I recently re-tweeted @sameetkumar: “When our loved ones die, they become our ancestors, those who came & went before us because we have outlived them. They are to be honored.”
This is an interesting idea, one that may not have occurred to those who don’t follow a particular tradition or religion in their daily lives. Dr. Kumar is one of my teachers in the Contemplative End of Life Care course @ITM and I have been thinking a lot about the families I will be working with; especially those who don’t have customs and practices that will help them with grief and mourning.
Because we are alive due to the sacrifices made by many generations, it seems a fitting tribute to honour those that lived and loved and died before us. These include relatives of blood and also of spirit; not directly related to us but who have in some way participated in our future.
There is a belief by many that the living can help the spirits of the recently deceased to become helpful ancestors, hopefully allowing those ancestors to repair the wrongs they may have done on earth. Another belief is that ancestors who have gone before us may have a spiritual influence on our own current life paths.
I offer the following suggestions and invite you to use them in your own way to suit your ancestors or develop your own traditions.
•» Understand and believe it is possible to be spiritually connected (even though not physically connected any longer) to those who have gone before you.
•» Fulfill your life’s purpose on earth, being as authentic and true to yourself as you can be.
•» Complete positive & charitable actions in the name of your ancestors. Choose something meaningful to you that will honour your ancestors’ memories.
•» Be open to spiritual communication from your ancestors. This contact may take the form of dreams, encounters (your loved one’s favourite song plays, etc.), or synchronicity (events that seem to be meaningfully connected.)
•» Designate a physical space to honour your ancestors like a small table or shelf dedicated to their memory.
•» Make offerings to the ancestors such as having a dedicated ancestors’ plate and sharing food & drink during family gatherings.
Be sure to include pictures and stories as a way to include ancestors in family gatherings, the younger generations will then be connected with their past.
The connections we have with our ancestors don’t need to stop when their physical bodies die. Consider this tradition as a way to honour what we have learned from them and for their sacrifices. The purpose is to remind ourselves that we do not forget those who came & went before us, and that they live on within us. The relationships we have with those we love don’t have to end at the time of their death. Consider passing this message along to future generations.
For more detailed information on the above points visit: ancestralmedicine.org
Also try: paganwrites.com, themystica.com, or search: honouring ancestors