Our society seems to be at a loss when dealing with death and bereavement. Death rituals are limited and filled with taboos. We are more likely to isolate those working through grief than to ask what they need. Our careers give us two weeks to hold a funeral and grieve before expecting us back at our desks as if nothing ever happened.
Paganism and its acceptance of the cyclical nature of our lives tend to hold space for death and grief in a more holistic manner. Our death midwives and rituals offer a tremendous sense of peace and honor for those who have died and the process of grief. It’s one of the reasons why I gobble up any book on death from a Pagan author. Those lessons and perspectives are needed more and more each day.
Kristoffer Hughes’s The Journey into Spirit is a beautiful addition to the works of Pagans on death. What I love about this book is the author’s mix of personal stories from his work in morgues and the loss of family and friends. There are strong elements of memoir to this enlightening work. Sharing such personal stories has a way of lowering the defenses of the reader. It leaves space for the reader to approach death and grief in a new way. It creates honor and reverence for the mystery of death even while breaking down the taboos in our culture that restrict people’s ability to really process death in a healthy way.
I think this is a beautiful book that would be quite useful to anyone grieving or working in healthcare or priestly work where death might be more common. I also believe reading this book could be a apart of spiritual study that allows us to heal the scars our culture leaves on us from the deaths we’ve experienced in our own lives.