Death is but a gateway, to where to, I am not exactly sure. As someone who talks to spirits, I only get tidbits of information from the other side. I try to comfort my Mother with reassurances of what I know from talking to the dead and from others who had experiences of connecting through the veil. My Mother and I have had some unusual conversations. From what happens to her soul when she take her last breath, to funeral arrangements and how she will send me a sign from the other side. She says she is ok with her ashes being buried with my dad, even if they didn’t always get along in this life!
My mother is almost 92 and in the past few months and it has been very difficult to watch a rapid deterioration of someone I love deeply. She spends all her time at the nursing home in bed with undiagnosed stomach pain. More tests to be done to find the source but she says, she is ready to die. She says, she has no fear of death.
I know that she is not totally tethered to this world anymore. I quietly walk into her room and sense the changes from last time I was there, before announcing myself. She is blind and hard of hearing. She always responds with “What’s new?” She just wants to hear a familiar voice and is happy someone came to visit. She is forgetful sometimes and repeats a lot, but I have learned patience.
Instead of thinking of this as a burden, I think of it as a gift. I learned to slow down, breathe, listen and be fully present, like being in a contemplative pray full state, when I’m with her. Soon I know, all I will have is memories. With that in mind, I try to go as often as I can. As a medium, I know our loved ones are always watching over us, but its not same as someone physically with us. A hold to hold or a smile to brighten our days. Even a medium grieves as someone they love, slips away.
“of all the mysteries of life, perhaps death is the strangest reality of the human experience” Song lyric by switchfoot called- Slipping away.
I recently read a fictional story that began with three sisters discussing their Mother. Their mother had spent the 3 weeks grieving over the death of her husband and avoiding friends and social events. The daughters wanted their mother back to ‘normal’ and they needed to find a way to do it. No talk of they felt about their dad’s passing, the goal was to fix Mom now!
I was so angry, even though this was a work of fiction. I had to really think about why this bothered me so much. I think some of us do try to rush through the grief process, to get back to ‘normal.’ Most people don’t want to talk about death, or know how help those who are grieving in a healthy way. I know from personal experience, family members all grieve differently and life is never the same again. A change has happened. This is true not just for not loved ones, but for friends, pets, health issues, divorce or job loss, you grieve for what once was. It takes time to come to terms with your new reality.
My youngest son passed away at the age of 19. It was unexpected and his death changed the lives of many who loved him. The death of a child is different than that of a parent. It’s been many years now and I still think of him everyday. I used to keep myself extremely busy around the important dates such as anniversary of his death and it exhausted me. I had to find a new way to cope. I gave up planning anything, I just go with the flow I have learned to ride the grief wave. I don’t know when it will hit, usually a week before the anniversary of his death or sometimes a month before. I don’t recognize it at first, why I’m suddenly feeling so blue. Then I say ” Hello grief, my old friend” Then one morning, I will wake up and that deep sadness has slipped away. Time doesn’t heal wound completely. It’s an acceptance and I have grown for sure in a good way. We do a have choice how we react to what life throws at us. Life takes us on roads we rather avoid but there is dening it, its an adventure. Sometimes life is stranger than fiction!
Unlike that book of fiction, I did find talking to people about my grief was a great healer and I did go to grief counseling. I have a wonderful friend who phoned almost everyday for many months to see how I was doing. It helped her to too, as my son was like one of her own children. My advice, if you are experiencing a loss of any kind, seek help. There are people willing to help and to listen. I am one of them.
As a wedding officiant, one question I ask when discussing a couple’s ceremony is, “Are you going to write your own vows?” Alot of times this question is met with silence first, then a brief look is exchanged, followed by disappearing smiles as fear envelops them. And 80% of the time they reply, they would be too intimated to stand in front of everyone reading something so personal or they don’t know how to write their vows. It is overwhelming and there is enough stress with a wedding. Or English is not their first language and they feel this a barrier to communicating.
I have to say, I love to hear the vows couples write themselves. It brings everyone to tears. I understand how hard it can be to stare at a blank page trying to write something heartfelt. Then your afraid you will become a nervous wreck, standing in front of a room full of people and expressing your feeling to your beloved.
The one thing to remember is, you only have focus on the person your about to marry. Blocking out everyone else. Your vows need not be long, a few sentences, a special memory, the best thing about being in love with them and why you want to spend your life with them.
I have had people send their vows to me to read over, mainly because English was not their first language. To be honest, because it comes from the heart, it’s always perfect. I only suggest a few changes to sentence structure for it to sound better, but it always surprises me. Trust yourselves. It’s ok to shed those tears men! It is after all, a day you want to remember!
Sunday I attended a burning bowl ceremony. Well it was more like a burning bucket ritual. Many people wanted to participate from the very young to the elderly. A lovely, middle aged lady read a pointe paragraph from Mark Nepo’s – The book of Awakenings. She then lead us through a meditation exercise to calm and center ourselves.
Each person wrote what was important to them and then we placed the paper in the bucket. Several people sang as we watched our notes to the universe became ashes. It was beautiful and tender. I let out a deep sigh when the last of the flames died. I knew then, I had released something that I had been carrying for awhile. I felt lighter and truly full of light, I had finally let it go. I guess I was ready. The act of writing and purging is very healing. I think it’s why I like this kind of ritual.
As we end the year, we say goodbye and get ready for new beginnings.
As we begin a new year, remember to have fun, dream big, release what no longer serves you and laugh a lot!
Abundant Blessings for the coming year.
We are approaching the darkest days of the year. The winter solstice, historically celebrated by pagans and Christians when darkness descends on us. We decorate with vibrant Christmas colors and the smell of evergreens trees and green wreaths fills the home. It’s a lovely way to bring more cheer inside while waiting for the sun’s return.
I like the idea of a tree planting ceremony at a wedding. The bride and groom together fills a pot with soil from some place meaningful to each of them. It can then be planted at their home to mark the beginning of a new life together.
Trees can be planted to celebrate the birth of a baby or adoption. Wonderful way to watch them grow together and someday the child can climb and hide under the canopy of foliage on thick branches.
To commemorate the death of a pet or our loved ones. Sprinkling their ashes in the soil of a sapling bought just for the them. Maybe they were fond of certain kind of tree or one that has significant meaning to you. Burying a beloved pet under a tree, children get a chance to say goodbye in their own way. They can create their own ritual, especially if this was the first death they had experienced.
If you don’t have space to plant, there are places like the Guelph Arboretum where you can have a specific tree dedicated with an engraved plaque. A bit more costly than a funeral home like Wall-Custance in Guelph. They have a memorial forest project at the arboretum and donations can made in honor of your friends and loved ones, with a group ceremony planting in spring-fall. So many wonderful possibilities to explore.
I’m going out today to refill my bird feeder that hangs on an old maple tree. I love to see the hungry chickadees, nuthatches and the little woodpecker who come to visit this time of year. I want to cut cedar to make a door wreath on this gloomy day to bring in some holiday happiness. Without trees, the landscape would be dull indeed.
Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life. Albert Einstein
Happy holidays and abundant blessings in the new year to come.
I recently went to a home funeral workshop and it gave me new ideas and insights into the non traditional funeral options. Strange as it sounds, I was excited about the possibilities of how we can honor our loved ones with rituals to celebrate their life while dying and after they are gone.
When my son passed away unexpectedly several years ago, no one in the family was prepared for it. We stumbled through, as grief assaulted us. Looking back now, I don’t know how we managed not to fall completely apart. Fortunately we were surrounded by wonderful people who lifted us up when we needed it most.
My mother is almost 91 and I am more prepared for what is to come. What I did learn from my son’s death, was that it needs to be talked about. My mother has told me what her wishes are. Until last weekend I had not written anything down. Writing a ‘death plan’ is not pleasant. My mom wants a card board casket and to be cremated right away. No fancy fanfare and her ashes to put in the grave with my father.
I have known people who do not want to talk about death. It’s not a typical topic of conversation. If time allows, I feel being prepared is good way to help everyone to accept the inevitable. My mother’s mind is slowly slipping away. She can’t remember yesterday, but can describe a Christmas ornament she purchased 40 years ago in detail. I see the decline and it breaks my heart. I want to honor her wishes. I want to record some of her stories before her mind slips away, because you never know how much time any of us really have.
The ancient art of blessing a home, also know as house healing or clearing is a wonderful way to cleanse your space. Great for newly married couples, even if they have lived together before marriage, it signifies a change in the relationship. Wonderful way to welcome the arrival of a baby or celebrate blended families. After purchasing a home or completing renovations, death or divorce. It brings peace, harmony and changes the energy patterns. Infusing you space with new Intentions and uplifting the spirits of all who live there and everyone who enters your sacred abode. You can have a priest/minister like me, to do it for you. Blessing salt or holy water sprinkled with a cedar sprig and using anointing oil can be used on the windows and doors. Special prayers are said as each room is entered.
You can do it by yourself or with a circle of family and friends. Using a white candle for purity or pink for love and carry it into each room along with incense, smudge stick or sweet grass. Saying prayers or intentions, affirmations that are meaningful to you. Such as – ” May this be a scared dwelling for my family and all who enter this home. May each person feel peace and love.’ When your done, leave the candle burning for about 1 hour after wards.
There are so many great versions of performing house blessing for different beliefs and religions. Its a fun way to experiment cause there is no wrong way to do it. And can be done whenever you wish.
Wings of Love Celebrations
Services offered- Wedding officiant, life celebrations and funerals, baby naming, baptizing, vow renewal and elopements, house blessings and clearings.
Simple and sweet ceremonies, same sex, non-religious & religious, civil, interfaith.