Musings On Final Farewell
Have you ever pondered on your own passing away? I have...
I’m in the process of writing a will. It’s a very interesting process that requires me to contemplate on the experience of death in a very tangible way.
One of the questions I need to ask myself is what I want to have done with my body after I die. Recently I watched with my husband the Polish movie “Mug” (Twarz) and it brought up memories of the first few funerals I attended that were held in the Polish countryside. Before the funeral, the body of the deceased was placed in an open coffin in a room that the person used to call its own. The family, neighbours and community members gathered in prayer, expressing their final goodbyes, thanking, forgiving, cutting cords, i.e. setting their business straight with the deceased, as her or his soul was transitioning into a different dimension. There would be a leader choosing spiritual songs and prayers for all present to engage in.
I remember I found that ritual mesmerizing.
Especially the first one I attended. It felt magical. Even witchy, when I think about it now. There was no fear of the dead.
People sat with the dead and the death, and through the ritual they embraced, they were processing all the emotions associated with the passing away of the person and all it meant for their life, perhaps even pondering on their own impermanence.
Only now I can comprehend how deeply important and meaningful that ritual was. It was a proper rite of passage. I cannot remember how long it took, but I think it was at least 24 hours that the body wasn’t alone (it was in the room until the funeral). That ritual held immense healing capacities. It was a container for transformation for all who were part of the deceased's life. Also, the ritual provided support to the family of the deceased. They weren’t alone. Plus, there was someone supporting the transitioning soul, which is of high importance, when the nearest and dearest needed a breather or tended to other issues, like even organization of the funeral.
After watching the movie I got all dreamy about having such a ritual after my passing away. However, I don’t think it’s still feasible. The last time I participated in such a final farewell was for my paternal granddad in 2001.
I think I may go with cremation. There’s also a question about what to do with the ashes... scatter them in the ocean, plant as a tree in biourn or have them turned into fireworks and set off on the beach? Not sure yet, but I’d definitely like a meaningful ritual to go with it. A ritual that will assist my soul with the transition, as well as help my family and friends to support me and them through the powerful rite of passage that death is, both for the one who is transitioning, as well as all those left behind. I’m deeply grateful for all my teachers who enabled my capacity to see into this mystery of life. Thank you.
There’s another benefit the process of writing the will brought about - getting more comfortable with my own mortality and coming into deeper embodiment of honoring my time on earth. This in turn provides a powerful framework for a meaningful and fulfilling life. Being comfortable with my mortality every moment of the day doesn’t mean I become reckless or desperate, but creates an opportunity to gain a very empowering perspective on what’s of most importance in my life and tend to that as a priority, releasing attachment to all that is not.