin’ for Research, to raise money for UNC Children’s Hospital.  Check out Owen’s page and donate here.

Beyond the Obituary is hosted, edited, and produced by Jason Gillikin for Earfluence.

4: Sharon Delaney McCloud on Her Baby Daughter Macie, 10/1/04-8/5/05

On this podcast from Renaissance Funeral Home in Raleigh North Carolina, we go beyond the obituary to get a better sense of who those people were who have passed on. What were some of the stories that define them?  We’ll hear from the people who loved them because they are so much more than a one-page obituary.

On today’s episode, Sharon Delaney McCloud shares her baby daughter Macie’s story, who tragically passed away from leukemia.

Sharon’s grief journey started with anger, and it wasn’t until she found help with a group called Compassionate Friends that she was able to channel that energy into something much more positive to the community. And Sharon wants to help even more than she already has, and we talk about what she’s working on later in the conversation.

You’ll also hear about how Macie’s family has been so blessed since her passing, it’s like there’s an angel looking down on them from heaven.

Organizations Sharon mentions on the show: Compassionate Friends St. Baldrick’s Foundation Me Fine Foundation Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Blog Post from Sharon about Macie –https://optionb.org/stories/option-b-is-turning-your-battle-scars-into-badges-of-honor-h1colxrlw

Beyond the Obituary is hosted, edited, and produced by Jason Gillikin for Earfluence.

3. Robin Simonton, Executive Director of Historic Oakwood Cemetery

On this podcast from Renaissance Funeral Home in Raleigh North Carolina, we go beyond the obituary to share memories of loved ones who have passed on. We’ll also hear from some people in the death industry – hospital chaplains, therapists, clergy, and (like today’s guest) cemetery directors.

Robin Simonton, executive director of Historic Oakwood Cemetery in downtown Raleigh NC, is so passionate about the history of the cemetery and of the 25,000+ people who are buried there. On the show today, she talks about that history (and shares some amazing stories!), societal norms of funerals, the Death Letter Project which commemorates Oakwood’s 150th anniversary, what exactly Green Burial is, and so much more.

In addition to being the cemetery director, Robin is a speaker and author, and co-wrote “Historic Oakwood Cemetery“, which you can find at Quail Ridge or Amazon.

Historic Oakwood Cemetery Raleigh NC

Robin Simonton, Executive Director of Historic Oakwood Cemetery

Robin mentioned a few stories of people buried at Oakwood, including:

Bobby Crocker

Myrtle Hilton

Rachel Blythe

Burning Coal Theatre Company will be at Oakwood May 17th-19th, and you can find more information and buy tickets on their website!

Renaissance Funeral Home and Historic Oakwood co-host Death Cafe. For more information on what exactly Death Cafe is, and when and where to attend, check out the Renaissance Funeral Home Facebook Page.

Beyond the Obituary is hosted, edited, and produced by Jason Gillikin for Earfluence.

2: Leah Loeffler, 4/28/83 – 11/8/00: Her Life and the Grief Journeys of Her Parents Dan and Nancy

On this podcast from Renaissance Funeral Home in Raleigh North Carolina, we go beyond the obituary to get a better sense of who those people were who have passed on. What were some of the stories that define them?  We’ll hear from the people who loved them because they are so much more than a one-page obituary. On today’s episode, Leah Loeffler was just 17 when she passed away from a car accident. To die so young is a tragedy, but Leah’s parents Dan and Nancy Loeffler have transformed their tragedy into helping others with grief.

Nancy’s book, The Alchemy of Grief: Your Journey to Wholeness, is available on Amazon or some Raleigh bookstores. Dan and Nancy’s website is BeingWithGrief.com, and from there you’ll find information on Sumyama, The Grief Recovery Method, and you can connect with them as well.

Leah Loeffler, 4/28/83 – 11/8/00

Dan, Nancy, and Peter Loeffler

Beyond the Obituary is hosted, edited, and produced by Jason Gillikin for Earfluence.

1: Jonathan Hill, The Pilot, 9/27/71 – 12/5/14: Loving Husband, Son, Friend, and Father of 3

Welcome to the first episode of the Beyond the Obituary. On this podcast from Renaissance Funeral Home in Raleigh North Carolina, we go beyond the obituary to get a better sense of who those people were who have passed on. What were some of the stories that define them?  We’ll hear from the people who loved them because they are so much more than a one-page obituary. On today’s episode, we share the story of Jonathan Hill, 43, who passed away on December 5, 2014. Jonathan was a pilot, son, husband, father of three, and friend. And on today’s show, we hear from his wife Heather, his mother Bronwyn, his three children (Sarah, Andrew, and Nicholas), and family friend Mimi.

Jonathan Hill, September 27, 1971 – December 5, 2014

Jon and Heather

Jon with Sarah, Andrew, and Nicholas

Jon and Mimi

Jon and Heather with Bill Clinton

Jon with his brother Josh

Beyond the Obituary is hosted, edited, and produced by Jason Gillikin for Earfluence.

Beyond the Obituary Trailer

The Beyond the Obituary Podcast from Renaissance Funeral Home in Raleigh NC is a place where friends and family members come to tell their stories of loved ones who have passed on.

Subscribe now for new episodes, coming March 2019.

About Renaissance Funeral Home

Family Owned and Operated by 3rd and 4th Generation Funeral Directors, Renaissance is families provide dignity in death to their loved ones.

Renaissance Funeral Home, Raleigh NC

Joseph and Joe Smolenski, Owners of Renaissance Funeral Home

Beyond the Obituary is hosted, edited, and produced by Jason Gillikin for Earfluence.