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Dealing with Death
Submitted by Fergus on Wed, 2012-07-18 21:32
I sit here pondering my feelings of grief after receiving news of friends and family who have died. I mourn their loss. I feel such a profound sense of loss. This world no longer has that person. Their life story, what they became, what they know, what they learned, and what they shared. Their love is gone. Their presence is gone. Their life is gone. Feeling that loss is natural and normal but it brings us face to face with our own mortality.
We too will someday die. We too will someday be snuffed out without much fanfare. One day, we too will be missed and the sum of our life experience deleted. When I was much younger, this thought terrified me. As I grew up, the thought still terrified me. Facing this stark reality is not meant to make you afraid. It is meant to expose the harsh truth that nature has a path for all things. We are born. We live. We die. There is no way out of that cycle. Even the stars and planets live in that cycle. The point is to accept the inevitability of that state.
My maternal grandmother accepted her fate and didn’t want anyone to spend time or effort on her funeral. She told us once, “Cremate me and throw my ashes in the ocean. That is all I need.” Though her intentions were love-filled and compassionate, she failed to understand that funerals are for those who survive. Funerals are for those who feel the cold blade of loss. It is a formal process of saying goodbye to the newly dead. It is a community of family and friends honoring the loss of a valuable human being.
You should prepare for your own death by preparing a will and other documents. Do your survivors a favor and prepay for much of the funeral costs and burial fees. For me, this preparation eases the notion of death. It’s not so scary once you face it honestly. I no longer fear death, I accept its existence. One pagan course I took required the student to make such preparations. It was the hardest and most rewarding thing I ever did. It put flesh on my pagan thoughts. No longer was I mouthing the party line about nature’s cycles and so on. I acted upon that belief. I faced the end and prepared. That act made me more Pagan.
In preparation for your own death, I suggest you clearly describe what you want to happen. I also recommend that you give the survivors some latitude and flexibility to do what they need to do. You’re not going to be around to monitor it anyway so why not give your permission and blessing? Death is not an evil thing. It is not something to ignore and hope it goes away. Death is the natural companion of Life. Death provides the material needed for Life. Death is not the enemy of Life; it is the Mother of Life. The sooner you befriend that specter, the sooner your worry and fear will fade. This will also help in the grieving process when someone you love passes. Finally, I beseech you to allow yourself to grieve, to cry, and to sob. It is not useful to dam up a roaring river. Let the waters of anguish flow over you. Let the natural emotions be felt. Don’t hold back. Flow.
Lady Death finds us all. Nature will always find a way to extinguish our life. Just as dusk is followed by dawn, every death is followed by a new life. Change is the only constant of Nature. How do Pagans and Heathens deal with the death of loved ones? Differently I suppose. So I sit here pondering these feelings of grief my loved ones. I am not sad because they are dead, I am sad because they are gone. And I miss them.