Honoring our Love

A cross was installed for my late brother, Patrick in August 2021,
The pandemic has given rise to more funerals than normal, and we know ceremonies are crucial. It helps us process the departed as we go through our levels of grief.  
Unfortunately, due to COVID I have not physically attended any funerals, it is sad because the ritual of funerals and showing up is the best way to show your support and honor your loved one.
The key to honoring is to give meaning to the life lived. I blogged about family members who have passed, and I write to honor and give meaning to their life.   
The process is different for every family. In my family we have put together a slideshow with favorite music.  For my brother Patrick, we honored his last wish to have his ashes scattered on our traditional lands, we sang an honor song, had a feast, and told stories around a fire.  It is important to mourn. The funeral ritual assists in that mourning.
When I first moved to Ottawa a friend passed, the family held one day of visitation at the funeral home and the next day, she was buried.  I had never experienced that before, and it felt weird.  
In my family we hold a three-day wake, we prayed around the clock with the body present, and on the fourth day a burial, after the burial we have a feast. The three days of wake I am sure is influence by Catholicism.  In my Denesuline tradition the church has infiltrated so deep that most of us cannot separate the nonindigenous rituals with our traditional ritual for the deceased.
Public displays of grief near the body were discouraged in my family because our indigenous belief is that the spirit is still connected to this realm after death, and we believe that loud hysterical crying keeps the spirit tethered to this world longer than necessary hindering it from its journey into the spirit world. In the Denesuline tradition we hold the belief that our ancestors show us the way in the spirit world, and death is a natural process and part of life. 
Did you know historically the family of the deceased would give funeral gifts to people who attended the funeral.  By and large they were practical items, like rings, gloves and men were given scarves that were sewn into their jacket lining.  The culture was very much to honor the dead and theses gifts would serve as a living memorial and a remembrance of the loved after the funeral. I think this is a tender Idea.

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