“Katherine Ashenburg was the reason I came here and I was not disappointed” – “Energetic speaker!” – “Enjoyed her tremendously”

Comments on Katherine’s talk about ritual and mourning from audience members at the International Conference on Grief and Bereavement, London, Ontario

Contact the author to book a speaking engagement.

Lectures based on Katherine’s novels

How I Came to Write Her Turn and What It Taught Me About Forgiveness

This is a talk about the journey Katherine took while writing her second novel. She knew she wanted to understand forgiveness better, but she also got to think about mother-son relationships, the changing dynamic with a frail parent and the comedy that ensues when you set your novel in a newspaper.

How I Came to Write Sofie & Cecilia and What It Taught Me About Women’s Friendship, a Rich Old Age and How to Write a Novel

Here Katherine talks about the pitfalls and pleasures of writing a first novel. Katherine made every novel-writing mistake in the book and then tried to correct them — that’s why the book took her 10 years. But she also learned about friendship between women, about trying to keep your identity in a traditional marriage and about achieving a glorious old age.

Lecture based on Going to Town

How to Read an Ontario Town

This is a lecture/slide presentation about the values and styles that determined the look of a typical 19th-century Ontario town. The colour slides, taken by photographer Brian Kilgore, cover the gamut of southern Ontario towns, and the talk has been given to historical and architectural groups as well as tourism professionals throughout Ontario.

Photo by Brian A. Kilgore

Lectures based on The Mourner’s Dance

Mourning Then and Now: What We Can Learn from the Past

Modern mourners are at a disadvantage when it comes to expressing their sense of loss. The rich bereavement customs of the past and the support they offered are compared with the few such resources available to the contemporary mourner. Illustrated with slides of mourning clothes, handcrafts and pastimes – songs, embroideries, samplers, quilts, among others – as well as post-mortem paintings and photographs.

Suitable for historical societies, bereavement and hospice associations, funeral directors, death studies courses and other groups interested in bereavement issues.

Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester, New York. Photo by Frank Gillespie.

Custom and Ceremony: The Value of Ritual in Mourning

How does ritual help the mourner? What happens when there is no traditional ritual that is appropriate? As a way to think about the often fruitful connection between bereavement and ritual, this talk focuses on the Jewish custom of shiva, a modern Catholic funeral, and several contemporary, improvised rituals.

Suitable for funeral directors, bereavement and hospice associations, and other groups interested in bereavement issues.

The Gender of Mourning: How Men and Women Mourn Differently, and Why

Why do men and women often seem to grieve in diametrically different and even alienating ways? This examination of different emotional styles includes slides of mourning clothes and mourning mementoes.

Suitable for women’s studies courses, and other groups interested in bereavement issues.

Sad Clothes: A Historical Look at How People Changed Their Appearance in Mourning

Includes slides of mourning clothes and accessories from the Middle Ages to the mid-20th century.

Suitable for women’s studies courses, costume history associations, as well as groups interested in death and bereavement issues.

How I Came to Write The Mourner’s Dance, and What It Taught Me

A personal talk about the genesis and evolution of The Mourner’s Dance. Suitable for general audiences, university groups, as well as groups interested in death and bereavement issues.