I’m a funeral director in New Zealand working with families once death has occurred; I began the natural funeral company 16 years ago responding to deep urges in myself and with a desire to be alongside people and death in an organic and natural way. I have developed a non-embalming style of body-care and have held families in their grief in the first few days after death.
Here’s what I have learned.
I believe the essence of a person cannot be fully felt until someone dies.
We then go into an altered state and realize their value and worth and the meaning of their life for us.
Several things unfold at these times that are worth paying attention to. I believe these provide meaningful insights into our spiritual lives.
Firstly, sadness and tears are a beautiful expression of love when someone we value has left our lives. This sadness can help us articulate our love in the first few days after death and can in turn be expressed as part of saying farewell. If you can catch the whispers of thoughts and feelings you can them formulate exactly what someone means to you.
While it is not necessary to have an elaborate funeral, I believe it is important to mark the ending of someone’s life with some form of farewell. To say thank you for your life, and all you have meant to us, is an important ritual of love and respect.
I believe one of our tasks is to discover what it is we believe happens at death and to allow this process to teach us. Experiencing a death can give us a glimpse through the door as we visit what it means to die.
It has been my discovery that most people believe they will see the people they love again and that the ones they love will be together after death. People say this, even when they do not have a view of what may happen when we die.
It is a common belief in a number of cultures that we should allow three days for the processes of dying and separation to take place. It is a very special time when our everyday awareness alters.
It is a time when we can be visited by unusual experiences, synchronistic and symbolic events. It is important not to brush over these when you notice them and not be afraid to express them as many people have similar experiences.
The more comfortable we can be around death the more we can lighten the sense of morbidity. It is OK to be uplifted and develop a confident presence around death.
Grief is not the easiest emotion to be comfortable with as there are many components to work through, including change, guilt, and loss. People in grief need our attention on relationship; it would be helpful for us to be comfortable with difficult emotions, and to allow others to be themselves – with both their strengths and weaknesses. Our attention is a gift to those experiencing a loss.
I know we can suffer from what to say and how to say it and how to help. But your presence can be the most helpful gift of all. There is no need to cover the feelings of loss or become solution based. Allow the other person to express their experience and tell their story.
Generally, as children and young adults, we have not been taught about the life-death-life cycle of our lives. That not only people die but relationships die, situations change, nature changes.
What’s the hurry to get over someone anyway??
Carry them beside you in your waking day and sleeping night.
Use all those memories to access the love, the fun, and the times spent together.