My mom told me about working as a travelling home economist in the early 1960’s. An elderly woman pulled her aside one day, and in all seriousness, asked her where heaven was.
In the heightened emotion around a death, not having to make decisions about disposition can be a relief. It might also leave things hanging, ritually speaking.
Just as it does at a birth, the veil between the worlds thins during a death, and the other side of the river can become more visible.
The problem with trying to have a happy funeral is, that when someone we love dies, we aren’t happy, we’re sad. There can be parts of a funeral that have happiness. But when someone we care about dies, the normal and natural
Families have the option to care for the bodies of their deceased loved ones at home. For those who chose this option, the experience is personal, meaningful, and deeply healing.
Before industrial technology, we returned our dead to the earth directly through the transformative powers of Air, Fire, Water and Earth. We can still do that today.
If you have someone’s ashes in your house, it’s probably for one of three reasons. First, you may be holding onto ashes because it’s the right thing for you to do.
Here’s an audio recording of the paper for the 2017 Arts and Religion track of the American Academy of Religion conference. The topic was “A good death is a ritual of initiation for everyone involved.”
All my mother’s ancestors are buried in the same small graveyard. There has been a steady trickle of family members join them around that tree over the last 80 years