Top 3 Reasons Why We Need Death Rites
Is our culture on the right track when it comes to death? We are all going to die. It is something we cannot escape and will all go through, no matter how we live. Yet, in our society, we are not comfortable talking about it much less preparing for it.
I am not talking about setting up funeral arrangements and a will. I’m talking about the transition of the soul and preparing for the actual journey as the person that is going through it.
When I was with my grandmother in the last days of her life, I got to see a lot about the death process and how our society handles it.
I was left with a sad heart. When the Dr.’s explained to us that there was nothing left they could do for her but make her comfortable, I was trusting that they knew what to do next to help her transition.
I trusted that Hospice would handle it with grace and give her exactly what she needed. Over the next few days, we saw her move in and out of consciousness.
At times, she seemed out of her body like in a NDE referring to herself in third person. Other times, she was plainly calling us by name, telling us what she desired or what she didn’t care for.
She was speaking to others in the room that we couldn’t see and apologizing profusely.
The whole time, she seemed to be resisting what was actually happening to her. We could feel her struggle and felt helpless.
We looked to nurses to help her, we tried to console her, but the truth is we all felt pretty lost.
Hospice came in for the last few days and were very helpful in explaining to us what to expect and how to help.
I assumed they were talking to her too, even though she was out of it for those days.
Other cultures have rituals for preparing the dying for their transition, to help them cross over and to help their loved ones let go.
In Tibetan tradition, there are two common meditations on death. One focuses on the imminence and certainty death as well as what will benefit the individual in the process of dying.
The other is a type of practice or rehearsal of the process of death. It allows the individual to become comfortable and familiarizes them with what is to come.
Then, before and after the death, there are often chants performed to assist the spirit in crossing over. In this process, the spirit is guided in a sense by loved ones.
In parts of North and South Australia, chanting is also performed to the dying to both comfort and help the person fully accept imminent return to the spirit realm.
These are also performed before and after burial, for safe passage.
In hindsight, I began to see what was missing in the process. I noticed, no one was talking to her about what to expect in this process.
She was going through a major transition, the biggest that most of us will ever go through. Yet, I didn’t feel like she was getting the help she needed in order to smoothly do this.
Because of this, I began studying death and the practices of other cultures. I began looking into the death rites of indigenous tribes around the world.
1. Preparing For The Journey
We dealt with the body shutting down and the saying goodbyes. What about the transition of the spirit…the soul? What about preparing the individual for the long journey ahead? What about mapping out a successful journey? When someone is in fear, it causes unneeded suffering.
2. Letting Go of Regrets and Everything We Are Holding Onto
What about the process of shedding all that they are leaving behind in their long life in this body? What about letting them share their needs in letting go? What about talking about the death process and what to expect when they leave the body? If someone has regrets, they will hold on until it is resolved.
3. Full Release From the Body
Other cultures hold ceremonies and practices to prepare for death. Then, they have rituals to help the soul travel to the other side.
It is the ultimate Rite of Passage and yet we don’t offer the actual rites to travel through death. If someone is confused about what is happening, they may hold onto the physical body.
Often, a spirit can linger around their body because they are unaware they have died, unfamiliar with being outside of a body, or they are not sure where to go. This may even happen if loved ones are holding onto them.
Or so I thought. Then, I learned about the Death Rites of the Shamans of Peru. It touched me so deeply and I knew I needed to learn them.
I needed to learn them to help others like my grandma, that may have been confused, lost, afraid, or not ready yet.
When I had a practice of the Death Rites performed on me, I truly understood how important they are.
I felt deeply loved, nurtured, heard and wrapped in a profound compassion.
For the first time in my life, I trusted fully that the death process could be safe and beautiful.
Death rites, if done properly can help the individual make a clean break and allows them to cross over to the other side…into the spirit realm.
Misha Almira is a shamanic healer. meditation teacher, and full time blogger.