Last night at the end of my Sound Meditation class, it came to my awareness that a fellow Reiki Master, friend, and gentle healer had entered into Hospice. She had fought the good fight with Cancer only to watch it return, this time with death as it’s companion. The thought crossed my mind of heading straight to her house and catching a ride home later with a friend, but it had been a long day and I opted for riding home with my husband and making a quick dinner.
Waiting on dinner, I checked my Facebook messages and read “You should come sooner than later. She seems to be holding on, enjoying time spent with her boys, but her time is close.”
I put down my phone, packed my basket with oils, sage, my drum as well as snacks, water, and coffee. When death calls, I never know if I will be going for a short visit or a long. I ate quickly and got in my car, immediately tapping into my dying friend. Before I was even out of my driveway, I was singing Spirit Song [song of the soul] and could feel the miles between us dissipate. I was in duel reality…existing both in ordinary reality-driving my car, watching the road & the otherworld– a psychic/shamanic state of existence. In the otherworld, I was sharing space with my friend; as close as if I were sitting by her bedside. In this state, I could see her life force and recognized that my decision to see her that evening was a good one. I felt it as an honor and a duty, that death itself was asking me to come recognize such a beautiful soul as she transformed from body to spirit. Her work as a healer needed to be acknowledged.
When I got to her house, I was touched by the way her family was already showing reverence. The love in the house was palpable, and there was a somber reverence that spoke of how much they wanted to honor her in her passing. We spoke for a few moments about creating sacred space when a loved one is passing, and soon they were walking around the house collecting photographs and special items to place on the altar in their mother/friends room.
Creating an Altar for the dying is a beautiful and thoughtful way of calling in the Ancestors to help with the transition between life and death. I have given directions for creating an Ancestor Altar at the bottom of the article.
As her family gathered pictures and memories, I began to do Reiki on my friend and to sing gently to her. My song was a continuation of the song I had already been singing to her during the 20-minute ride from my house to hers. When singing the song of dying, the words are not important, in fact, I seldom sing with words at all. The song of dying is sung with emotion and reverence for the person awaiting transition and for death itself. As a Medium, Death is a friend of mine. I spend much of my life between the veil, communicating with those who have transcended into death. I have a great respect for death, and can honestly say that I love it.
By loving death, I do not mean that I love pain and suffering. I mean that I love the act of transition. Like birth, death is magical, it is more ‘real’ then any other experience we will have in our lives. When we sit with death we cannot be anything but what we truly are. We are vulnerable.
Singing to my friend, I began to loosen the strands of life that were sticky; the places she held tight to her body. I sang and I soothed. I could feel her life force & was aware that her death would be soon and did not believe she would live another day. My song was joined by the soft murmurs of the others in the room. Her children and friends joining in ‘spirit song’, guiding her soul across the veil. As I held my tones out long, I felt her sliding on the vibration and her breath becoming slower and slower.
Then it was done, my time with her had come to pass. She would not pass for hours still, but I felt that it was time for me to leave. I knew she would be gone before long, but that her last hours were for deep quiet and her family alone.
I left her home at the same time as another friend, and we stopped to talk outside the house. I spoke of how my need to visit; which had been so urgent, felt like administering last rights…kind of like “Hey there, all is well across the veil, safe travels to the Otherworld”. In such moments, I connect deeply with my ancient self, my priestess self, the tribal shaman, volva-self. I see this as the holiest of the work I do, for it is never something to plan on, but something that I must do when I feel it’s vibration. When death asks me to pay a house call, I do so with great reverence for both the dying and the spirit of death alike.
We are changing the way we interact with death, we are remembering the old ways of honoring and reverence. Families are interacting deeply with the presence of death through hospice, as well as with the art of home funerals and celebrations of life. We are remembering the sacred and death is becoming a deeper act of healing. Years of disassociation with death; death behind white curtains, and sterile environments, and funerals without connection to our ancestors put a serious hick-up in our ability to heal and understand death. That is changing. Death is an exceptional moment of Spirit.
My friend passed late this morning, and I am happy to know that her spirit is free and she is no longer burdened with a painful body. I take heart in knowing that one of her dear friends washed and anointed her body with lavender, showing love and kindness in the ceremonial act of preparing her body for death.
Creating an Ancestor Altar for the Dying-
*You will need- a shelf (dresser, portable tray in the hospital, bookshelf, window sill), family photos of living & dead relatives, special treasures (wedding rings, holy items, crystals, etc).
Set the altar up where the dying and the people holding space can see it. Even if your loved one is unconscious, set the altar up within their personal space. Invite your ancestors to join you in the room, and to come aid in the passing of your loved one.
My hope is that ‘ancestor honoring’ become a regular part of death and dying. We need to remember that we are connected on both sides of the veil. Our Beloved Dead are waiting for us when we cross, and like our living loved ones sit by our side when we are dying, our loved ones in spirit do the same. One saying goodbye, the other welcoming home.
I hope you enjoyed the read folks…peaceful travels to the spirit world for those who are crossing.