What about a Requiem?

A Requiem is a hymn, composition or service for the dead. In Pagan or Wiccan Circles, this might be called a Passing Over.

Sometimes a Priestess is called upon to visit the dying. 

On such a visit, perhaps "less is more." As one priest once put it, "Don't just do something, stand there."

Remember that hearing is the last sense to depart. Although the person may not be moving, they might still be listening.

Sometimes the dying want comfort, a blessing, a prayer, a ceremony. Sometimes they want someone to talk with. Sometimes it's the family and friends that want comfort, a vigil, or a send off. Sometimes, there is more than one faith tradition represented.

When it becomes more about you than about them, you have stepped outside of the role of service. A call to a deathbed is a time to listen.


And then there is the memorial service. Here, again, there may be more than one faith represented.

Gather together the traditions of those who will be present. If you are expected to tell stories about the departed, do research to make sure that your stories are accurate.

Although Pagan clergy may be able to acquire study among the traditional areas covered in seminary, there is still the Clinical Pastoral Education, also known as Chaplaincy. This involves several months duty under supervision in a hospital emergency room.

 You might do well to tag along behind a more experienced priestess as she deals with the dying and the dead. This way when you are called upon for such service, it will not be your first time. Here is a sample ritual of what you might say and do.

Some good thoughts are:

Grieve not for those who have gone from our world.
Now is the time to celebrate their passing
For only in death can life begin anew.
May the memories of _____________
Bring you joy and comfort.
May you find the strength and will
To let her/him go in peace.

And also

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there - I do not sleep.
I am the thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints in snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
As you awake with morning's hush
I am the swift-up-flinging rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there - I did not die.

--Mary Elizabeth Frye

Some resources are www.Funerals.org and Aging with Dignity and Florida Hospices and the Final Exit Network, and Death and Grief: A Guide for Clergy by Alan Wolfelt.

Although mourning is part of the process, I would rather celebrate the life of the departed. And remember, "less is more." A good funeral gets the dead where they need to go and the living to where they need to be.

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