Talking about the ultimate transition is a way of releasing some of its power over us. It can help us reveal many of its surprises, such as the power of shared experience in the midst of grief, beauty in the form of faith, and clarity in the recognition that none of us will escape this transition, and none of us knows when it will call.
For most of us, talking about death also means talking about its aftermath, and the experience of loss and grief. If it’s someone we love, it’s as though the fabric of our life is rent and torn by the loss of our beloved. Although it’s painfully difficult to give words to how we feel, doing so in community can bring relief, a sense of shared reality, and sometimes hope. Death and bereavement are messy journeys. They are inconvenient and painful. And, they are inextricably human.
I wonder, do you have any rituals or ways of dealing with death or dying?
I believe that having ways of doing so help us destroy the barriers between life and death, which are really two sides of a single coin.
My favorite practice involves food offerings, or leaving a bit of food for our ancestors in an altar or sacred place. Some people practice a variant of this by setting an extra place at the dinner table.
A simpler, less elaborate one is to consciously spend a little time each day thinking either about death or those that have gone before us. It’s easy to incorporate such a practice into a morning or evening meditation.
Perhaps the easiest way to begin to deal with the inevitability of death and dying is to make time to spend with those who are elderly or in the process of dying. When I know that a friend or relative is soon to pass, I make it my business to spend time with them. My parents encouraged me to do this when I was a child and my favorite aunt was dying.
If you want to explore this more, join us this Saturday for an online event we’re calling Talking About Death: The Ultimate Transition. It will be facilitated by Mark Power, who spent twenty years as a Buddhist-oriented chaplain in hospice and palliative care.
“When we gather, I’ll guide a conversation about life and death and loss. I’ll offer some experiential perspective from my years of work as a chaplain in hospice and palliative care, and some reflection to provide an experiential component to our time together.,” Power said.
“In my training to become a chaplain I found that the most difficult need to address was the need for forgiveness — particularly self-forgiveness,” Power said.
This takes place Saturday, November 16th at 11 am EST on the Zoom platform and is free or by donation.
You can register or find more information, by going here.