Death Awareness LIFE IS PRECIOUS
My own journey about death awareness LIFE IS PRECIOUS honed my attention to my Life. In Medicine Wheel teachings, Life is Precious. When I first thought about my return to Spirit I didn't know what to feel or think about it. I set it aside for a spell to let it percolate.
My Life awareness started with my own people's history. I asked my Dad about our Ancient Ones.
The Ancient Ones
He said, “Our people didn't wait until they were sick and death was imminent. They saved up for years to trade for payment to have their coffin made out of hand-hewn cedar planks and painted with their clan design. When someone died the body was washed with herbs then placed inside the bent-cedar box with the knees folded to the chest. Da-Nuss (dried, pounded cambium layer of red cedar) was stuffed around the body. The box was put onto a platform that was built off the ground. After a year the box was put into the ground.
But Before death arrived to a family our community members stayed with the family to give emotional support and comfort. Except for the clan of the dying person, all the other Clans took turns to make meals for everyone. The whole village was quiet to show Respect to the spirit leaving the body. Children weren’t allowed to play outside."
"...A year after the death rituals there was an inheritance transfer feast. That's when the feast name and rights to land resource-use to particular areas in our traditional territory was transferred. That's how it was passed on to another clan member. Remember our traditional territory was our grocery store so resource-use inheritance was of great importance to the survival of our Clans, and to all of our people up and down our coast."
He explained further, “When wooden coffins were made they were stored in a person’s home. Then that person saved up again to have a headstone made. The headstone was displayed in their front yard until it was needed. But not everyone had a headstone, just our leaders. Sometimes our leaders had a different Clan member build a totem pole.”
I thought about what he said. And yes, there are changes, and yes, death awareness is not new.
Death is Inevitable
My work to grow my understanding that death awareness LIFE IS PRECIOUS delivered understanding that our Ancient Ones were proud to be prepared for their own death by planning for it. Death planning wasn't considered weird, off the wall or even eccentric. It's the living prep for the final exit, a natural inevitable event.
Today, even though death is not spoken taught nor planned for, that doesn't mean it isn't going to happen.
When it does happen, like all Ancient Ones before me I'll become a distant memory then fade altogether. I'll be in our group of 'Ancestors' hopefully responding to prayers, maybe even protecting and guiding some folks here on Mother Earth. Maybe even singing like an angel. I do so love to sing, don’t you?
I put thought to my crossing back to our spirit world and it helped me to appreciate my Gift of Life. I realized death is the opposite of life or even compliments Life, like bright and dark. So I decided to dream up how my opposites look and feel in my own life. I start by naming and listing my own darkness to explore my awareness then drag my understanding to the opposite end of the spectrum.
Creating my first limitation list was eye-opening. My first 'Not To-Do' list meant withdrawing from chaos in all areas of my life. It took more time to do than to write about... My list calmed my heart, an unfamiliar feeling at first now cherished...When I made my first list, the prospect of expansion to my life confused me. So I started with: What do I know feel and think about my life?
Until I spent time growing spiritually and emotionally, literally everyone else was in charge of the way my life unfolded from eating, clothing, learning, work, marriage, my name and birthing my three babies. Then once I got clear, I moved on to taking responsibility to find grow and nurture my own interests. Thinking about death made me dream up ways to tickle my imaginings for my Life to feed my creativity and in the process discovered how rare and tender and fleeting the feelings of Happiness and Safety are. My choice to dive into death awareness LIFE IS PRECIOUS to find myself was my good Teacher.
Listening to Dad's explanation about our Ancient Ones, the inheritance feast and planning for a coffin helped me focus on how I want my Life to birth my dreams before my Spirit-crossing time arrives and I'm no longer above ground and pumping air.
At first I took small steps in my learning that life is precious, I made mistakes, took detours. And all of Life's messy learning experiences grew into my multi-media art shows of poems, cedar carvings and black and white photographs to illustrate an aspect of my Life experience. I followed my creativity to test and stretch my limits.
My Death awareness LIFE IS PRECIOUS page is about my own delicious journey and yours will be unique to you. For me it shifted my focus to learn about our digital world to create this website and, I sure hope you enjoy it enough to 'Like' it on your own social media links below.
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