When my husband passed away 13 years ago we hadn't talked about what kind of funeral he wanted. At 25, I was too afraid to have the conversation. When my 98-year-old great-grandmother passed last month on the hunter's full moon, I finally found the courage to consider what I would hope for upon my passing.
It's one of those difficult and powerful conversations, the kind that set us free to live fuller, love bigger and fear less. What do you want upon your passing? How does contemplating your death inform your life? What would you say or do today if you knew you would not be here tomorrow?
When I'm gone please don't have a funeral,
but do gather in some wild outdoor space.
Don't hold on to society's standards of loss,
but do hold on to your loved ones.
Let everyone speak or have the opportunity to speak. If they choose not to speak just let there be silence where the words would be. Hold the space for their choice to be heard.
Don't praise the good and downgrade the bad, just say it how it was, not how we would have liked it to be.
Let there be singing or chanting or wailing, whatever it is you do.
Open your throat and let it rise from your belly like our ancestors did.
Let there be dancing, as awkward as it will feel. Let the grief move through your bones however it will.
Let there be flowers. Not the perfect kind but the wild kind that don't match and know how to be messy and beautiful at the same time.
Bring your fear with you, on your face or in your pocket. The fear of stepping outside the box, the fear of death, the fear of breaking open, the fear of not knowing what to do or not knowing what to say.
Bring your love with you. The kind you reserve for your partner or your children. Bring it in buckets and share some with everyone you meet.
When it's time to part I hope you part slowly, after a collective exhale, maybe pausing at the bottom of the breath until you feel that urgency to breathe, that urgency to live.
And then go live.