Considering and Planning for Death
This page showcases a collection of resources and links where more can be learned about some of the newer approaches to considering aspects of death. From salient articles to quotes, thoughts, videos and practical links the reader will discover updated concepts of how to plan for death mindfully.
Related Links on this site:
- Commission or Purchase
- Shroud Background Info
- Marti’s Journey with Shrouds
- Death (and Life) Planning Resources
Let’s Look at the Death Positive Movement
In the video below Caitlin Doughty, founder of “The Order of Good Death” website explains why it is healthy to adopt a death positive attitude.
The Death Positive Movement
What does Death Positive mean?
The info below is copied directly from the Order of Good Death website.
These are the Tenets of the Death Positive Movement:
- I believe that by hiding death and dying behind closed doors we do more harm than good to our society.
- I believe that the culture of silence around death should be broken through discussion, gatherings, art, innovation, and scholarship.
- I believe that talking about and engaging with my inevitable death is not morbid, but displays a natural curiosity about the human condition.
- I believe that the dead body is not dangerous, and that everyone should be empowered (should they wish to be) to be involved in care for their own dead.
- I believe that the laws that govern death, dying and end-of-life care should ensure that a person’s wishes are honored, regardless of sexual, gender, racial or religious identity.
- I believe that my death should be handled in a way that does not do great harm to the environment.
- I believe that my family and friends should know my end-of-life wishes, and that I should have the necessary paperwork to back-up those wishes.
- I believe that my open, honest advocacy around death can make a difference, and can change culture.
Support & Thought Sites
At a Death Cafe people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death.
Our objective is ‘to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives’.
A Death Cafe is a group directed discussion of death with no agenda, objectives or themes. It is a discussion group rather than a grief support or counselling session.
Local group in San Miguel de Allende: Click Here.
Great advice on how and why to initiate conversations on death: https://www.dyingmatters.org/page/TalkingAboutDeathDying
“It always seems too early until it’s too late” is the theme for National Healthcare Decisions Day, held annually on April 16. NHDD.org is an organization whose mission it is to help you understand the value of advance healthcare planning encouraging every adult to make an advance care plan for the sake of their loved ones.
Festival of Death NYC 2018
October 27 – November 03, 2018 – Reimagine End of Life is a week exploring big questions about life and death. Join the City of New York in a community-wide conversation.
More Death Positive Sites
Conventional Death Shrouds and Funeral Alternatives
The businesses below sell plain cotton shrouds
These links take you to sites where alternatives to convention cemetery burials are being offered. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
A Talk on Alternative Choices
The video below gives you some background on some of the new choices the death positive movement offers.
Movies About Death
- Coco – a heartwarming Pixar animation of Dia de los Muertos – told in a culturally accurate way.
- Departures – a Japanese cellist finds a new career preparing bodies, surprisingly uplifting.
- Antonia’s Line – a Dutch matron establishes and, for several generations, oversees a close-knit, matriarchal community where feminism and liberalism thrive.
See also the movies in this list:
“Die Wise: A Manifest for Sanity and Soul”
Author Stephen Jenkinson, a hospice worker, gives a passionate explanation of what’s missing in current US culture when it comes to dealing with the very real aspects of end of life and death preparation.
- Dying Well
- My Life After Death
- Necessary Losses BOOK
- Preparing to Die : practical advice and spiritual wisdom forth Tibetan Bhuddist Tradition
Other recommendations from friends:
- Rocio Robles Becerra I would recommend you one of my favorite poets: Jaime Sabines. He wrote a lot about death.
- Bruce Janklow Think you would find reading the book “Being Mortal“ good for your project and good for brain and soul
- Suzanna Roberts I loved the book “Dying to Be Me“ and the first half of “The Afterlife of Billy Fingers“. Also, anything by Abraham Hicks on the subject. (see above)
- Meagan Burns The work of Stephen Jenkinson was very instrumental to my grappling through grief and understanding truths about my own death — as you know. Preparing to become a death doula was also very powerful, but I ultimately backed out and started working with cows, then sketching. Everything I do in tinged with grief, and I suspect the same goes for many others. I look forward to your upcoming show MM
- From Rose Calderone via Billie Lee
I have a wise and wonderful and very funny friend who shares her life and thoughts and such with many. Roberta Schine Gracias!
“Dying is like this. We walk together down the road, side by side, or one leading the other, until the road diverges into two. We stand there for a while together, waiting. Then she turns to walk down one path while the rest of us head down the other. We watch her go. We wave, we call out her name, but she doesn’t look back.”
– Sallie Tisdale, Advice For Future Corpses
- From Leann Pommaville
Ants “burying” a bumble bee because it gives off the same smell. https://www.facebook.com/DZ51893/videos/10210842734459309/
- Also.. Indian Burial Mounds – More mounds were built by ancient Native Americans in Wisconsin than in any other region of North America. http://www.wisconsinmounds.com
Suzanne Ludekens and you’ve heard about the New Zealand Coffin club? Makers of fine, affordable, underground furniture…
Esther Hicks and Abraham on death
According to Esther and Jerry Hicks, “Abraham” consists of a group of entities which are “interpreted” by Esther Hicks. Abraham have described themselves as “a group consciousness from the non-physical dimension”. They have also said, “We are that which you are. You are the leading edge of that which we are. We are that which is at the heart of all religions.” Abraham has said through Esther that, whenever one feels moments of great love, exhilaration, or pure joy, that is the energy of source and that is who Abraham is. The videos below are the Abraham take on the topic of death and the afterlife.
From artist and writer Linda Laino
As I write this, I am on my way back to the U.S, from Mexico on this Thanksgiving Day. Yesterday, my mother died. It was thankfully a peaceful death, and hopefully a release for her as I know she has suffered a lot in these last years. As with all death however, (and with all things actually), there is contained in the grief, a kind of joy; in this case, an opportunity to be with my family, some of whom I have not seen in quite sometime-all made more special since I have been living in another country.
It has not been lost on me that my mother’s death has come on the heels of Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead,one of the most special holidays in Mexico where families honor their deceased loved ones. They do this of course, with rituals and customs that to some probably seem strange and to still others, who fear anything “foreign”, possibly blasphemous.
Read the whole piece here.
Death, like a diver, went through me.
I read my friend’s piece recently on death and the death shroud project she’s working on.I realized at that moment, death has been such a big part of my life, art and….obsession, I guess you could say, it’s been too big to even catch in the net to show anyone what I found.
It started when I was a child and my neighbor died.My father was interested in seances and the ouija board and the idea of calling her back to this plane. I sat on his lap at a very young age and watched the fingers slide across the dining room table as he asked questions.The scene loses it’s details and i just remember a thundering, loud slam on my sister’s bedroom door…bustling, screaming, commotion, upset and the scene fades away.I knew something big happened, but I didn’t know what.This changed our house.This changed me.
After that, I felt the cold, strange air of a new presence in my room.I never spoke about it to anyone, but the details of it’s miasma clouded my room and energy forevermore.That was my first brush up against darkness and I found it fascinating.My father was always interested in ‘the full potential of the human brain’ and so was I.Subjects in the paranormal field were my favorite topics and my day dreams were centered there.Death came again to my Aunt Mary, my father’s brother’s wife, who I adored.I wanted the details, I wanted to know what was happening at the moment of death, and in that house, I also felt ..something..in the closet, as well as the energy in my room was centered around the closet.The closet at my uncle’s had…an Indian.. a wispy image that terrified me and I would ask to leave and go back home instead of sleeping over when I was a child.My father reported later that his brother had also seen the Indian.
3 big deaths.3 big deaths came when I was just on the edge of turning 30.I was closest to my sister Paula and she was suffering with cardiomyopathy, diagnosed young at the age of 21 or so.My other sister had a boy child, for the first time in our family, a boy was born.I became extremely close to the child and volunteered to watch him for months while my other sister moved to CA. to find a new life away from an abusive husband.
After I flew to CA. to bring the boy back to my sister (he was then age 4 or so), I got a call that he had advanced kidney cancer.I literally fell to my knees, as I knew it was fatal and he would be the closest thing to a child I would have.I moved to CA to help my sister and to take over the duties of chemotherapy/radiation supervision and staying in the hospital with him.While in CA I took on a job at a cafe near our apartment as a cook.
I grew closer to the child and to a new friend.Marshall was a gay man who quickly appreciated and recognized my art talent.He moved his boyfriend’s car out of the garage and declared it would be my very first studio.I was thrilled.We ate dinner’s together and I painted for him, creating design work for his part time interior design clients.We drove on back roads and shopped and he shared the details of his life; sensitive and differentgrowing up in TX. I adored him and leaned on him like a brother.I felt safe.As my nephew, Jesse grew sicker with cancer, his blood infusions were now under a new threat; something new called HIV/AIDS.Little did I know as we cooked and laughed and drove together…Marshall was infected with HIV and slowly dying.
Death 1 was June 5, my 5yr. old nephew died in our apartment on the rented couch.An excruciatingly slow, painful death as my sister and I, my mother and her horrible, abusive husband orbiting the scene as the hospice nurse was out of town and we were left on our own.In this death, I felt my nephew…’dive’ through my body..it’s the best way to describe it.I was numb, did not cry and felt happy he was out of suffering.No amount of pleading would stop what seemed like something set in motion from invisible hands.I was devastated for his loss, how he was cheated, and it lead me to natural healing, cancer, deception and food meditation.
Death 2 was a few months after I returned to NY..it’s fuzzy but I got a letter from my dear friend Marshall, that he had AIDS, and the virus had gone to his brain.I felt like a boxer..already punched down, and now another hit, two black eyes.His boyfriend kept writing and calling telling me how much my letters and drawings meant. I was frozen.Marshall’s entire family had turned their backs on him and his boyfriend was the only person he had in life..and now me.I had dreams at this point that I was transparent, a see-thru form, the diver/dying person went through me, I was a healer, a helper, a transitioning soul. I embraced them at the edge of the pool.At this time I couldn’t function well, but relied on my art to help me describe my emotions.
Death 3 was a few months later and the worst one.
Mid June, 1993.My sister told me she was down to 10% function of her heart, but I still had no deep understanding of what that meant.She seemed to have cheated death this far so I did not prepare.The night before she died, I had a dream, but more clear than a dream, I now know those are premonitions.I was on a battlefield in the civil war.I was a soldier.I was shot and was dying..out of my head.I saw the view from above and my essence left through the head.I told 2 close friend about the dream.Years later I would identify this as the crown chakra.
After the death of Jesse, I obsessively painted crowns, but did not know what that image really meant.The day after that battlefield dream, I went to a party for my mother’s new husband.At the busy party I went inside my mother’s little camper to sit near my sister.I noticed her lips blue, but my last thoughts were how pretty she was and how good she was.She stood up to get something and then sat next to my niece.Within a few seconds I guess her hands flew up and lips released saliva..and I knew she was gone.I suppose a blood clot to the brain.In this moment I was in thigh deep water trying to walk to her.I was so traumatized and in shock everything went into extreme slowness and sort of..thickness like it ws covered in syrup.
I then saw my face superimposed over her face, and I saw myself die.Later I would read about veils and precognition.That night I saw her face in my bed and had many dreams of her packing her things in boxes as I plead with her to stay.These –again- were not dreams.There is a realism and clarity unlike a dream.I spent the next years reading everything I could from the Tibetan book of the Dead to books on grieving and surviving but very little came to me in the way of explanation, but it did come through my art.Invisible wires or cords were…held between us like telephone lines and they were yanked out, causing me to internally bleed almost, but no one could see the wires or know I was bleeding.
I saw myself as a bridge, a figure on the diving board, the husk of the dead corn, the white fruit that lost it’s color, the speaker of the spirit, the translator and the healer.My paintings took a radical turn and i went to Yale to study icons and religious reliquaries.
Death finds me. Healing is my passion.
“The road seen, then not seen, the hillside
hiding then revealing the way you should take,
the road dropping away from you as if leaving you
to walk on thin air, then catching you, holding you up,
when you thought you would fall,
and the way forward always in the end
the way that you came, the way that you followed, the way that carried you
into your future, that brought you to this place,
no matter that it sometimes had to take your promise from you,
no matter that it always had to break your heart along the way:
the sense of having walked from far inside yourself
out into the revelation, to have risked yourself
for something that seemed to stand both inside you
and far beyond you, that called you back
in the end to the only road you could follow, walking
as you did, in your rags of love, speaking in the voice
that by night became a prayer for safe arrival,
so that one day you realized that what you wanted
had actually already happened and long ago and in the dwelling place
in which you lived before you began,
and that every step along the way, you had carried
the heart and the mind and the promise
that first set you off and then drew you on and that you were
more marvelous in your simple wish to find a way
than the gilded roofs of any destination you could reach:
as if, all along, you had thought the end point might be a city
with golden domes, and cheering crowds,
and turning the corner at what you thought was the end
of the road, you found just a simple reflection,
and a clear revelation beneath the face looking back
and beneath it another invitation, all in one glimpse:
like a person or a place you had sought forever,
like a bold field of freedom that beckoned you beyond;
like another life, and the road still stretching on.”
And one more:
“Caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace el camino”
— Antonio Machado
“Pathmaker, there is no path. You make the path by walking. By walking, you make the path.”
More From Friends
From Dan Crowley
I’d like to feel fancy, strong and wonderful…..I would….but at the moment, I must confess I feel…none of those things. For the last few days I’ve been fighting off a shakiness, an uneasiness. Like deep down I’m just a baby in a grownup world. I just waddle around pretending to be a grownup and I know I can’t do it. Now mind you, I’m closing out my 50’s and I still feel this way from time to time. I hate that feeling. That feeling that life is for the others and not you. That unwelcome and unable feeling. Usually when this feeling comes to visit, it makes me want to retreat and nap. But then comes guilt for wasting the day, so that’s not going to help. What helps? Looking back at what I’ve done with my life and times help. Reminding myself that I’m strong and smart helps. If I were in trouble, I would want me by my side. I tell myself that I am more than a skeleton wearing a water balloon. I am a story that is older than I could understand. Let he uncertainty go. The grownups you loved as a child may be gone, you can do it. They had days or moments of fear too, while telling you that everything would be fine. Life takes some backbone. You’ll do fine. Take a deep breath. Remind yourself of your gifts and strengths and march out into this new day. Keep going forward. -Dan
we have these bodies and they’re just receptacles or whatever and inside of us there are parts. intellect. “soul.” spirit. all these different aspects. and when the body goes, parts of these many aspects continue on in their intangible way. there’s a whole big universe out there in the cosmos, other worlds beyond our imagining, with beings we couldn’t begin to conceive of. Or maybe someone can, but I can’t. And I imagine that these parts of self, these aspects of self that are deeper and truer than ego, are mixed and matched throughout the cosmos maybe sometimes randomly but also with an overall gravitational sort of pull toward the ultimate good.
and I think we crisscross here on earth
I think parts of former selves collide with aspects that used to mingle in one body, or bodies of people or creatures we knew, and we see each other for these things. we recognize each other through lives.
This Facebook friend of mine –after a close friend of his died and he was dealing with all the heavy issues of mortality and fleeting human existence — concluded: “Earth is just a school for souls to learn before moving on.”
I’m a big believer in reincarnation. The planet earth — and this solar system — is just one cosmic realm amidst countless cosmic realms. We pass through this plane of existence. And in the next life move on to an even higher plane of existence
That’s my hunch.