I am a bereaved mother, unlucky enough to have my beloved baby die in New York state. This is my response to the Slate.com article entitled "Bringing James Home":
My heart is broken open for every mother denied the opportunity to move through her grief with intuition as her compass. After enduring the death of a child the very last thing a family needs is for the sacred time of caring for their dead to be stripped from them as well.
Unlike in the Slate.com article, entitled "Bringing James Home," where the family was able to orchestrate and direct all arrangements for their beloved baby, New York State is one of only 10 states that deny families their autonomy and agency during this time, requiring by law that a licensed funeral director be contracted to oversee all after death "care" and transport of the body.
The word "care" doesn't jump to mind when I understand that the funeral industry's prescribed response to perinatal demise is a freezer unit in a strange place, often followed by the indignities of invasive and unnecessary embalming procedures.
My psyche is branded with the reality that an experience that could have been so sacred and so healing was stripped of sanctity and torn from my grasp. After removing my beloved sun Kali Ra from life support he was wheeled to the freezer and I was ushered upstairs to my recovery room with empty arms.
The fact that even a moment of my experience was "directed" by strangers and their systems disturbs my peace and fuels my passion to facilitate reclaimation of these sacred moments for others.
So many of us never got to hold our babies. My memory is violated by images of strange hands on the beloved vessel that became hallowed ground for so many dreams.
Where to turn when intuition directs us away from the "necessity" of that frozen morgue? What to do when intuition reveals opportunity for healing and reclaimation, but we can't find a stranger (funeral "director") willing to honor and "help us" manifest these beautiful visions?
July is Bereaved Parents Month.. And our society has forgotten how to hold space for a mother's grief. Instead we have become proficient at dictating the parameters of her experience. Despite what NYS funeral law mandates, the toolbox of the soul is full to bursting with nothing but love and sacred intuition to guide us through caring for our dead.
In the moments that surround transition there is far more to be learned than taught. Afterall, "death is the greatest teacher." Not the funeral industry and its confused attempts to shield us from reclaiming death as our birthrite.
This is not to say that many of the professional services provided by progressive funeral homes are not a welcome compliment and support to a family's vision and process. Contracting with compassionate, open-minded professionals can be a great comfort and ease on a bereft family's energetic resources. The toxic repression occurs when these services and "oversight" becomes dictate and sever us from the sacred reclaimation and healing possible from *family directed* after death care and ritual.
The only funeral "director" my family needed was the sacred union between mother's intuition and the soaring spirit of our beloved Kali Ra.
KALI RA IMAN
August 11, 2016 - August 15, 2016