587-581-5081 Marikarhall@icloud.com
Summer Solstice Eclipse Ritual

Summer Solstice Eclipse Ritual

This weekend is the summer solstice, solar eclipse and New Moon in Cancer, Cancer and the moon are kindred energies they come from the same deep and holy place, enabling us to feel the feels and wrap ourselves up in the caring and compassion of our hearts. They bring us closer to the motherly energies we all possess and ask us to love ourselves completely and honour our own sacred lives, as well as all life. In Chinese Medicine, the heart is the empress. It oversees the work of all our other organs and houses our shen, the light of spirit that animates us, allowing us to know our true selves. The heart-mind speaks to us through our feelings and helps guide us on the truest path of spirit. The peak time of the heart is in the heat of the summer, a time of connection, play, laughter and energy. Just as the fire element drives the heart, we are driven by our inner fire that asks us to step out and dance amongst the other flames, to connect and create sparks of joy and love. Fire, like all elements is in a constant flux and keeping it from being extinguished or burning up is a practice we all take on each day of our lives.

Through observing nature, ancient Taoist Sages recognized that the simple ways that fire was strengthened and weakened. In moderation, heat strengthens fire and cold soothes it, in excess heat may cause fire to burn up all the body fluids, while cold will freeze the body and no fire can start. The spirit of wood with its direction and healthy anger can reignite and replenish our fires and the soothing nature of water can calm an abundant fire. They also recognized that when we go through a traumatic experience, our inner shen will return to Shen and leave our hearts and bodies empty. In my shamanic training we referred to this as a susto and can result in delusion, anxiety, depression, confusion, despair, fear, panic, numbness or pain in an area of the body, sleeplessness, palpitations, difficulty breathing, digestive concerns, the list goes on. Depending on where the trauma happened and our natural areas of weakness. Sometimes these sensations can come up without an obvious experience of trauma  but from something witnessed, heard or felt that links to our ancestoral or past life traumas. 

The solstice was a fire festival for most of our ancestors, being the longest day and shortest night of the year they would stay up with bonfires through the night asking for the blessings of the sun on their growing crops, relationships, babes and lives. Fire is a powerful transmuter of energy, burning away what no longer serves us and carrying our prayers out into the universe. 

 

Here is a simple ritual for you to work with on this summer solstice, eclipse, new moon:

If you have access to a place where you can safely have a fire that is ideal and you will need a piece of twine or cord, some tobacco, cornmeal or another offering and some twigs, If you don’t you can use a candle and very thin thread and paper along with an offering.

  1. Begin in the dark, sit comfortably and take three deep breaths centering yourself into your body
  2. Call in great spirit and your guides, allies, ancestors and angels to support you and hold you in your work
  3. Take some time to breath in the dark and find that place deep inside you that feels dark and unwanted
  4. invite it to be seen and share its medicine with you. 
  5. pick up your piece of twine or thread and begin to tie knots in it as each aspect of your shadow comes up. 
  6. Once you feel completed, light your fire and offer it some tobacco, cornmeal or other offering to thank the spirit of fire for its support
  7. Now place your twine in the fire and watch it burn away taking several deep breaths feeling it release from your mind and body
  8. Now pick up your sticks and begin to embrace the positive or opposite aspects of what you just released. Fill the sticks with it. If you are using a candle write it down on paper
  9. Once complete add those sticks to the fire or paper to the candle. Again take several breaths, breathing these qualities into your body.
  10. add more of your offering to the fire. Thanking the fire, guides, spirit, etc for there support and release them. 
  11. Sit and enjoy the light of the fire/candle on this the shortest night of the year. 

Please let me know how it went and if you have any questions please reach out. 

Healing the Divide: From Complacency to Embodied Action

Healing the Divide: From Complacency to Embodied Action

I am a firm believer that re-establishing the connection between spirit and our conscious, unconscious and bodies is the greatest work we can do and with these truly incredible times we are living in where we are being asked to rewrite the story of humanity centered on our connection with spirit. As I have mentioned in previous posts in Shamanism we believe that we are constantly dreaming our worlds into being. This is an incredibly empowering and scary concept that has truly been seen in our covid lockdown. How quickly have we changed our lives for something we can’t even see. Collectively we believe that it is worthwhile to protect the lives of those most vulnerable and have been willing to transform our lives for it. Now that this has been proven others are demanding this same respect and protection for black, indigenous and other people of colour. Are we willing to transform our lives even further and instead of governments telling us what to do, can we the people transform our governments ( who after all are supposed to be in place to support the collective voice of the people)

As an empathic, white, straight, cis-gendered, able-bodied, educated, middle class Canadian woman who practices indigenous healing, I am deeply aware and grateful for the immense privilege I have in this life time. Not all of my life times have been like this, I have been slave and slave master, warrior and witch. The list goes on how long I don’t know some privileged and very brutal. In watching the Black lives matter movement roll out in front of me, I have deeply felt all the emotions rolling around in the world, the rage, grief, anger, sadness, powerlessness, despair, hope, fear, frustration,… dragged up from the depths of my own ancestoral lineage and my past lives that my spirit and bones still remember. I have had the privilege to be brought to my knees by them and am blessed with the time and space and knowledge of how to process them.

 

My beliefs have all been challenged this week and no doubt yours have been too. It has been hard to witness my complacency and apathy in the systems that keep this world separated and segregated. Acknowledging that I am indeed apart of this collective dream. I can see the very real consequences of having the structures of our reality built on the backs of others and the degradation and exploitation of the earth and its people. The thought of dismantling it all seems so momentous and the huge changes that need to happen are rattling to the nervous system.

But one truth I do know and feel at this time is that we are triggered when there is something that needs to be cleared and right now we are all being given the chance to do some incredible healing work. We each carry in our bodies and DNA the stories and traumas of our ancestors as well as of our past lives and these get passed down to each generation creating our realities. In order to make true change we must address our own traumas and the traumas of the world. Just as our DNA is marked by these stories, so are the systems we live under. The rules that govern us were created out of slavery, rape, pillaging, war, fear, hate but also out of love, inspiration, creativity and hope. We as a species have come through so much and together can create a new way forward.

I would like to begin by acknowledging all the voices that have been raised to share their stories and stand up against a system that does not see or treat everyone as equals. It takes immense courage and a real ability to step beyond the traumatized places within us to create change. It is truly the first step in healing.

So I have been asking myself how can I help dream a new world into being both in spiritual practice and lived action. A world that recognizes each person’s sovereignty, unique wounding and perspective, while remembering we are spiritual beings having a human experience that we have chosen.

I begin at home by educating myself and having the uncomfortable discussions with my friends and family.

I continue to learn about and work at transforming the trauma that I carry and my friends, family and patients carry.

I am working on practicing Deep listening and honouring each humans unique experience, while remembering that they are spirit and perfect, whole and complete.

I will be offering special sliding scale sessions for those who do not have the financial means but wish to do the powerful work of transforming trauma.

I will donate 5% of my revenues to regenerative projects that are actively working to create resilient, flourishing and equitable systems that respond to the needs of society while respecting the integrity of nature.

 

I offer my humble gratitude to all the voices that have been raised to share their stories and stand up against a system that does not see or treat everyone as equals. It takes immense courage and a real ability to step beyond the traumatized places within us to create change. If your are interested in doing this work here are some of the people I have found most helpful and transformative:

Resmaa Menakam

Rachel Rickett’s Spiritual activism course

Thema Bryant-Davis, PhD Being an antiracist practitioner

Jose Stevens PhD, Slavery, A closer Look

The Ritual as justice School

Light Watkins

D’orjay The Singing Shaman

Janaya Future Khan

Tracy Stanlee

Through all of this be gentle with yourself. Our egos love a good opportunity to make us feel guilt, shame and fear. They are our biggest slave owner and doing the work to recognize this and transform it is crucial to being able to make meaningful action in the world.

So much love to you all

Marika

 

 

Dreaming a New World into Being

Dreaming a New World into Being

Dear Ones,

These are extraordinary times we are living in and they call for us to gather up all our strength and tools to navigate them. In shamanic traditions it is believed we are constantly dreaming our world into being and advances in the world of quantum physics we are beginning to see how true it is. So I challenge you at this time to begin to allow yourself to dream. Think on all the things in your life that aren’t working for you and begin to paint a picture of how they can improve, think on all the things you love in your life and how you want them amplified, expand your thought to your family, friends, community, city, country and out across the whole world.

Here is mine:

I want to live in a world that is ridiculously accepting, generous and loving.

Where children can feel safe to play in their communities

Where everyone can feel safe to be who they are

Where people touch, hug, kiss and express their love, joy and gratitude for each other

Where everyone’s perspective is welcome

Where we know ourselves as the stewards of mother earth and care for all her children

Where we use only what we need and share what we have

Where people are connected to their dreams, their spirit guides, their ancestors and their higher selves

Where life is regarded as a true miracle and death is regarded as the next step in a well lived life

Where ritual marks each day and the initiations we pass through are honoured and celebrated, allowing for time and space to mourn and grieve

Where we care more about the quality of the food we eat and where it comes from than our latest new gadget

Where integrative and traditional medicines are valued just as highly as modern medicine

Where companies give back to the communities they work in, take from and are responsible for the full life cycle of the things they create

Where our elders are seen as the bearers of great wisdom and the passers down of memory

Where each choice we make takes into consideration the next seven generations

Where every person has enough food, water, clothing, a warm, cozy, safe home, access to the tools needed to practice their passions, hobbies, work and art

 

I’d love to hear your dream! Please share in the comments or email me at marikarhall@icloud.com

Covid-19: Opportunity in the Challenge

Covid-19: Opportunity in the Challenge

Wow, what a time we are living in!! I have to remind myself daily that this is the world we have dreamed and it is truly amazing to see how people are coming together, how the pollution of the world is down, how we are being asked to move more slowly in such a fast paced world. I really and truly see it as a gift we are being offered and not one to take lightly. Below you will find some information on covid-19 that perhaps you have not come across and some resources to help you through this and all the other challenges life has in store for us.
 
All life is connected, in fact our bodies are literally made up of bacteria and viruses. They help us break down our food and bolster our immune systems and challenge us to evolve physically, mentally and spiritually. Viruses are especially fascinating as they require a host cell to replicate and so parts of our DNA are actually virus DNA. 
 
We can not escape this truth nor can we escape interacting with these microorganisms. It is a part of being human. But many of us view these tiny beings we share the planet with as something to be eradicated. I think however it is more about harmony than war. Our bodies are innately clever and built to decide which organisms are friend and which are foe. Our greatest defence against organisms that threaten our lives is in our immune systems and part of the immune system is built up of good microorganisms. 
 
In traditional Chinese medicine pathogens are broken down into wind, cold, hot or toxins often with accompanying dampness. In order to expel the pathogens we need strong wei Qi and Zheng Qi (immunity) which are built out of kidney and and stomach fluids. If we are stressed, depleted, or weak than we won’t have enough Qi to defend our bodies and the sicker we will become. 
 
So how can you boost your immune system firstly through diet, eating warm wet foods- porridge, soup, broth, stew, avoiding cold, damp building foods like candy, ice cream, dairy, processed foods. We can also take supplements, herbs and at home practices that have been shown to improve our immune systems. 
Vitamin A,C&D
Zinc
Astragalus
Chaga and reishi mushrooms
Moxabustion
Acupressure
Qi gong 
 
Finally we need to release the fear, anxiety and stress as it is one of the primary things that weakens our immune system. Here are a few suggestions
deep breaths, 
time in nature. 
warm baths, 
exercise, 
talking with loved ones, 
rescue remedy,
Acupuncture, 
Meditation ( sign up for my newsletter to download my tree of life meditation) 
All of this goes far beyond just the virus, the incredible amounts of change that are being asked of us are unsettling to our instinctive centre. Residing just below our root chakra, our instinctive centre remembers all of our early childhood, ancestoral and past life traumas. Whenever anything is unsettling to it, whether it be childhood trauma, an ancestor who died of the spanish influenza or our own death many life times ago from another epidemic, our body remembers and the fear rises up, even if we rationally know the fear is not justified by the circumstances our bodies don’t know that and we are sent into a fight, flight or freeze response. The best ways to manage this are with breath, bringing awareness into your body and your environment to remember you aren’t in immediate threat, smudging yourself with tobacco, palo santo or sage and getting shamanic healing to clear the fear and realign the body, mind and spirit. 
 
Remember all challenges are opportunities, For the first time in years you can hear the birds singing in Wuhan, there is no smog in the skies of major cities like LA, people are coming together online to support those less fortunate in need. We are truly at a time of writing a new dream for humanity. I personally am incredibly excited about this opportunity! In Shamanism, there is a practice of dreaming our worlds into being, most shamanic cultures believe that everything we believe comes true and so each moment we have a chance to dream a new and better world into being. Through practices like mindfulness this is what we are doing, we are becoming aware of our surroundings, our actions and our reactions and learning to change them, creating a new reality for ourselves. What better time to try and do this then when we are asked to change our lives and are given the time and space to rest, reflect and dream. 
I hope you take this time to dive deep, walk in nature, move slowly, enjoy time with your loved ones and really imagine what a better world would be like.
 
To help you I have recorded a tree of life mediation which is part of my morning routine and is excellent at releasing fear, worry, anxiety and stress, grounding oneself and realigning body, mind and spirit with all that is. You can get your free copy when you sign up for my email newsletter.
 
I am also offering sliding scale distance shamanic healings. A powerful way to reset our systems, clear our fears and begin to dream again. $30-60/session
I will be available for a limited number of acupuncture and shamanic acupuncture sessions for those in need. 
I am also available by email if you have any questions or concerns.
 
Many Blessings
Marika Reid Hall RAc HDP BA
 
The Ancient Art of Mother Roasting

The Ancient Art of Mother Roasting

As most people wonder when I begin to speak about mother roasting, I imagine you are also wondering, what could mother roasting be? Is it publicly roasting mothers with our words or could it be cooking them in a human sized roasting pan? Fortunately, I can reassure you it is neither, well no quite! Mother Roasting is an ancient form of caring for a mother after birth. As SacredPregnancy.com so beautifully puts it “Mother Roasters are CAREGIVERS that nurture new mothers after BIRTH while supporting their RECOVERY + JOURNEY into motherhood; as EVERY woman deserves to be welcomed into MOTHERHOOD through GENTLE + LOVING + CARE*.

 

The history of Mother Roasting can be drawn back to nearly every culture around the world and today it is still practiced in many Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin and Indigenous Cultures. All of these cultures recognize the great care a mother needs after birth in order for her to be able to give back to her family. By sealing up the gateways of birth, returning the organs and bones to their normal places, protecting and supporting her back, keeping wind and cold from entering her body, nourishing her with rich, healing, milk-enhancing foods and teas and giving her permission to take care of herself, a mother is able to take the time to heal, integrate motherhood, bond with her baby and seal her story of birth. The different practices vary from culture to culture from sleeping on warm furs beside the hearth to having moxa sticks heat your womb and back, having your belly bound with a bengkung (Malaysia), Haramaki (Japan) or a Faja (latin America) to having your pelvis and womb massaged by a skilled practitioner, but all of these practices are meant to allow the mother to heal, transition and bond with her baby.

Here are two examples of how a mother may be supported if she lives in Malaysia or Thailand:

In Malaysia, The Pantang/exclusion period lasts for 40 days during which the mother’s belly is massaged and bound every day for a minimum of 3 days up to 40. This is done to allow the organs and bones to return to their original places. A week after the birth a stone or metal ball is heated in the fire and then wrapped in a cloth and rolled along the mother’s body. In Malaysian culture, the mother is thought to enter a cold phase after birth, thus she eats only foods that will heat her up and her body is warmed with massage and wrapped to restore her to her normal temperature.

In Thailand, during the pregnancy, the father will collect special smokeless firewood. After the birth the father will create a fire for his wife to sit near or he may place a special bed over the fire. The fire keeps her body warm while the smoke purifies her and keeps evil spirits away. The Thai recognize that after birth the mother is weak and exhausted and her uterus is still filled with harmful fluids, therefore they warm up her body to help recover her energy and to push out the fluids. Her body is not only warmed by the fire but also with hot water that she bathes in and drinks and basic warm foods and traditional medicines that she eats.

In the West, I often see mothers who feel the pressure to be continuously productive and bounce right back from birth like nothing ever happened. I have heard many say that it is their jobs as mothers to serve and there is no time for self-care. I think this is one of the greatest misfortunes of our Western perspective, how are we to raise our children to our greatest ability and their greatest success if we are not giving back to ourselves. One of my wishes for all mothers is the opportunity to honour the babymoon and the transition they have gone through, to ask for and receive the support they need from family, friends and community and to take time for themselves. I know 40 days may sound like a long time but even a week or a few hours a day to enter into a sanctuary with your baby and take time to relax, nurture, heal and honour can make the greatest difference in a mother’s life, her baby’s and her whole family’s.

 

References

*http://www.sacredpregnancy.com/sacred-pregnancy-training/mother-roasting-retreats/#sthash.UZDTUqqi.dpuf.

Priya, Jacqueline Vincent. Birth Traditions and Modern Pregnancy Care. 1992. Element books ltd. Longmead, Shaftesbury, Dorset, UK. Pg. 108-116.

Johnson, Deborah. With Child: Wisdom and Traditions for pregnancy, birth and motherhood. 1999. Chronicle Books. USA. Pg. 70-73.

Body Shop Team, Mamatoto. 1991. Virago Press ltd. London, UK. Pg. 120-129.

Originally published in Birthing Magazine Spring 2015

For more info on Mother Roasting Treatments and packages http://marikareidhall.com/wp/birth-medicine/

Walking with Death: A Reflection on death, dying and grief

“Sorrow is part of the earth’s great cycles, flowing into
the night like co0l air sinking down a river course.
To feel sorry is to float on the pulse of the heart, the
surge from living to dying, from coming to being
to ceasing to exist. Maybe this is why the earth has the
power over time to wash sorrow into a deeper pool,
cold and shadowed. And maybe this is why, even
though sorrow never disappears, it can make a deeper
connection to the currents of life and so connect
somehow, to sources of wonder and solace.”
-kathleen Dean Moore

The day my father died, I clearly remember wondering if I truly wanted to be at his bedside when he finally passed on. That evening I had sat on the phone with my partner during a break from the smells and sounds of the hospital and had expressed this confusion in my mind, was it the right thing to do, would it be better if I slept and took care of myself, would I regret it if I wan’t there? I decided to go. After showering and recentering myself with prayers I walked back to the hospital just as the sun was setting. As I entered into the outer room to dress in a gown and gloves my father’s girlfriend called out to me, I arrived just in time. I hurried in forgoing the protective gear and we sat holding each of his hands, wishing him a safe passage as his breathes became more and more spaced. With each one we thought it was his last but it took time and when he finally went I was ever so grateful that I was there. Death is something none of us will get out of, we will see those we love die and eventually it will be our turn. From this experience I have learned that to be fully present and engaged can be the greatest gift we give our loved ones, in their deaths, our deaths and each day of our lives. In this reflection I hope to offer a glimpse of the beauty, grief, love and loss that accompanies death and how vital it is for us as a society to want a good death for those we love and ourselves. A revolution in death is coming as we remember our place in the nature of things and we all need to be apart of it.

It was a Sunday when I received the call at work that my father’s situation had once again changed. He had been refused his transplant and within 24 hours of getting the news his body had begun to internally bleed. My father was always a strong man, full of energy and activity and as I got that call I knew he had made the choice that sitting and waiting to die was not something he desired to do. So I flew to Edmonton the next morning to find him an even weaker and paler version of himself than I had seen two weeks previous, in and out of sleep he knew who I was but no longer had the sparkle of life in his eyes. I knew that part of my purpose in going was to let this decision he had made be honoured and so, my brother, my dad’s girlfriend and I discussed the options with the doctor and after many tears were shed we all agreed it was time to take him off his transfusions and accept that this was his time. The next two days we sat at his bedside holding his hands, telling stories and singing him songs while friends and family came to say farewell. Sometimes it was calm and peaceful, all you could hear was the rattle in his breath as he slept conserving his energy to be able to smile and say hi to the next visitor, but as death came closer and the veil began to open there were moments of fear and confusion. Watching his once strong body and clear mind, fumble over words and thoughts, unable to rise by himself to go to the washroom, his skin sagging, pale and waxy with purple petechiae dappled over it, this was life and it was incredibly hard! There is one moment that remains seared in my mind, we had helped him to the washroom and were trying to see if he wanted to go outside, his favourite place his whole life, but he didn’t understand or just couldn’t express what he wanted and so he stood trembling with our support as he called out for help over and over again until the nurse came and gave him another dose of morphine. My once powerful father had turned into an old man and at that moment it struck me how these liminal spaces at the time of birth and death when the veil between worlds opens are not like any other experience. They are beautiful and raw, hard and scary and oh so magical, if we let them be.

When my father finally did pass the struggle that had followed him in that last day and in the many hard years he had experienced at the end of his life were erased and his body was at peace. After many tears were shed and the nurse and doctor confirmed his death we slowly began to say good bye to his body. I gathered up warm water and clothes and to the water I added aqua de florida, a powerful and beautiful flower mixture that I use in Shamanic healing. Slowly we undressed him, surprised by the shear weight of his uninhabited body and then we took turns washing each part of his body, thanking it for the work it had done throughout his life. For it’s keen intellect and sharp senses, for the strength to build houses and canoe mighty rivers, for the children it had helped to produce, for the smoothness and grace it had exhibited on the dance floor and the sports field. When we finished clearing, thanking and sealing up his body, we dressed him and said our final goodbyes and then we left the room shaken and exhausted, but knowing we had sent him off right.

On reflecting upon this experience there are so many emotions and thoughts that bubble up to the surface, gratitude for being there for all of it, fear when I sat alone with him as his breathing changed and I wondered if this was it, aggravation at my family and how they kept trying to talk to him or feed him despite the obvious shutting down of his systems, anger at how the system had dragged him around for so long and how is doctors were unable of being genuine or candid enough to speak about the realities of his situation, grief as the little girl inside who had lost her father many year before had only just recently finally found him again, beauty in the love all around and ease in the never-ending cycles of life and death. Despite all of this I was most amazed at how I just knew what to do, when I sat present to all of this it came naturally to me, sing this song, hold space, pray, call in the guides and angels. My training as a birth doula and a shamanic practitioner came to the fore and I was able to weave together my own presence with the skills and tools of these trades. There is nothing I regret in my experience or actions in those two days, but there are two things I wish I had done after he passed; the first to have spent more time with my family and the second to have taken more time off work and school to fully reflect and convalesce from this momentous experience. I recognize I lost my presence when fatigue, grief and daily life came back into the fold and the weight of responsibility began to be felt again. I understand I can not always be in complete presence and by doing my work and utilizing my tools I can achieve more and more presence in my own life, ready to face all the beauty, loss, grief and joy it sends my way. This is what my father’s death taught me.

As a practitioner I wish to bring these rich gifts forward to my clients. In reading about death, grief and dying, I have learned several things that help frame my experience and give tools to share with my clients, friends and family. The first tool comes from Joan Halifax (2011) who so beautifully shares ‘Any attachment to outcome destroys our ability to be fully present and compassionate.’ Everyone has a different concept of death and dying and to honour that as practitioners we must learn from our clients what their journey looks like to them and how they wish to proceed, not holding opinions, judgements or attachments to their outcomes. This was one of the hardest parts of watching my fathers journey through diagnosis and treatment. I did not want to see him die and I disagreed with his choices in medical care, especially his out right trust for his doctors. But I quickly learned it just caused conflict to hold these attachments.

The second teaching comes from Sarah Kerr, PhD (2017) from her talk on Death Midwifery, ‘Ritual is energy medicine for the collective body’ and when each of us come to death or witness death we must create, support and maintain the proper rituals in order to heal and set the collective body back into balance. These rituals can be simple and personal, we can help guide people to find these ways of honouring a passage and releasing their grief and love as they send their loved one off. Through listening to my intuition and my training in Shamanic ritual I put together the ritual we used to support my fathers passing, helping his spirit to let go, his body to be cleansed and sealed and our own love and grief to be released meeting the collective body of all those who love and grieve.

For my third lesson I find Frank Ostaseski’s (2017) third lesson on what the dying teach the living to aptly portray my experience, ‘Bring your whole self to the experience- When we bring our whole self we can work with compassion and not judgement.’ This bringing of one’s whole self, a calling to be completely present is what I learned most in my father’s death, the gifts and healing that this suffering brought to me have out weighed all others to date and I would not have so fully experienced them if I didn’t bring my whole self to his death. Choosing to walk this path with him after having reconnected with him in the last few years created a great mending in myself and my feelings of grief of losing my father as a young girl. Though I could not prevent his leaving this time I was able to be fully present during his passage.

The fourth Teaching comes from Stephen Jenkinson (2012) in his talk for The Compassion Choices Conference, He states that ‘Death is not the end of health, but an enhancement of health and your ability to be a deeply present human being.’ I feel this is key to shifting our perspectives on death and dying, framing it currently as a lost battle or not being healthy anymore makes us feel like we have lost, but death is part of the process and if we can embrace it as such we can return to the harmony that it brings to the planet and the enrichment it adds to our lives.

Finally as Francis Weller (2005) so poetically shares ‘In truth, without some familiarity with sorrow, we do not mature as men and women. It is the broken heart, the part that knows sorrow, that is capable of genuine love.’(p.9). One of the greatest gifts I have received from my father’s death is this maturing of a maiden into a woman. I will never be the same again and I am ever so thankful for that.

As far as deaths go I believe my father had a good one. It may have been earlier than expected and his illness may have caused him much pain and worry, but ultimately when he knew there was no more hope and decided it was time he was supported in that. Death played the central role, as Stephen Jenkinson (2012) suggests it should and we his family were at his side. We were given the space to support him as we saw fit and each one of the nurses and doctors kept their distance except to aid in cleaning up or giving him more morphine to ease his pain and confusion. In coming together we knew we could do this, as he knew he could and I can not imagine a better way to go. Many cultures speak of death as crossing a river from the village of the living to the village of the ancestors, the living’s grief and love met with the joy and welcome of the ancestors help get the dead safely across, Sarah Kerr (2017). In my father’s case I know he was held the whole way and when it is my time to go he will be there to welcome me. Until that day I will continue to cultivate presence in the hardest of situations life brings and work on bringing a good death to all I know. May the future hold a good death for us all.

References
Halifax, J. (2011) Joan Halifax: Compassion and the true meaning of Empathy. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQijrruP9c4&t=17s

Jenkinson, S. (2012) The Skill of Brokenheartedness: Euthanasia, Palliative Care and Power – Stephen Jenkinson. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dbmXWLCaRg&t=55s

Kerr, S. (2017) An introduction to Death Midwifery with Sarah Kerr, PhD. James Bay United Church. 13/07.

Ostaseski, F. (2017) Frank Ostaseski: What the Dying teach the living. Available from:
http://longnow.org/seminars/02017/apr/10/what-dying-teach-living/

Weller, F. (2015) The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief. Berkeley, California. North Atlantic Books. pp.9.

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