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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in death and dying

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

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On Wednesday, I placed a soft blanket on my lap.  I invited my cat to be comforted. His breath was labored. His body was clearly shutting down. The will to live is stronger than any other emotion or drive. He wanted to live. He was bewildered. He knew he was losing the battle. He collapsed on the blanket, took two long inhales and let out a long moan that was the end of his life. The sound of death is perhaps unlike any other. The sound of that sigh – I cannot describe. Poetry has no language here - my words utter only stupid rhetoric. To experience this is more than can be expressed, but I try. I try because it is vastly important to me to know what death is and to not hate life for its cruel finality. Right now, it is difficult to feel peace with this life. I struggle to understand why - despite the ache of the body and the deep, known suffering - the will to live is so strong. When he passed, it was not like some say, this ethereal light leaving. His eyes shone bright. His body, warm. It was my light that diminished. My eyes were those that shut, unwilling to see the end. I could not sense the sweat and blood, or hear the hum of awaiting insects near the dirt that would cover him.

Most of my life I have been afraid of getting close to anyone. I covered my pain in drugs and alcohol, escape and romance. I hated my body - the body that knows everything - the cells that die and generate, the hold of lonesome evenings, the sharp brutality of disease and ache. Death has been marked in my life with distinct dreams of an understanding my body knew but my mind refused. My paternal grandfather died when I was 16. I remember a dream I had immediately following his passing. He sat in his armchair and warned me of events to come. Later, I would dream of my paternal grandmother who asked me to refute the truth. When I said I would not, her body fell into the earth as I tried to hold her. With each attempt to catch her fall, she fell deeper and farther away from me. My maternal grandfather died a few years ago and I went for a drive along the Sierra Estella mountain range. Somehow I knew he was there, up among those gneiss and schist peaks, looking over the desert valley, a terrain that must have seemed so stark and foreign to him. Whether the Estrella's were the projection of my grandfather's strength, or he was actually there - watching over me one last time - matters little. He was there when I was born. I was to witness his departure. It's an unspoken deal we make in love and community - offering protection only to know there are some things our efforts can never overcome.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Aleah, I am sorry to hear of your loss. I just lost my own kitty, and know how it feels. I also commend you for selflessly using y
  • Paola Suarez
    Paola Suarez says #
    It's been awhile since I've read something reminding me of my dearest Ginger's sigh as she died. How you can't really describe it
  • Lia Hunter
    Lia Hunter says #
    This was a beautiful meditation. I appreciate your experience and thank you for sharing it.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The Sorrowful Magdalena

In my last post, I talked about opening up that big box of crayons to re-awaken the creative freedom of your childhood. The Sorrowful Magdalena is done entirely in crayon, completed in one session, sitting in my living room chair on a cold winter evening. I had no idea when I began sketching the oval for Her face, who would manifest on my paper, I was simply passing time, trying to distract my mind from my prevalent worries.

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you for this post. Blessings on your continued dance with The Magdalena in her sorrow and her joy.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
In death we meet

I had never been present with anyone dying. It's not that I've been afraid of death, I haven't. But if I had been, I would have lost all fear after Arwen's passage through the veil. 

Growing up I sometimes had premonitions and dreamed the future, but as I grew older, I suppressed my intuition. When I chose a pagan path, I figured my prescience would come back and at Samhain it did. During a ritual I slammed with the knowledge that a season of grace was ending and I would be experiencing the death of loved ones during this turn of the wheel.

So it didn't come as a complete shock when my beloved feline companion and familiar Arwen was diagnosed with a terminal illness. In her final weeks we connected more deeply than ever before. Arwen was with me through an abusive marriage, traumatic experiences, she was my constant support in dealing with PTSD, my intervention when I was suicidal, my most faithful comforter. In dreams she represented my soul, my most deeply held hopes and desires. I couldn't imagine living without her. 

And yet I found grace in the midst of this bittersweet journey. I deepened my relationship with the Divine which sustains me and gives me hope. I connected with a community of witches, made new friends, found fantastic new housemates, and saw a compassionate community form around me. All of my circumstances fell into place to give me the most supportive environment I could have asked for. 

In early June Arwen's condition worsened and I knew the time had come. On the day she died, we lay on my bed together and I pet her and hummed to her and held her. She grew weaker and weaker and I laid her on my chest with her tiny head buried into my neck. I felt each of her heartbeats race through my body, we breathed each breath together. She cried out twice and my heart tore. Then she became peaceful and melted into my body. I felt like I was breathing with her, for her. I couldn't tell where her spirit ended and mine began, in those moments we breathed and lived as one. 

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  • Kyndyl
    Kyndyl says #
    thank you for posting this. I just had to make the decision to let my puppy go across the bridge into the summerlands after almost
  • gary c. e.
    gary c. e. says #
    Hi again a poem not exactly on topic of animal friends - nevertheless;... On The Death Of Friends In Childhood by Donald Justic

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

It's 7:30 on a Sunday morning. I'm writing this in the home of Marianne and Dennis, who I don't think are awake yet. For company I have a cat named Skeksis and a young man named Lee. Skeksis is ignoring me. Lee is dead.

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    This kind of loving care for each other is needed much more. I have no desire to be hauled off to some hospital to die surrounded
  • Eli Effinger-Weintraub
    Eli Effinger-Weintraub says #
    Thanks for the comment, Greybeard. I agree that being able to die in familiar surroundings with, if possible, family and friends n
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I am so sorry for your loss, Eli. In other news, I'd be very happy if you wrote something about this work for our upcoming Elemen

The air is cool, the mists swirl, and the veils are thin…its the time to listen to our Ancestors as we honor our departed ones.

Many seekers of different paths honor the life/death/life process and venerate their Ancestors. Traditionally we honored our Ancestors to maintain familial relationships and heritage and also to learn-divination is performed at Samhaim and during the Day of the Dead so that we might get insight on the year ahead.

But what about getting insight into our priorities from those who have passed beyond the veil?

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