Where do we want to go?
I was talking to a friend who's father passed on. Her advice, which I've heard said before is to ”Please, please. Leave a plan.”
I sure hope nothing happens to me anytime soon. (I hope to sing my song ”83” well past the time that I'm that age.) However, in the spirit of not leaving the burden on my loved ones, I'll share this:
Cremate or bury me but only do either in a place you can visit. If you are burying me, please only use a pine box. Don't scatter me in the sea or the wind, but you can set me free in a river as long as its from one spot. If you like the idea of a tree, then please plant a tree to mark my spot, and I’ll dream of welcoming you to sit under my branches, to feel loved, to have time to reflect on life by only looking out on to a field or listening to the wind. I don't need a gravestone, unless you feel like it makes sense and is too weird to not mark the spot in some other rock manner. Better yet, just find a big rock that you love, and place it there. Then you can rest your coffee on the rock while you lean back on the tree me. As far as a service, please thank God for my life and yours. If you want to have some music played, OK, just pick a song you love and maybe something I've never heard. Mostly tell your favorite memories and look each other in the eyes and say ”I love you.” As for my possessions, if I go before my family, then those go to my husband and son. Friends and family are invited to our home in the first few days or weeks after I'm gone to find me in some small keepsake or piece of clothing; I'll want to be close to you too, and it will make me smile to know what you pick. As far as invitees, all are welcome.
It's funny. Writing that was really a lovely experience and I'm pretty sure people avoid it out of fear of thinking about mortality.
For all of the dying in our lives, how much do we know about where we go? Centuries of experience - stories from people you know and love - inexplicable encounters - are all kind of hidden. For the most part, it seems like the only public story is: you die and you go to heaven (or hell).
I don't believe in hell. I mean I believe you can live a hellish life, but I don't believe in a permanent negative place of punishment.
I believe there's some kind of sphere, like an atmosphere outside of current life and that there are layers outward after that. This was my notion for a long time but I don't know why. I recently reached out to some friends to ask what they have referred to, what texts have they read to gain a more complex understanding of life after death. Some recommendations were the Tibetan Book of the Dead and Kundalini.
I'm reminded of one ritual in Jewish faith that may be in other faiths too, of sitting Shiva. I still know very little about it and look forward to learning more. From quickly looking at Wikipedia I see it's part of seven stages of mourning. That seems wise. And what a relief for those mourning to have some clear process to travel through together.
I was recently reminded that we all carry our ancestors with us, spiritually. Some people express this with an altar to pay homage to the lives that came before us. It's interesting to think about, and for me, pretty grounding.
What do you know about life after death? To be clear, I don't need you to prove it. Your word about your experience is enough. And if you don't want to post it on a blog, send me a message.
What have you practiced as a part of your faith in understanding and working through loss? What is or your practice of well being and self care?
I hope the taboo topic of today’s post doesn't leave you somber! And, if you are reading this and have recently lost someone, I hope this post provides you with comfort and peace. In the words of a friend ”You are not alone.”
Much love til next week,