Dream Death Imaginings
As we journeyed with deathkeeping this month, we had opportunities to move through different layers of our feelings around death and dying. In one of these invitations, students were asked to imagine their dream death, including preferences on medical interventions and levels of care, end of life ceremonial wishes and choices about how they would like their body handled after death. Here is a passage from the dream death planning of Carrie Poe, Song of Sophia student.
“I would like to die at home in bed, surrounded by loved ones. If my family/beloveds need support to help me die at home, hospice is acceptable. I request that a sister who I have journeyed with come and be the death doula and hold the container for my family during this time. If this is not possible, I would like the caregiver to be plant focused with a strongly organic womb entrainment. Someone with birth work experience, a body and lightworker, a seasoned midwife of consciousness.
Please advocate for me to receive as little medication as possible. I want to be conscious and present to my process far more than I want to be ‘comfortable.’ Remind me of this if necessary. I would like my bed to face the window, really as close to the window as I can be is perfect. Ways I would like to spend time with loved ones during my last days:
- Bring me fragrant plants I love and lay them on my chest. Rosemary, Lavender, Angelica, Yarrow, Rose– likely any green plant will bring me joy.
- Mist Rosewater over my head and body
- Give me smoke baths
- Massage my hands and feet with anointing oils
- Play your drum or another musical instrument at my bedside
- Sing to me
- Tell me about your dreams, hopes and fears
- Read me poetry or mythology
- Bring your children with their artwork, crafts, instruments, things they are interested in and proud of.
- Sit quietly with me and look out the window
If there is time early in the death process, please hold a Living Vigil for me. I want a selection of my favorite soups, fresh baked bread, sliced fruit, butter cookies, and tea (chamomile tea, licorice tea, other herbals). I’d like pictures of my life, especially my babies over the years. Sing to me and sing with me! Tell me stories about our experiences together and listen to my stories. Receive my blessings and give me yours. Gaze into my eyes and meet me there.
Bring my medicine bag for me if I need you to and bring yours. I want to share in the medicine of this moment. I want everyone to arrive as they are in that moment, happy, sad, angry, grieving, frozen. I welcome these individual death processes into the ceremony of my death. I welcome whatever arises in your body and soul- please share this authentically with me.
Hold a Death Vigil for me as I depart. When I have stopped eating and drinking, please bring food to my home and eat it together. I would like my dearest beloveds to be by my side through this transition. Those closest to me will know what energies aren’t helpful to my process, please be the gatekeepers. I do not want screens or other technology for the most part. Maybe to show me a picture or something if necessary but please do not keep them near me.
If I am partially asleep with eyes closed and unresponsive, I still want close companionship, just more and more quietly. Please continue to sing, speak softly to me, hold my hand and place your hand on my forehead. I’d like songs about the Mystery, Sophia, Yeshua, love and grief, and lullabies I sang to my babies. I’d like purifications of smoke, sprays, and sound periodically. Anoint me with Noya Rao and have candles lit.
After my heart stops beating, allow me to rest here for a time. Stay with me as I am slowly transitioning- please do not be rushed with this, I’d like for this to be a spacious time to gather everything up in my own time. Kiss my forehead, and the backs of my hands, lay your hand on my head, just sit with me here.
When it feels right, I’d like for my sisters, my daughters, and my mothers to clean my body with fresh spring water or water from the bay. Baptize my body for rebirth with sprinkles from a cedar branch. Anoint me with Noya Rao, bathe me in smoke. Sing your prayer songs to me. Transmission songs of the moment, songs from Eliza, icaros from the plants, and other prayer songs that want to be sung. Dress me in the clothing I have chosen (if I have not chosen, I would like my daughters to choose for me). Surround me with my plant allies. I’d love yarrow, rosemary, lavender, chamomile, angelica, rose, any wildflowers or herbs in abundance on the land if in season. Colored leaves would be nice if it’s fall, or some nice green moss and pine bows if early spring.
I’d like to stay at home for one to two days, or more if my family requests this. I’d like a keening ceremony if the grief wants to move this way. Set up a home open house during this time with food and drink available for those who loved me to come and go and spend time together in grief and celebration of my life. Hold a ceremony of life for me during this time. I would like my family to know that I am still available for co-creation with them. Even though I have left my body, my love will never leave them. I would like them to know that though my soul travels on I will be visiting them from time to time and am available to support them.
Please bury me in a simple organic fiber shroud in the earth. I would like to be out in the woods if possible. DO NOT embalm me and bury me in a vault. I don’t want to be buried in a traditional cemetery. I want a place that retains its wildness. Plant some herbs and sprinkle some wildflower seeds and mushroom spores on the grave.
Return to my home or a place on the earth I loved and hold ceremony together for me. I would be so grateful if my Song of Sophia sisters would see me across the veil. This assignment has brought forward how very important this is to me. I would like to set up a fund to help sisters come together and sit in ceremony circle together to witness and guide my passing and transition. Please guide my daughters through this process if they are not fully initiated.”