The Beloved Dead
I pulled up my Timehop app on my phone the other day, as I do most days. It reminded me of something I posted six years ago. “Love the lovely living, as though they are about to be Beloved Dead.” Don’t just honor the family members you think of when the Wheel turns to October. Love the (worthy) people in your life year round. Not just the ones who are dying. I’m living proof that we know absolutely zero about when someone we love is going to die. I died two months after turning 21. (Long Story; Medical science is awesome.) I’m not saying make time for abusive family members or people who don’t deserve your time and effort. I’m saying talk to the people you love. Not just a “like” on a FB post, but actually make time to sit down with them. Have conversations about Real Life.
We spend so much time ooh-ing and ahh-ing over cute Halloween decorations that it makes it easy to forget why we celebrate Samhain. It isn’t the fabulous candy (although that helps!) or the fun of wearing costumes. We celebrate Samhain to connect and reflect on our Beloved Dead. If you’re lucky enough to have never lost a family member, setting up spaces for your ancestors is also joyfully appropriate.
Our society has a hard time with death. It’s painful for us, and has the tendency to make us selfish. We grieve our loss of the person. We tell our selves our loved ones are in a better place rather than acknowledge it hurts. It’s okay. Loss hurts us. If it didn’t hurt, we’d know that person didn’t mean much to us.
I took a course a few years back from Selena Fox on Death and Dying. It was a course for members of the Clergy to act as death doulas. In it she talked about how to help those who are dying ready themselves for the next world. It was a beautiful and moving look at death rites and what they should be. It got me to thinking, how can we make the stigma of death a non-issue?
A sister in my tribe, we’ll call her Sally, is a mortician. Not only is she really incredible at her job, but she’s a bad ass in her personal life as well. I’d be honored to be cared for or have a loved one cared for by this compassionate professional. The reactions I’ve seen people give when she mentions what she does for a living are appalling. All because we fear death. Our society as a whole spends more time fearing death that living as a whole being.
Let’s be frank, we aren’t going to change society as a whole over night. However, not talking about death doesn’t prevent it. Not having frank discussions about our wishes with loved ones makes it harder to know that we’re meeting their needs as well as meeting them where they are.
We can have Dumb Suppers from now until we cross the veil ourselves, it won’t ease the feelings we have about how we acted and reacted while they were alive.
“Love the lovely living, as though they are about to be Beloved Dead.”
Why not take this month’s tea meditation time, and consider how you’re treating your loved ones. Are you spending more time looking at your phone, than looking into their eyes? Have you told the ones closest to you how much they mean to you? Have you written down your final wishes if you’re not ready to have that discussion yet?
May the close of Samhain bring you closer to both the Lovely Living as well as the Beloved Dead.
Rev. Amy Blackthorn has been described as an "arcane horticulturalist" for her Green Witchcraft, her work as a Plant Spirit Oracle and her history of teaching the creation of herbal remedies. Amy has 23 years in Paganism. Amy started her formal schooling in horticulture, herbalism, and agriculture and somehow all of that “higher education” didn’t stamp out her love for the arcane. Amy opened her own tea shop in Feb 2014 and never looked back. You can connect with Amy at her website, http://blackthornhoodooblends.com and like her page on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/BlackthornHoodooBlends