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Create and Conduct Meaningful End-of-Life Rituals
Ritual done well is a memorable experience that requires time, attention, and intention to create and to conduct. Meaningful end-of-life rituals are the result of the collaborative efforts of family members, friends, clergy, and funeral service professionals. By following a step by step process of listening, educating, inviting, and conducting, we honor the deceased and initiate the process of mourning via meaningful ritual.
Ritual ROCKS ! The Whys and Hows of Conducting Ritual
Is ritual relevant in the 21st century? Is ritual really worth the bother? In order to answer these questions, we need a basic understanding of the Whys and Hows of conducting ritual—particularly end-of-life ritual. The purpose of ritual is timeless—the integration of the mind, body, and spirit during times that defy explication. Through the process of composing, conducting, and experiencing meaningful rites, we gradually integrate loss into the fabric of our being. By so doing, we confront the reality of our mortality and gain an enhanced appreciation of LIFE! So yes, ritual IS relevant. Ritual IS worth the bother. In fact,RitualROCKS!
Beyond Belief: The Challenge of Undeserved Suffering and Loss
As human beings, we learn early in life that to live is to suffer. Although the experience of suffering is never pleasant or welcomed, this is not the greatest threat in life. Rather, the most daunting challenge for human beings is meaningless suffering, suffering that exceeds our ability to comprehend. Inexplicable suffering and undeserved loss test our foundational beliefs, literally bringing us to our knees and prompting us to question all that we believe to be true. It is during the times that try our souls that we rely on our spiritual beliefs. What happens if our foundational beliefs fail to support or sustain us during the trying times? Where do we turn when our life circumstances are beyond belief? Explore these questions and more as we examine the timeless story of Job.
Although we live in a death-averse society, most of us are curious about what happens after we die. What’s next? Religious traditions offer insights as to what life after death affords believers of a particular faith. Some depictions of the afterlife are quite favorable and thus inviting whereas others are somewhat concerning and fear provoking. Historically, human beings have been fascinated by accounts of near-death experiences—stories that give us a glimpse of what the afterlife might entail. We will briefly review the historical documentation of near-death experiences and then focus our attention on current research and writings in the field. It’s doubtful we’ll answer the question of "What’s Next?" to everyone’s satisfaction—but we’ll have fun trying!
The Heart and Soul of Ritual: Connection
There is much discussion and debate regarding the changing nature of ritual in the 21st century, particularly related to ritual at end-of-life. Ritual may appear to be quite different today as compared to previous generations; however, the purpose of ritual is timeless—the integration of the mind, body, and spirit during times that defy explication. Simply put, ritual creates connections. Ritual is vital to facilitate the process of integrating losses into the fabric of our lives. Therefore, we must be appreciative of what constitutes ritual and acknowledge that the nature of ritual has changed and will continue to change as society changes.
Aging as a Spiritual Journey
When discussing the topic of aging, we often focus on the physical aspects of aging. However, the spiritual aspects of aging are equally as important. As we age physically, cognitively, and emotionally, we also evolve spiritually. Our view of life changes as we experience the highs and lows of life. Consequently, as we approach the end of the road, we often become much more appreciative of the lived experience. Our view of life is shaped by our evolving foundational beliefs—our guiding and sustaining precepts. From a solid foundation of understanding, we are better able to endure and to engage the other aspects of aging.