Updated: 03/31/2014 12:03 PM
Created: 11/13/2012 4:11 PM WDIO.com
By: Laurie Stribling
A Threshold Choir in Grand Rapids sings to people who are dying in an effort to make their final days more comfortable. They're called the Lovely Loons and they sing to people who are terminally ill or in hospice care, including Justine Dragavon who is almost completely deaf and blind.
"This makes me feel closer to God having you come this way," Dragavon said. "The choir is an extraordinary pacifier for a body. It's like a prayer coming to life."
Dragavon is 101 years old and in hospice care. The choir visits her once a week and sings to her for 20 minutes. The trio hopes to create a comfortable environment for people like Justine who are close to death. Threshold Choirs sing a cappella and are usually comprised of just women.
"There is something that happens; I really can't describe it in words," Threshold Singer Linda Flanagan said. "You create this space where it just feels magical. A little unusual, very serene and very peaceful."
This group is the only choir of its kind in Northern Minnesota, but there are about 100 across the nation with each member embracing death.
"It's like facing it eyeball to eyeball," Threshold Singer Karin McAuley said. "We hope to be able to help others understand that death is a part of life."
"Everybody faces it, no matter what," Flanagan said. "There is no getting out. So, we try to normalize it because in our culture people are scared to talk about it."
Some people might think these visits seem eerie, but members of the choir said it's quite the opposite. This group shares laughter, stories and jokes like a family would. Justine even shares some of her hopes and fears with members of the choir.
"I'm anxious to see what is going to happen to me," Dragavon said. "Please God, don't let me suffer. I wouldn't be a good sufferer."
The Lovely Loons are looking for more members in the Grand Rapids area. For more information on how to join, visit their Web site by clicking here.
Updated: Police ID Victim in Superior Homicide, Still Searching for Suspect
The Superior Police Department has released the name of a homicide victim in Superior Tuesday evening. They say 20-year-old Garth H. Velin of Superior was killed. Police say they are still searching for the person responsible.
MNsure Says 4.5 Percent Average Hike in 2015
Minnesota officials say the average rate for policies sold on the state health insurance exchange next year will go up 4.5 percent. They say that will still give Minnesota the lowest average rate in the nation.
Wis. Court: Castle Doctrine Doesn't Apply Outside Dwelling
The 2nd District Court of Appeals ruling Thursday stems from the case of Charles Chew, who fired at two men as they fled across a parking lot after they beat him in his apartment in 2012.
Man Pleads Guilty in Deaths of Parents
An Iron River, Wis., man has pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree intentional homicide in the deaths of his parents last winter. 45-year-old James Crain, Jr., entered the plea Tuesday as part of a plea agreement.
Police: Reward Offered for Suspects in 5 Gas Station Robberies
Five recent gas station robberies in Duluth, Superior and Hermantown may be linked, and now Hermantown Police are offering a reward in their search for two suspects. Police say the suspects robbed the Hermantown BP for the second time early Monday morning.