How We View Grieving

The Gods and Goddesses of old are shown as fully feeling grief and expressing it. Stories passed down show that, in particular, the Goddesses of our ancestors actively made their sorrows known. Inanna lamented for Tammuz, and the Sumerian civilization had an entire six-day holiday to remember his passing. The Egyptian Goddess Isis, upon finding out of the death of her consort Osiris, goes out and finds a way to restore him. The Goddess Demeter makes the earth barren when her daughter Persephone eats of the underworld fruit and is unable to permanently return to life.

The male Pagan God is often shown as dying and being reborn. These traditions include the time-honored English figure ‘John Barleycorn,’ who dies so that we might live; the Nordic god Baldur, who is mistakenly shot by an arrow; and the Egyptian god Osiris, who is brought back to life by his consort Isis.

The point here is that the Gods of our Pagan ancestors are shown as understanding the pain of death. We can take comfort that the Gods themselves understand our grief, having experienced it themselves. Thus, when creating a funeral ritual, it may be appropriate to mention specific Gods or Goddess, especially those whom the deceased felt especially close to.

You can also use these themes to offer comfort and give permission to grieve when appropriate.

Your Wishes

I feel strongly that one of the best gifts that we can leave our loved ones is a document letting them know how we would like to be remembered. Leaving behind an Advanced Funeral Wishes Document will help ensure that our wishes are respected and help guide those left behind. It is important that we provide both computerized and hard-copy versions of this document in a well-known place, so that it is accessible to our grieving loved ones. As Neo-Pagan clergy, you should urge every person in your community to write an Advanced Funeral Wishes Document—and follow your own advice by making one for yourself.

Many good resources exist that provide detailed information about what should be included in this document. Some of those resources are listed at the end of this section.

Click here for a form including important questions that you should consider when you begin drafting your own Advanced Funeral Wishes Document.


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