The Transformational Power of Death
"Death, by its very nature, is transformational." Rebekah Shaman shares her thoughts with us on this passage.
Rebekah Shaman is an urban Plant Medicine Shaman inspiring conscious change.
Her mission is to help bring nature and humanity back into balance using the Plant Medicines.
My vision is a vibrant and healthy planet, with enough fresh water, soil grown food and clean air for the next seven generations and all living creatures that share our planet with us.
Here we share her piece on the transformational power of death.
"In August 2021 this year I travelled out to Mexico to care for my father who was suddenly taken ill. Although he received excellent care and a huge amount of love and support from our family, friends and community, which we were so grateful for, my father sadly passed away a couple of weeks later.
Midwifing my father to the end of his life was probably the most powerful, intense, sorrowful, life-changing and awe-inspiring journey I have ever been on. The experience made me realise how in today’s culture we’re not really given adequate tools to deal with death, especially the death of a parent, and how, if we’re not prepared, the shock and after effects can last a long time.
Yet despite the pain, heartache and loss, there was also so much magic, so many miracles, and being in Mexico for the weeks following my father’s death has been a blessing and gift in its own way.
I have seen just how differently death is treated here: rather than being spoken about in hushed tones, it’s seen as part of the natural cycle of life and there’s a more open and celebratory perspective to loss and bereavement.
The Mexican Nobel-prize winning poet and author Octavio Paz sums it up perfectly:
“To the people of New York, Paris or London, ‘death’ is a word that is never pronounced because it burns the lips. The Mexican, however, is familiar with death, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, and celebrates it.”
The Mexican perspective on death has been a huge comfort and solace to me at this time, and I think there’s a lot we can learn from it, especially with everything going on in the world at the moment.
As I grieved on a beach in Oaxaca, it suddenly hit me just how important it is to take enough time out to grieve. I realised I had not properly grieved my grandmother (who died last November) It was a very busy time, and I just didn't have enough time and space to mourn and integrate her death.
My thoughts then turned to all the people who have lost loved ones, but have not found the sacred space and time to grieve. Life continues regardless, and sometimes it's not possible to let everything go and look after our own needs.
I felt a huge wave of compassion and love for all those in pain, grief and sadness, and realised that being able to sit on a beach, release my sorrow, and heal my heart was a profound blessing and luxury that many people don't have.
I was then struck by a strong feeling to hold Grief and Compassion Ceremonies, and create a sacred and safe space for people to grieve, while being held in the same compassion and love I experienced in Mexico.
So many people are facing the loss of loved ones, friends and colleagues, and we are having to come to terms with our own mortality like never before. There’s never been a more important time to get back in touch with the natural cycles of life and death, and to take sacred time out on a regular basis to remember and honour our loved ones."
Death, by its very nature, is transformational.