hand-painted by Sue Cross
Ruth Faas and Sue Cross, co-founders, believe that current practices and products typically presented do not reflect each person's unique life, and often do not adequately address fundamental human needs during life's most difficult and conflict-ridden transition. Along these same lines, holding true to our values at the end of life can sometimes be challenging. New, greener alternatives for burial are available and can make a difference in the environmental impact we leave behind.
Through Mourning Dove Studio, Sue and Ruth want to help dying people and their loved ones openly discuss these topics, utilize art and creativity as tools for leaving a legacy of love, create meaningful, personalized end-of-life ceremonies, have more access to eco-friendly options, honor and grieve our connections and losses.
Ruth Faas has over fifteen years of professional and personal experience in the field of death and dying.
As an occupational therapist, she worked with patients in rehab hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes; she was Department Head in four of those facilities. Ruth worked at a federally funded Research and Training Center for four years. She co-authored publications based on this academic research and received an honorary appointment as a faculty member at Tufts Medical School. While doing graduate work in sociology on a full scholarship at Boston College, she was a teaching assistant for a Death and Dying class. She has given presentations on occupational therapy and sociological issues at state and national levels. Ruth founded a volunteer-run program for elder refugees in Thailand in 1990.
Ruth's many years of clinical, theoretical and personal experience grappling with issues of death and dying all inform her current work with clients of Mourning Dove Studio. She is committed to helping people cope with the emotional, practical, and financial challenges that can arise, and to helping people find their own ways to honor this important time.
Sue Cross brings a unique perspective to her work with death and dying based on an extensive background in mental health, conflict resolution, and art.
After college, Sue worked on an inpatient psychiatric unit at a Harvard teaching hospital for two years. During this time, she coordinated a research project for a drug study, and later worked as a research associate for a number of professors in the Department of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School, and at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. She was awarded an appointment as Research Associate in Harvard's Department of Psychiatry. She received a full scholarship to Harvard to study Social Psychology. She was the Chair of the Research Committee for the Program for International Conflict Analysis and Resolution (PICAR) for two years, and an affiliate of the Harvard Center for International Affairs. Her writing has been published in a leading social psychology journal, and she has presented her work internationally. She received her master's degree in 2001. After leaving Harvard she joined a cooperative art studio and spent four years taking art classes. Through her artwork, she reconnected with her Hungarian heritage, studied Hungarian ethnography, and made works celebrating Hungarian village culture. She was especially captivated by the art and rituals her ancestors used to mark the final milestone of life. She created an art installation called "Zoli's Wake" that was displayed at the Armenian Museum in Watertown.
Sue is currently involved with the Arlington Children's Room as a Counselor for grieving adolescents, and she is creating an adult education film series on death, dying, and grieving at local Unitarian churches. Sue calls on her many years of mental health work; her academic and practical experience in conflict resolution; her passion for art and deep respect for cultural differences when working with clients of Mourning Dove Studios. She offers a calm and heartfelt compassion to those facing life's most difficult transition.