Growing up in the Catholic tradition, I was always concerned about the practice of praying for the “faithful departed.” Didn’t those who were faithless, need our prayers even more? It struck me as a subtle scare tactic for the living, implying, you’d better get to church or we won’t pray for you when you’re dead. Perhaps it is a leftover from a time, not so long ago when suicide deaths and deaths of convicted murderers were assumed to be faithless and were not allowed to be buried in a Catholic cemetery with the traditional Catholic rites.
Whether you knew of this, or practices like it, directly or not, you may have internalized its effects. Ask yourself, am I forgivable? Do you bump into a place where you’re not so sure about that one thing? No matter how your loved one died, no matter what you have done in your life, we are all worthy of love now and at the hour of our death and after we pass. The judgment and fear-mongering aside, praying for souls who have departed and honoring ancestors is a practice inspired by love.
In Celtic tradition, Samhain marks the beginning of the pagan year and is considered a time when the veil of separation between life and death becomes thin. Accordingly, it is set aside as a time to honor ancestors and remember the dead. All Saints Day and All Souls Day, evolved out of this, as Christianity ‘spread’ throughout the West. In the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, the practice of the Essential Phowa is offered for the dying and deceased. According to the Pathwork Guide, in any moment, we are all moving away from or toward the ‘center’ and physical death is the ultimate move toward the center.
“…Grieving is more than learning to live without a dear one. In many cases, we are required to forgive them and ourselves as we bring the story of the time we spent together to meaningful completion… Regardless of what realm a soul is in, when we grieve as a completion, our love and wisdom reach through space and time as a help and a blessing. It is never too late to help those who have died.” ~From Pocketful of Miracles by Joan Borysenko.
The work of grieving is a challenging completion. We first need to believe the loss is real. We need to feel, express and heal the multitude of feelings associated with the ended relationship. Some relationships are more complicated than others. Some deaths are more complicated than others, such as elective or spontaneous abortions, accidents, or violent deaths. We need to let go and we need to find meaning as we move forward. The work of grieving has no prescribed time limit. We do it, when we do it. In fact, some people shelve it for a time when they can get the support they need to do this work. If you have shelved some of your grief work or if you are actively grieving a loss, right now, I’d like to invite you to attend one of my Mourning Out Loud workshops. You don’t have to do it alone.
Kate Holt, Core Energetics Practitioner has a private practice in Marlton, New Jersey. Kate is most passionate about the Core Energetics Evolutionary Process. She works with couples in the Exceptional Marriage Model and teaches and supervises Core Energetics Practitioners in training. Kate leads workshops ongoing process groups.