Death shrouds have been used through the milenia to accompany people’s remains into the afterlife. They can serve as a barrier between the body and the means chosen to convey the material back into the cycle of life. In some cases this can mean as a wrap in a tomb, or a cover in a casket, or as a layer between the body and it’s cremation pyre. Generally they have been plain cotton lengths of cloth and used as winding sheets or like fitted cases. Not any more! Artist, Marti McGinnis, has reinterpreted the concept into a living talisman to be used now and upon one’s death.
Marti has chosen to update this concept and bring it forward into the life of the user well before the shroud is needed for the body. She decorates these pieces with meaningful images meant to support how one considers the choices they make in life today mindful of the death we all cognitively know awaits us. The shrouds Marti is creating are designed to bridge one’s considerations of life now with thoughts on what’s next when life ceases.
For some these are thoughts of a heavenly transformation, or a reuniting with God, Source or other higher existence. For others what’s next may best be represented by an almost incomprehensible nothingness.
Living in sight of a representation of one’s own mortality can help inspire more mindful choices in the days one has to live. Marti has created this collection with the intention that each piece is placed where it can be seen regularly, not as a morbid reminder of one’s impending death but as a signifier of one’s present life!
Let’s Talk About Death
Death is one of those topics many of us avoid discussing unless circumstances align in which it can no longer be avoided.
While we comprehend cognitively that our bodies will cease to function ‘some day’ we seem to always conclude that it won’t happen today and out we go into our activities blithely ignoring the inevitable.
But what happens if we make the conscious choice to think through the responsibilities we saddle those we leave behind with upon our passing? Nuts and bolts stuff. Closing accounts. Dispersing personal property. Planning the funeral. Addressing last wishes.
Some of us have wills and end of life directives prepared, but many of us do not. Some of us proclaim we do not want any medical team to ‘hook us up to machine’ to unnaturally sustain life, but have nothing prepared legally to ensure that’s what happens.
And what about today?
Do you think you’d make different choices on the micro level if you kept your own mortality in mind? What if you gave yourself a gentle reminder that this day might be your last? Would live with more intention?
‘Shrouds Reconsidered” is a project designed to invite these tough conversations. Each piece has been created to serve as a focal point for daily contemplation as well as being a physical location for practical information to be found for your loved ones. Each is or has a pocket where access to one’s personal information can initiated. Last wishes and medical directives can be uploaded to a flash drive tucked therein. Photos to be used in a memorial, contact information t=for those trusted individuals you hoed lined up can be included. People with access to your will, accounts, passwords, goodbye notes and all the other final thoughts and activities you wish to assign to close out your time here in earth. Online services are available where you can spell everything out for those you leave behind. It is a huge and thoughtful gift you provide. Instead of having to hunt down all the silent legal information associated with you (bank accounts, credit cards, investments, etc) they are free to properly grieve before accomplishing the to do lists associated with closing out a life legally.
The shrouds in Marti’s new collection are designed to invite thought, conversation and preparation for one’s own death regardless of your age or current state of health.
Each has been created to serve as a focal point in contemplating what’s next and allowing yourself space, on a daily basis, to make decisions that support living life to the fullest in the here and now.
Additionally, each shroud can hold information to be used by your loved ones to gracefully and legally close out your life with minimal inconvenience. The pockets can hold notes, photos, flash drives and other means of conveying last wishes, advice and practical information.
The pieces are also meant to cover your body, casket or urn as representations of some of your own thoughts about what’s next. Symbols of the cycle of life and the infinite are a theme of this collection. Animals and plants recognized by modern and ancient human culture are present as well.
- What’s next for us after we die?
- What is the purpose of life?
- Where were we before we were conceived?
These are questions a lot of us wonder. Creation. The meaning of Life. Death. Big topics! Topics that can be hugely controversial, too. Maybe that’s why we avoid them in polite company. We aren’t keen to discover divergent thinking among our friends. As a result a lot goes unsaid. Fine for maintaining a pleasant social circle, but decidedly unhandy when things get real.
A Lot To Consider
Planning for death can be difficult. Mind you, organized religion, some science and lots of new age activities are designed to help us find the answers we seek, but many of us don’t find as much comfort as we’d like through these outlets. We get confused, feel dissatisfied and kind of give up thinking about this stuff.
As a result, we throw ourselves into our daily activities to avoid these big questions until we’re faced with a situation that forces us to look deep into these unknowables as the only hope for genuine comfort. A friend dies unexpectedly, a child faces life threatening cancer, we get a dire diagnosis.
It’s Smart, Kind and even a bit fun to plan for death!
This link takes you to a page where you can find a ton of inspiration on how to begin to think and plan for mortality. The links provided are uplifting, informative and not at all macabre.