During the Samhain season there is much being written and talked about when it comes to dealing with death and honoring our ancestors. In my practice I create and ancestor altar filled with pictures, candles, crystals, and fall leaves to provide a focus point for my remembrance. This altar lives in my living room where I can see it often. It reminds me of what my ancestors did in their lives and how I might honor their memory in the choices I make in my own life.
A large photo is dedicated to my sister, Heather. Heather had a disease called FOP, where muscles and ligaments turn to bone. She sadly passed away in 2012. The last few months of her life were lived in the amazing Agrace Hospice Center here in Madison. This beautiful place was a blessing beyond measuring to Heather and us, her family. It is critical that when people are facing death they can do so in their own way, at their own time, in the most honor filled way. Agrace is able to provide a level of individualized care unprecedented in the rest of the medical community. I cannot thank the care team and Agrace enough for giving my sister the best care in years and a vibrant, loving death exactly as she wished. The Wild Hunt did a recent article on approaching death that I think is a wonderful read and touches on many of the same things that I do in my video.
I hope that as we approach Samhain, we are given an opportunity to not only intellectualize the power and needed action of death in our lives and in Nature, but that we can embrace the feelings of grief. I truly believe that Pagans can usher in a new culture that honors the process of death and allows for those left behind to be at peace with how death affects them.