As many of you know, my grandfather passed last Fall causing a big shift in my daily routine. For almost three weeks of my life, I found myself in daily sits of prayer, ceremony and ritual. At first I thought it was a test of some sort. I thought it a test of my discipline. Could I stay with my grandfather for days on end, from 900 miles away, as he made the transition from the living state to the (what we call) death state? And if I could, would it mean I arrived at a new level of something? And if so, what level and what something?
Busy mind aside, I let these questions simmer in the background while I tended to the task at hand. I told myself it was simple. Connect to grandpa, be with grandpa, assist grandpa. And with that focus I found myself drawn to the altar at my fireplace every day. And without hesitation I sat in ceremony waiting for his indication of readiness to pass.
Now, let me just clarify: I didn’t really know what to do for him. I had been doing my own routine of mindfulness (what we call it these days) and meditation for my own sake but this was different. I was in essence being asked to be a death doula or assistant. And with this type of focus, the responsibility weighed heavy on me to do the right thing.
But somehow the right thing happened. For me to stay calm and present I had to treat the whole experience as a very long client session. I used my ability to focus and listen to the client. And as a sanity check, I connected with my grandfather a few times through the help of a medium since I couldn’t “see” the effects of my work. And when it was all said and done, grandpa made his transition and after performing another four days of ritual for the body, I made my way back into my daily routine without his transition my focus.
And the questions I had in the beginning seemed to be of no importance to me. I simply knew what I knew. I knew that his death changed my life. I knew we were all connected in a way that brought tears to my eyes. I knew that there was something powerful in the daily activity I had performed. And with that, I knew I had to get to Mexico. I had to connect with an old part of me that came to life as grandpa passed.
I’ll write about Mexico at another time. For now, I will leave you with the words of my grandfather. He said (after he passed), “You have much to remember about the power of ceremony.” And that is how I know that ceremony and daily ritual are not just for dying (anymore).