09 December 2009

Gulf Island National Seashore

Thank you to DJ for letting us know when she saw Kirsten on t.v. a few months ago. WSRE in Pensacola produced a documentary: Gulf Islands National Seashore: The Treasure of the Gulf Coast that includes footage of Kirsten. I haven't yet seen the documentary but according to the producer, the documentary was dedicated to Kirsten's memory. The dvd should be available through the WSRE website by December 15th.

The remembrances we still receive a year later are a testament to Kirsten's great fortune in both friends and followers. Thank you for carrying on her work and helping to protect these beautiful creatures that she loved so well.

31 January 2009

memories on kd's birthday

yesterday, we attended a mass in memory of kirsten on what would have been her birthday. it seems there are still loads of people just learning of her death, and coming here to find out more. that said, we'll continue to add things from time to time. for now, here's a link to a news report on turtle projects on pensacola beach, florida. kirsten was totally unprepared for this interview from summer 2008, but i think she did a marvelous job, and reached a broad audience. click here

also, kirsten had almost 900 friends on the social networking site 'facebook'. the description she wrote of herself reflects so many qualities that i admired in her... thought i'd share. (in her own words)

For those who are interested, this is who I am:

I am a sea turtle girl. My passion in life is to protect these animals and their habitats which, in turn, protects all life as we know it. We rely on the same resources -- the sun to heat the earth, the rain for fresh water, the ocean to evaporate and create rain, the seasons, the seas, the coral reefs and rain forests, the beaches and rivers and streams -- we are all truly interconnected.

I can be a serious girl. I can study, learn and grow.

More often, I am a silly girl.

I carry bubbles in my car.

I chase butterflies.

I believe there is a pot of gold at the rainbow's end.

I believe I can see myself reflected in the eyes of everyone I meet -- that there truly is no 'other' -- we're all too connected by similarities to be divided by any detail.

I believe there is goodness and light in everyone. Yes, EVERYONE.

I wish on falling stars and dropped eyelashes.

I believe it IS possible to have peace in our time.

I am happily naive... and will continue to be so.

I read children's books.

I make sand angels at work some days.

I find faeries, butterflies and birds in a cloud-ridden sky.

I wish to be a dolphin while watching a pod frolic in the waves.

I throw my arms back on a warm afternoon and try to embrace the sunshine.

I have been known to actually hug a tree. Really.

I build sand castles.

I twirl on a lonely beach when my favorite song comes on my ipod.

I twirl on a polished oak floor just because I can.

I'll skate on that same floor in socks. No one ever sees me do these things...

I giggle when watching plover chicks somersault after tripping on their newly hatched feet.

I drink hot chocolate with mini-marshmallows and eat popcorn at the movies.

I love my friends and family fiercely, no matter what. They may not always know that, or see it evident in my words and actions.

I am lonely in a crowded room, and crowded alone with my own thoughts.

I am loyal, kind, independent, compassionate, eccentric, intelligent and very often, scared.

I love and trust too easily and hurt far too deeply.

I love sunrise, a cup of chamomile tea (it's sunshine and honey in a mug!), fresh cilantro, music, and my nephews.

The sounds of shushing waves, the wind scratching the palms and a chuck-will-widow calling let me know I am home.

My greatest joy comes from sharing the things I love most with someone else. There's nothing quite like introducing someone to their first sea turtle hatchlings, their first ocean, their first coral reef. The gift really is more mine than theirs, and I am ever grateful.

I know I have found my place in this world -- I am a voice for the wordless sea. I am a champion of the under water world. I am a siren on an earth island, singing my song of the deep blue beyond.

I am inspired by light, laughter & love.

I am happy, joyous and free :)

I believe dreams do come true -- every single day..

14 December 2008

I Would Rather Be Ashes Than Dust...A Eulogy

By request, here is the full text of the eulogy delivered by Sean at Kirsten's funeral. Please feel free to share it with anyone who may have missed the service. The family has endured this past week through support from so many friends and relatives. Your intentions, and your efforts are appreciated more than we could express. Thank you all.


I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.

I found this quote from Jack London on Kirsten’s website. It speaks to a place in all of us – a place of real strength and passion. It calls us to be present, and to act! It reminds us to keep the spark of life burning brightly. My sister, like my father before her, shined so brightly. They both possessed a powerful intellect that is unmatched in my experience. Kirsten’s burned with such intensity that it reached around the globe. But the flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.

There is a natural period of grief we all must endure as we let go of a daughter, a sister, a friend. I personally have been crushed by waves of emotion all week as I sort through all she left behind. I appreciate the tears. They remind me how much Kirsten means to me. They keep me present, and force me to evaluate what is truly important in life. I do feel a sense of loss, but I’m not willing to indulge despair. Kirsten has already found peace. Now I must surrender to what is, and just let her go to find my own. I am not here to mourn the loss of Kirsten. I’m here to celebrate the blessing of her presence in of our lives.

I had the unique opportunity to join Kirsten at work one day on the beach in Florida. We had coffee, breakfast, and arrived on the beach well before dawn. We spent the day scouring a 10-mile beach of white sand looking for white eggs the size of a quarter. She could spot them from a moving ATV, while I could hardly see the small birds who gathered nearby, indicating their location. She was incredibly sensitive to her surroundings which allowed her to be of great service in her work.

More than any other animal, Kirsten fought to protect the turtle. To her, it represented the bridge between land and sea, relying on both for its survival. This sensitive creature, vulnerable to forces on both land and sea, was, to Kirsten, the canary in the global coal mine. Kirsten studied, traveled, educated the public, accepted awkward living conditions, and even broke laws to ensure this majestic creature’s survival.

Like the turtle, Kirsten was timid and fragile beneath her thick protective shell. The same sensitivity that helped her excel in her work also created much pain in her personal life. If there is any tragedy to be found in her life, it is this: she often failed to give herself the same unconditional love that so easily flowed through her work.

It seems to me that Kirsten was at home out in the world, easily thriving outside her shell. While away, she developed a power that she rarely displayed at home. In her travels, she seemed to grow larger. Through service she found her power. She simply shined when her work inspired her. Anyone that saw her at work saw the selfless efforts of a true custodian to Mother Earth. Her conservation work kept her spark burning, and when it was lit, she was immense. Peter witnessed this on a visit to Jekyll Island, GA. Mom saw it on Antigua. And I saw it full-force on our travels through Malaysia. When she was in her element, she attracted to her all kinds of unique life experiences. For example, she told me once that she received 6 marriage proposals in one day while working in Barbados. This is hard to believe at first, but having glimpsed her world once or twice, I’d believe almost anything.

Still, at home, she did come down to earth from time to time, and had a spontaneous, wacky sense of humor. She had a wonderfully endearing soft side that was perhaps best known by my sister Megh, and her family, Tom and Gabriel. When she wasn’t eating movie popcorn, she also made some world-class southwestern food. Before this week, I knew her mostly through family. As the responses come in from friends near and far, I’m delighted to see she had such far-reaching positive influence.

Just two weeks ago, we gathered to welcome my beautiful nephew, Sebastian to the family. Now here we are to bid farewell to Kirsten. Although the tone of these two events is vastly different, the circle of life is now complete. Birth and death are but two ends to a life, equal in value, and equal in joy. They cannot exist without each other. Death is the one certainty that we all face. We deny it at our own peril. Better to embrace the truth of our mortality, allow peace to find us here and now, and live without fear. For fear and worry only waste what life we are given.

Who’s to say that Kirsten’s was an untimely death? We are but players on the stage, and we lack the director’s broad perspective. Sure there are some questions left unanswered, but there are forces at work that exist beyond our control. Who knows what will unfold in time?

I believe every morning you wake up, you’ve been blessed with a gift. What you do with that gift is entirely in your hands. The fruits of our labors may never be seen. But that’s no reason to stop believing our highest ideal, and working to make it real. Whatever you feed will grow. Kirsten’s work in raising awareness planted so many seeds, which even now are nurtured through people reading her work, and contributions aimed at continuing it. Now, the torch, it seems, has been passed…

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” These words from Mahatma Gandhi were written at the end of every email I ever received from my sister. More than anyone I know, she embodied this message. At a young age, she found her passion, and had the courage to allow it to direct her life, often sacrificing personal comforts and worldly success to win small battles on a beach you never heard of. She will always remain to me an example of living your truth, and being the change you wish to see.

Kirsten squeezed a lot of life into her short years.
She will be missed.

Thank you all for coming to celebrate her memory.

12 December 2008

memorial contributions for Kirsten

while we have mentioned various foundations and websites regarding memorial contributions in Kirsten's name, we would like to suggest a specific conservation fund that has just been established by the Department of Interior's Gulf Islands National Seashore. this is the conservation group that Kirsten has worked with most recently and was very close to her heart.

please follow the link below to get specific information regarding the newly established foundation.


thank you all for your support. let's send this link around the world and let it have the impact that Kirsten was making herself.

special thanks to DJ and Mark for getting this together so quickly and publishing the information.

-dahlen family

11 December 2008

kirsten's memorial service update

the funeral will be held saturday, december 13 at st. catherine of siena church. doors will open to visit family at 10am, followed by mass at 11:00. burial will be private.

St. Catherine of Siena
2501 Centerville Rd
Wilmington, DE 19808
(302) 633-4901

thank you all for reaching out and sharing how kirsten has touched your lives. your support in this is much appreciated. contacting such a large number of people is a colossal task. please spread the word to anyone you think may have been missed.

10 December 2008

farewell to my sister, the turtlegirl

kirsten touched the lives of so many people. through her teaching, her writing, and her life, she made friends worldwide. by posting here, i hope to get the word out to as many of you as possible in a timely manner. as the drama of her death unfolds, and the arrangements are made, i will keep this page up to date. please be patient. i know there are loads of questions, and i'll try to address as many as i can.

first, the facts:
kirsten dahlen was found dead in our mother's home in delaware on the afternoon of tuesday, december 9. she had been in the area about 2 weeks, originally coming to attend my nephew, sebastian's, baptism. she had been in her usual spirits and health during most of this visit, not complaining of any disease apart from insomnia in her last 2 nights. she spent the last day of her life asleep, which we all assumed was the rest she needed. when i came to wake her, she had passed away. the cause of her death remains somewhat unclear, but is apparent that she died in her sleep, and i believe in peace. there is a general agreement that her history of eating disorders may have caused a weakening, and eventual failure in her heart. what actually triggered her death is still a mystery right now, and perhaps will stay so. time may reveal more, but this won't change the reality of her passing.

the target date for funeral services is saturday, december 13. the location will be saint catherine of siena church in wilmington, delaware.

kirsten carried such a bright torch in her environmental conservation work. she worked tirelessly to protect animals and habitats threatened by change. for this, she was my hero. to anyone interested in honoring her memory, i suggest supporting local environmental efforts, teaching a child about the treasures of nature, or simply going outdoors and celebrating the moment in whatever way you see fit. be the change. i hope to have something more complete to post, including ways to donate and contribute in her memory, in the coming week as the dust settles.

again, please be patient. i'll post details as they arrive.
our family is doing as well as we can given the situation, and we are humbled and grateful for the love and caring we've received already from those who knew kirsten.

so many emotions move during such a time... so many questions. in the end i find solace in the fact that kirsten is now resting in peace.


30 November 2008

One More Family Photo

I promise the next post will be about turtles, but I had to post one from Sebastian's baptism for my family to see... It may be a long time before all the aunts and uncles are in the same country again!

26 November 2008

Meeting Sebastian

I don't normally post family stuff on this blog, but I have to post some photos of my newest nephew, Sebastian. I finally met him on Tuesday, and he's already seven months old. The fact that he lives in Sweden makes it harder to stop in for a visit!

Isn't he adorable? I'll have to get a photo of him in his turtle clothes :)

He seems pretty enamored with his Uncle Gustav (Helene's brother), who will soon be his godfather as well.

Gabe is enjoying the visit as well -- check out the wild rastafari hat he got at Disney last month.

And, of course, the four siblings. We're all actually in the same country! We'll get better pictures on Saturday when we're all not sleep deprived from our various journeys.

International Coastal Clean-Up!

The 2008 Coastal Clean-Up on Santa Rosa Island was a great success, but we can work together to make everyday a Coastal Clean-up Day... Help us keep our beaches beautiful!

For details on the 2009 coastal clean-up efforts in Pensacola or in your area, or other ways you can help, click here.

Hello World!

Hello World!
Which way to the sea?