During my travels, I encounter many different rituals, beliefs and customs surrounding death. Some of these are spiritually based, others cultural and a few even political.

In certain cultures people believe you shouldn’t touch the body of someone who is dying because you may interfere with the dying process. In other cultures, you are only allowed to touch the head so all the energy is directed upwards. My personal favorite is when every family member holds onto an arm or leg during the final moments. This is so when you meet up with the departed in the afterlife, he or she will recognize you because of the physical imprint that was imbedded during his or her final breath.

In a remote village in the northern region of Thailand, I was fortunate to be part of a ritual that honored the passing of villagers. I sat in a circle with the village leaders while the “Healer” offered a blessing to each person who had passed in the prior year. The Healer then placed a cotton bracelet made from a piece of the departed person’s clothing on everyone’s wrist. You were to wear the cotton bracelet until it fell off. The villagers believed that in this way the departed village member will remain a part of everyday life in the community for a while longer.

How sweet and important these customs are!

What rituals, beliefs or customs of dying have you experienced?

What do you want your end of life ritual to be?