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Shared Teachings: Rite of passage


“Why have you stayed away?” Having not yet been introduced to mortality, my 22-year-old self sobbed by his bedside. Previously shielded, I now knew the face of death. I was young, and afraid of the unknown, death, and subsequently, my grandfather.

Decades later, when the call was received, I implored my mother to wait, while I drove six hours to be present with her. After four years of criss-crossing the bridge of dementia, she was now ready to remain on the other side.

A dear friend had taught me the value of attending to death, recognizing the shared energetic transition. Reaching for my mother’s tiny hand underscored his wisdom. Her pulsing grip transmitted her remaining life force energy into my hand. For hours we clung, until the pulsing ceased, as did she.

My father’s passing illustrated the expansive revelation of the spirit, as I witnessed him transform into Love itself.

Death reveals the potential of the unfettered spirit. It elicits a higher state of connection, made possible through the cessation of the physical form.

Following my grandfather’s passing, I felt cloaked in his presence for days. My mother is ever present, living through me, increasingly evident with every passing year. And my father dances with me in dreamtime.

There are differing opinions as to how long the spirit lingers after death. Personal experiences vary, but what seems to be true, is that the spirit’s Earth bound connections are not severed at the moment of passing. Disengagement is not immediate or permanent. Many cultures honor the passage of spirit by remaining with the body, sitting in the presence of and caring for the form as the spirit is released.

Recently, a dear friend passed, allowing me the privileged of witnessing the sacred act of a modern-day home burial. Being present, and collaborating with Nature in placement and adornment of the unconfined body, as it was lowered into the Earth, was a deep act of love.

Modern medical advancements, keep this transition between form and spirit at arms length. Death is not as prevalent or immediate as it once was. We have been distanced from one of the most beautiful acts of love, holding space for the spirit as it lingers and detaches.

I liken it to the poignant moment a bird’s feather releases, set free from the form that held it. The passing of life, separation of body and spirit is elegantly nuanced, deserving of our attention and attending.

It is the most profound rite of passage.

Patricia Walsh-Collins is a 40-year resident of Bucks County, with a 25-year career as a professional educator. She is creator and owner of Art of Spirit and Art of Spirit’s Earth School.