Writings, videos, and other content inviting deeper reflection
Beneath the Grass We Remember Belonging -
website art by Jacqueline Maloney
"So strange that we would keep our bodies from the soil, from those who would live longer for the nourishment, even when we ourselves have finished with them. We have customs of walling ourselves off with concrete, with drawing out the process of our own decay with chemicals. Who are we saving ourselves for, or from?"
It’s My Right: The Handmade Death of
Herta Sturmann–by Jan Sturmann
“My mother had congestive heart failure and decided not to submit herself to the indignities of medical intervention. When she got too weak to get out of bed, she decided to stop eating and drinking (in German it’s called Sterbefasten or Death Fast, in the US it’s called VSED – Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking). My outspoken mother insisted I film our family as we navigated this fraught process together. My brother and I cared for her round the clock during the ten days it took her to die at home. We then washed her body, set her hair, and, from YouTube videos, figured out how to keep her mouth and eyelids closed (a strip of cloth and a bag of rice). We then laid her into a coffin we’d built a few weeks before, which her granddaughter painted with unicorns, sunflowers and a giant smiley face. In helping her die, we continued a conversation about death we’ve been having for decades.”
What if We Treated Death Like Birth?
“If we treated death as we treat birth, death would take its rightful and valued place in the circle of human experiences. By doing this — in cases when death is not sudden, and being prepared even if death does come suddenly — the end of life would be a time not of fear and anxiety but of love and connection and a time to access our deepest emotions. For those who remain, this vulnerability would segue into our grief.”
“The crucible of making human beings is death - every culture worth a damn knows that. It's not success, it's not growth, it's not happiness, it's death. That's the cradle of your love of life - the fact that it ends.”
Die Before You Die: The Gifts of the Death Lodge–Petra Lentz Snow
“Every threshold crossing is unique but the blueprint of sacred time on the land is always the same. When we go alone and enter intentional time in the natural world, we return to a belonging that is so much older than our linear minds and we are found by something so much greater than our civilized sense of self. In nature, we can’t help but remember that life is cyclical. Here, birth and death are not separate, they live side by side, feeding one another.”
It’s Time to Stop Avoiding Death–
"The entire natural world, for billions of years, has been an intricate, ever-changing dance of life and death. That’s the game here on this planet. We’re all just borrowing material from other lifeforms to make our own bodies. They dance together for a number of years, and then decay and are recycled.
It’s a beautiful system, when I surrender to it."
Spring Invocation -
poem by Katherine Savage
"I planted the calamus of that feather
into the fresh grave of my friend
who was still hanging around
out of reluctance, she said,
to leave her temporal body behind.
No excuses, I replied.
The spirit of the incarnating earth
has gifted you
Charles Eisenstein reflects on fear of death, in a talk about his book, The Ascent of Humanity
“The human sense of self is changing, and this change will generate a profound transformation in society, culture, technology, and our relationship to the planet. On the personal level, it is a transformation in what it is to be human.”
A Way Back to the Wildness of Death-
“We can work to corral death, once more, in order to know it better. We can try and re-tame it in order to make it more familiar and make us less fearful. But what green and family-directed death care is slowly showing us is that in order to truly make death more central to how we live, we must heed the call of the wild.”
Ancestor Preparation: On Becoming a Good Dead Person - Betsy Perluss
“The belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand. We may not, in fact, know them afterward either, but they matter all the same, and history is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone.”
To work on behalf of people we may never know, for a world we may never see, is truly an expression of an initiated adult. Such an attitude requires some consciousness of one’s death.
Out of the Fog: Grief and Praise–with Martin Prechtel, author of The Smell of Rain on Dust
“Grief Inspiring hope, solace, and courage in the face of loss, author and Tzutujil Maya shaman Martín Prechtel shares profound insights on the relationship between grief and praise-- and how modern culture has suppressed our ability to fully and honestly express our feelings of loss.”
The Geography of Sorrow–with Frances Weller, author of The Wild Edge of Sorrow
“The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them. How much sorrow can I hold? That’s how much gratitude I can give. If I carry only grief, I’ll bend toward cynicism and despair. If I have only gratitude, I’ll become saccharine and won’t develop much compassion for other people’s suffering. Grief keeps the heart fluid and soft, which helps make compassion possible.”
Who Gets To Have A ‘Good Death’?
by Tessa Love
It’s true that categorizing any death as “good” is radical in our death-fearing society, but lurking behind this movement is a complicated disparity and dichotomy: A good death is often a privileged one, and the bad deaths — the violent, untimely, unexpected and patterned deaths — are disproportionately experienced by the country’s most marginalized people.