My last living grandmother died three weeks ago. She was the closest of my grandparents. In the Jewish custom, we sit with our deceased from the time they die until they’re buried the next day. Some cultures, I know, sit with their dead for days and even weeks. I wish it was true for us too, as it never seems long enough.
During that sit, members of the community offer their time. They come, one at a time, often during the night, and read prayers while they sit. I was blessed to have two sits with my grandmother, one right after she died, and one in the wee hours of the night.
Probably to do with my closeness to her and the tender way we used to hold hands or hug, I felt comfortable touching her, even while she lay on the gurney, covered in a shroud at the funeral home. My line of work has me tuned in to what the body is doing, even after death. It’s a known thing in Craniosacral Therapy and Osteopathy that the life force leaves the body slowly, and that hours and even days after a person dies, you can still feel the presence of their life force hovering around and within their body. So touching her with this kind of sensing was an honour and my way of easing her passage.
I sang to her, something I had learned to do through other customs, and tried as best I could to ask those who might be meeting her to receive her, and for her to see them. Needless to say, my hours with her were full of beauty and learning.
Probably the greatest learning came near the end of my first sit. It was nearly midnight, and I had just sat down to rest in the quiet. So much intention and grief made my eyes weak. Little sleep had happened over the days before, going in and out of her home, and the space between awake and dreaming were narrow.
I watched, with the kind of seeing that is looking at subtle realms. It’s one of the things I do. Some people listen for their intuition, others, have a knowing. I watch. So I was watching the world around my grandmother, looking for signs of her moving up and out, of any place in which she might have been hindered, for some way I might ease that hindrance. That’s when I saw it— a dark, diffuse cloud beneath her feet.
Usually when body-workers see darkness, it often points to some kind of incoherence, something that wants to be sorted out, or clarified. So that was my first thought, I wonder what needs to be sorted out? So I watched the gesture of this dark space a little longer. What did it want? As I looked, and felt, and asked, an answer came. One I can honestly say I had never thought of before.
She was done with her placenta. She was dead, and her umbilical connection to this earth, the one we all have, was no longer needed, and her placenta, her earth connection, was beginning to atrophy, become necrotic- die off. There was nothing to be done. It was all happening. I sat stunned, deeply flooded with awareness.
What an honour it felt to be shown such a thing, such a rare revelation at the separation point of spirit from matter, and through none other than this woman who had shown me so much love in my life.
I pass this on to you, guessing that in some way, you must know this too, as you are here, incarnated, intimately tied to this Great Mother we call Earth. May all our times be blessed here, and when it’s time for us to depart, may we all be able to say She fed us well. May these days see you and your family into good health, may your harvest boast a feast at your table that warms you for the season to come.