Death and Dying.

Article written by
for Coven Life

I sat with the heading above for quite some time before I was prompted to start typing.
Tackling such a sensitive topic that is so broad, personal and at times fearful is not easy.

As a Death Doula…….

I have been exposed to a variety of situations, where the person is reaching or is about to reach their last breath.
Towards the end people and their loved ones deal with Death and Dying in so many different ways. Others are at peace, others in absolute shock and distress. For some the sudden shock of loss sends them in a state of panic, for others a state of relief and calm.
Some connect with their spiritual nature, others take up a spiritual nature and yet others abandon their spirituality all together.
I have however found one re-occurring pattern and that is, for those that are somewhat better prepared for the next stage the situation is not as stressful. It’s the unexpected, the unplanned the unprecedented that more than often puts the spanner in the works.
The reality is that not everyone has the opportunity to be prepared, however when the work is done even in a state of good health, Death and Dying becomes a little less traumatic, well most of the time anyway.

As a Death Doula it is important that I support the dying person and their own path, leaving my own spiritual beliefs aside. I am there for them most importantly and their loved ones.
I am there to offer emotional, spiritual and practical support to the dying until their time of death.

As a Priestess……

For me, my connection to the spirit world is all too real. My spiritual nature is such that it allows me to connect with what is on the other side, the crossing, the pass over, call it what you may. I connect through the Divine to access these realms.

The majority of time people would prefer to mention passing or crossing rather than that dreaded ‘D’ word even if they don’t really believe in that crossing or passing process. It just sounds better, less ‘impending doom’ like.

My reality may be different to your reality. The decision is yours and yours alone.
I have chosen a path that is one of remembering. One that is connected to my ancestral roots that ignites the Priestess in me with such roles as that of a Healer, a Death Doula, a Councillor.

In the ancient world the Priestess resided over ALL ceremonies including that of death and those that were dying. In this process she was the guide, the conduit, the mere vessel that the human used on this earth for their passing, the pass over, the crossing. Preparing the soul to leave this earth and then preparing the body for the soul’s journey.
She had many roles and a busy life, all to serve the Divine and its creation. You could say that my role is similar but in a different way. One that is more conducive to the times.

Below are some links I have included from the Wicca tradition that may give you a better perspective to assist you in your own spiritual path.


When the work is done…..

What does that mean?
This is not something new, or a trend that has recently been taken up by the Western urban world. Preparing for Death and Dying in life is an art that has been lost in our modern world.
At times when I do ask that all impending question. Do you feel ready or prepared? The answer usually is…. I have all my/ our financial affairs in order and I’m/ we are as ready as I/we can be.
Even though it is important that such affairs are definitely in order, and it is something that I do to assist, more than often however it is of the metaphysical aspect of Death and Dying that I’m referring to.

Asking such questions as:
Have we spoken our truth to those who need to ‘hear’ before we depart?
Are we feeling comfortable or confused with where we are or aren’t going?
Is there somewhere you would like to be, visit or someone you would like to see in this life or the next?
Is there a last word you would like to record for others to hear when you are gone?
Is there someone or something you are hearing or seeing that you would like to talk about?
Or would you simply like to rest?

At times when such questions are not answered it is difficult for the soul to depart. Settling your spiritual debts on this earth before you leave is wise.

For some that have the opportunity they may also like to plan their own departure, this can be cathartic. Asking questions such as:
How they would like to die and where they would like to be when they do?
Who they would like or wouldn’t like around them at their final moment?
What or how they would like the funeral?
All of these aspects can be very important for the soul.
More than often when people are at that stage in their living life, connections with the other world are made. They see or hear people that have passed. This is not uncommon and can be a very emotional, spiritual and even scary experience for both the dying and family members around them, especially if there is very little understanding in such areas. Assisting people through understanding this process may ease their confusion and fear.

All around the World…

Cultures that still practicing their ancient ways deal with Death and Dying in a very different way than our Western society. Death Doula’s in such communities and societies have always been around, preparing the dying and the dead for the afterlife. Usually they are also the midwives and even the healers or priests and priestesses of the community, knowing how to usher the soul into its next stage.
The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and then the Romans held elaborate ceremonies for the dying and the dead. At death preparing the body in a meticulous manner and storing the body in elaborate tombs to be received in the afterlife. It was all done for the soul’s journey offering a safe passage was the primary concern. Death, Burial and the After Life in Ancient Greece.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead can teach us a thing or two about living, regardless its title. Some Buddhists even call it the Tibetan Book of Birth. A book well worth reading, especially if you want to be prepared!

Most of these ancient cultures did not and still do not fear death, they revered it and even at times worshiped it with Gods and Goddesses dedicated to this very passage. They acknowledged it and understood it. Their ancestors were not worshiped they were respected, acknowledged and honored. They understand that those in the spirit world would guide them in the Earth Walking life to prepare their soul for ‘that’ destination.
Cultures that are still connected to their ancient way have lifelong honoring rituals for such occasions and consider this time of their ‘life’ to be as auspicious as the birth, very similar to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.

It is equally important that there is a deep mourning process for the loss and that the person living must have the courage to move on in the here and now. More than often you hear of life long grieving processes that debilitate the living and often shortening their life span because of the process. This is not conducive for the dead and definitely not the living.
In parts of the Amazons where they try to understand the process in their Earth Walking life, people like Medicine men and women re-enact a death to become familiar with the underworld so when it is time to visit, either for the people being healed or for themselves the road map to the path is not that unknown.
Philosophy also has its definition of death.
Below is a wonderful account of the use of the Temple in ancient times. One of its purposes was that of preparing the dying and the dead for the crossing.

The Temple

In conclusion, when the work is done in your Earth walk, the afterlife for yourself and that of your loved ones doesn’t seems as daunting. Take the time to travel and become familiar where you would like to go. The destination is purely your decision and your decision alone. This is your journey and honor it now before it is too late.