A Tribute & Share ~ My Grandmother’s Passing
The role of a shamanic practitioner in death is to guide and support the soul of the dying as they are welcomed into the afterlife.
Shamanically, death is seen as a transition where the soul lets go of the bounds of the body and fully enters into the spiritual world known as the afterlife. The transition into the afterlife that occurs in death is acknowledged as being equally as important as the one in birth. However, the transition into birth is the opposite, where the soul leaves the spiritual and enters the physical.
Think about the birthing process. Women have been birthing since the beginning of humanity. People have also been dying since the beginning of humanity. In the least, the baby has its mom to support. More often, the baby also has a group of loved ones – doctors, midwives, doulas, friends and family to share encouraging words and ensure the process is as smooth as possible. This is seen as normal and necessary in our world today. But who do dying people have? This is one of the roles of the shaman. Birth and death are transitions on opposite sides of the same coin, and require the same amount of space, tenderness, reverence and love.
Dying is a process in which the shaman acts as a midwife for the soul who journeys through the portal of death into the afterlife.
The role of the shaman up to, through and after death is to create the necessary space, energetic healing and support for the soul to transition as peacefully as possible, so they’re able to continue processing what they need to learn, evolve and ascend into and throughout the afterlife with the utmost ease and grace.
There are many helping, compassionate beings that the shaman works with to provide additional support for the dying as well as the living.
Often the souls of well ancestors present themselves to meet, greet and guide the dying, as well as a multitude of psychopomp beings whose only objective is to help guide the soul through this portal. Psychopomp is a Greek word that translates as guide of the soul. The shaman also acts as a psychopomp. Through the dying and death process, the role of the shaman includes providing comfort for the living, and if necessary, planning arrangements and/or tending to any ‘unfinished business’. It’s common for a soul to experience unfinished business if they cling to attachments or dynamics that require resolution in order for peace to propagate during and after death. Ultimately, shamanic practitioners help create a safe, healing space for the letting go of the dying, grieving of the living, and beyond. This is deep, sacred work.
I had the extreme honor and privilege to support my grandmother last week during her departure from this world.
She was and is a very important person in my life. She was like a mother to me, and some of my favorite memories, especially in childhood, were always with her.
Mom-mom, as I called her, was spunky, spontaneous, witty, independent, stubborn, so very caring, loving and hilarious. She touched the heart of pretty much everyone who came across her, and certainly everyone who knew her. I’ve truly never met someone quite like her. From being able to talk her way out of speeding tickets, to prompting her grandchildren for approval to follow signaling fire trucks to find the fire, there was never a dull moment. We laughed and laughed and laughed and had the most fun. I always felt so cared for, loved and safe in her presence, outside of when she still insisted to drive me at 90 years old.
She was full of life until she wasn’t. She lived until her body told her she couldn’t. Her spirit was strong to and through the end of her earthly life, with only her body that failed her, as it will for every one of us one day.
I was blessed to be at her bedside for the last 12 hours of her life. She waited for me. When I arrived at the hospital in MD and walked into her room, her eyes lit up. Her head was turned to the right, eyes half open, half closed with some movement from time to time. I knelt down to her level so she could see me and started speaking with her. I knew she could hear me because every time I finished speaking, she would take a big breath and sigh. Her mouth would open, and she would move her tongue, like she was trying to talk but couldn’t or didn’t have the strength. I thanked her for waiting for me, told her I loved her very much, and invited her to let go when she was ready, among many other things. She was cool to the touch.
Over time and many hours, she settled into stillness and comfort. Once we were alone for the night, I asked her if she was okay with me setting sacred space and inviting helping energies to support her transition. I intuitively knew that she gladly accepted, so I shared a prayer as I usually do in any shamanic or energetic work and helped to set the container. She softened into the container.
Around 9p, a nurse came in and tried to take her vitals. She couldn’t get a reading, but you could see that she was still breathing. I intuitively knew it would happen in a matter of hours.
As the container solidified and the helping energies surrounded us, we spoke about her unfinished business. As we talked through things, this gave her a sense of peace that allowed her to begin to let go naturally and gradually.
I helped to clear heaviness within her body and invited divine love and light to flow through her and the space that held us. I sang her medicine songs which called in the support of her helpers and Source/God energy. She loved it and didn’t want me to stop. When I finished, she had a soft smile on her face. Prior to this, she hadn’t moved for hours. I’ll never forget her smile that night. She looked very comfortable and at peace. I felt comfortable and at peace myself.
I could see and feel her spirit being lifted higher and higher, surrounded by love and light. There was a gateway in the afterlife that she was approaching. There was a significant amount of energy moving around and through her body. The cord that connected her to her body softened and stretched. Eventually, I was told she would become so ‘top heavy’ that the cord would dissolve naturally.
I sat in a chair close to her, covered by a blanket that my great-grandmother made, her mother. I reminded her on occasion that I was still present, and that I loved her dearly. Sometimes I would repeat “May you be held. May you be cared for. May you be loved. May you be at peace.” I watched her breathing become subtler and subtler for hours upon hours. From low belly breaths to upper belly breaths, to chest breaths, to collar bone breaths, to nothing. At some point in the night, I came to the realization that she witnessed my birth, and I had the honor and privilege to witness and support her passing. On occasion I would rest my warm hand on hers or comb her hair. She was cold to the touch now.
In the early morning hours, I noticed she was no longer faintly breathing. The nurse came in just a moment later and couldn’t hear activity in her heart or lungs. The doctor confirmed her passing shortly after. I was told she looked so peaceful. She really did.
Around 254a on Wednesday, 2/14/24, Valentine’s Day, Marylin Berman, my Mom-Mom, passed away. I will remember this day for the rest of my life.
I can see that she is ascending into her highest, lightest and freest version of self. She is looking down with love, awe and pride. I can feel her everywhere – She lives in all things now. She is infinite, loving space.
I will cherish our memories for the rest of my life. She lives on now within my heart and acts as a guardian spirit of mine. I will never forget her voice or her presence or her positive impact on my life. I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity to be there during her transition and more importantly to have been blessed enough to have her as my grandmother. She will be missed dearly.
I love you Mom-Mom. Thank you. Until we officially meet again,
Your Little Shanny<3
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