Death. It is a word that strikes fear in many hearts. To many it is an ending and it is eternal. To others it is a new beginning. Your beliefs, thoughts and feelings dictate which one you adhere to.
It wasn’t so long ago that our ancestors were intimately familiar with death. They prepared the fallen, they prayed over their bodies, they dug their graves or they put them on a pyre, sent them out on the water and burned them. In our society today we are disconnected from such things. We are seldom present at someone’s death and if we are we are affected deeply, yet, we do not understand why. We find it traumatic. Normally, the body of the dead is taken elsewhere, prepared for burial or cremation and a ceremony is held to honor the person who is now gone. Those left behind are left with an emptiness that can take years to go away. I have always said that I am a selfish person. I am selfish because although I know that the one that is gone is not so far away they are not physically here for me to laugh with, cry with, hold, touch. I can no longer enjoy their physical presence and I always want them back so I can do all of those things with them once again.
My beliefs are that death is not an ending but rather a new beginning. Our soul is eternal. We leave our physical bodies behind but we move into a new dimension where we are no longer the human that those left behind remember. Rather we are pure love, pure energy and we are free of the daily grind in which those of us here call living. I very seldom cry for the dead, instead I cry for the living, those that are left behind. I cry because we are left to continue on without the one we loved. To find our way without their laughter, smile, and hugs.
In my “about me” section of this blog I talk about being gifted with walking the dead to the gates. My dance with death began many years ago, although I did not realize it at the time. As I have walked my path I have made it a practice to light a candle for those that are in the process of crossing over. I say a prayer and I light the candle asking that their journey be filled with love and that their crossing be filled with ease. I also ask that the light of the candle be a guide for them to the otherside. I have done this for nearly 20 years. My family knows that if there is a candle on the mantle and it is lit that it is not to be extinguished nor touched. The candle burns until their Spirit has crossed. I always did this out of love. Love for the friends that came to me and told me they were losing a loved one. Love for the friends that were crossing. I was never instructed on how to do this or that I should do this, I simply followed my heart and my intuition.
Thinking back over the years I see now that my dance with death began way before I recognized what it was. The turning point was when my father died. I was utterly and completely devastated. I could write a whole blog just on how remarkable my dad was as a human. He was not perfect in any way but he was a remarkable human who made a huge difference in my life. When he died my whole world shifted. I had already been in my shamanic training for a couple of years and one of the things I was taught was how to communicate with loved ones that had crossed. I know that sounds weird and I know that it isn’t really something that can be taught but during my training the ability became something I could do. I couldn’t do it with my dad. There was to much pain. To much loss. I didn’t want to see him or hear his voice again because that would make the loss fresh and new again and losing him was by far one of the most difficult things I have endured in my life.
Then my father in law died. I attended his death. Literally. I took care of him during the last week of his life. 24 hours a day my husband and I took care of him until his last breath. I was actually the one that walked into the room after his last breath. I said my good-byes and then went and told my husband that his dad was gone. As I was walking into his room, just outside his door, I was shown a very clear vision of a white light. I was filled with it and at the same time I was filled with a feeling of complete and utter peace. I knew before I got to the bed that he was gone. There was no question in my mind.
During my training we are taught a death ritual. I knew that my father in law was going to die so when we were preparing to go stay with him I took the items I would need. After his death, with the permission of both his son and wife, I performed the ritual. It was life changing on many levels. I am not going to share all that happened during that ritual but I will tell you that it opened my world up and I began my dance with death fully and completely. My life has not been my own since that fateful day.
Samhain is a holy day in the pagan path. It is a day when the veil between the worlds is thin and most often practicing pagans honor their dead. A month after my father in law died it was Samhain. I decided that to honor my ancestors I would journey. Little did I know that I would open wounds that had not healed and heal them all in one journey. On this journey I finally came face to face with my dad. It literally rocked my world. It was one of the most amazing, heart wrenching, fulfilling meetings I have ever had in the Spirit world. He gave me a lot of things to think about and he gave me messages for my mom. From that moment forward there was no doubt in my mind that my dance with death would be what my journey in life would be about.
In our society death is symbolized by the grim reaper. It strikes fear in many hearts. In my work death is a woman, dressed in a white flowing dress. Her hair is raven black, her face glows in beauty and her hands are the most amazing hands I have ever seen. Her fingers glow with a silver and purplish color. They can heal a soul with a touch and they can take a soul. She is pure beauty.
Shortly after meeting Her for the first time I was told that my job is to walk people to the gate. I didn’t understand at first. Then I had friends die. I began to understand very quickly. I would receive a feeling or what I call a “knowing” that someone had died and then I would receive a phone call that indeed that person had passed. I would immediately be pulled to an iron gate. I can see it as plainly as I see my computer screen. I would stand in front of the gate and there would be a gentle breeze. The direction in which the breeze was blowing would be the path I would walk down. I would walk the path and there I would find the person that had just passed. I would take their hand and walk them to the gate. At the gate I would tell them the message that I have been given for them personally and then I would stand and listen to all that they had to say.
Some say that they are not ready to go, their work is not done. Others are happy to be leaving. Those that are not ready to go I sit with. I explain that although they do not feel that it is their time Spirit has other things for them to do and indeed they need to walk through the gate. I then listen to their messages for their loved ones. I have yet to walk someone over that does not leave a message for those left behind. Some of us left behind want to hear the message and others don’t believe or just can’t handle it. Either way I honor the living’s decision on whether to deliver the messages.
Once the messages are given I walk them to the gate. I hold their hand until they are ready to walk through. Usually I can see a beautiful array of lights on the other side of the gate. For me this is very comforting. I know that those lights are our ancestors standing there waiting to greet us. Eventually one light shines brighter than the others and I can hear a whisper and I know that it is time. As the soul crosses through the gate it is the most amazing sound of joy and feeling of peace that anyone could possibly feel. I am honored to be a part of the process.
When my husband was diagnosed with cancer I became his caretaker. Being a caretaker is exhausting work. It is rewarding in many ways because there are memories that would never have been made had I not been taking care of him but taking on the role of caretaker is not for the weak. You literally watch the person you love slowly fade away. Their light becomes weaker day in and day out. Your heart breaks and re-breaks over and over again. It is a pain filled journey as you slowly say good bye to the one you love.
I was blessed in the fact that my husband carried the same beliefs as me regarding death. He did not fight it when the time came. There was no reason to hold on when he knew that he wasn’t going to just cease being but rather he was off to start a new adventure.
I experienced things that I never thought I would experience through his process. Some good and some confusing but overall it was a beautiful experience. He was surrounded by people who loved him. He absolutely knew that he was loved and for him, that was huge. I believe it was one of his main life lessons.
Upon his death we all said our good-byes. In my home we honor our ancestors. Without them we would not be here. They are important to everyone in our home. My husband now joined the rank of ancestor. We believe that our ancestors guide us and protect us. We believe they are always walking with us and in turn we with them.
Because our ancestors honored their dead we felt it necessary to do the same for Mike. We loved him while he was here and we knew that he would never leave us but his physical body was all that was left to represent his journey on this earth. I chose to wash him. I used essential oils and water and washed his body in preparation for him leaving from head to toe. I combed his hair and then it was time to dress him. Our son picked his clothes that he would be cremated in and he stepped forward to dress his dad. Once his body was ready the crematorium took him away to be cremated.
I have shared this story with many people and usually the reaction is always the same, “I don’t think I could do that.” For me it was all about honoring the man that was such an integral part of my life for so many years. I would not have done anything different and I do not find it strange to have done it. It was a pure act of love on both my part and our son’s part. It was our last act of honor to him.
Over the last 11 months we have found many ways to honor Mike. He now walks with us and we know he is near. For me he is slowly fading away. This is not a bad thing it is a healing thing. It is time for me to move forward and he has brought me much healing over the last four months to enable me to do so. He will, however, continue to be with our son until they meet again.
I was honored by Spirit to walk my husband to the gate. It was life changing and intense because so many emotions flowed through me but how beautiful it is to see the one you love embraced by those that have gone before him. My dad was the one that waited for him and met him through the gate. I and everyone around during his death had little doubt who was there to greet him. We all knew, we all felt it.
My point in writing this post was not really to make it about me but rather to share my experience with death. I dance with death daily. She is always present and She is always showing me new things that I have yet to experience. I have a very intimate relationship with Her and I no longer fear Her.
This is the reason for this writing, death is not something to fear. It is not the end it is a new beginning and the more you embrace death the more beauty you find in life. Dancing with death is an experience that many are to afraid to embark on. We are disconnected from the death that surrounds us yet it is truly one of the most beautiful dances one can share.
May your dance with death be filled with the beauty and understanding of the precious life you live.
In Her Service,