The muffled sounds of suppressed weeping wash over me as I enter the funeral hall. Moon white Lilly Flower arrangements drape over the dark wooden pews, their scent of innocence and purity fill me with an unexpected sense of peace. I look to the awaiting coffin at the end of the hall, I cannot see a picture on top of the coffin so I anxiously look around trying to identify the people in the room. Why am I here? Whose funeral is this?
A woman wails loudly in her grief, her pain vibrates through my body, I quickly lower my eyes no longer wanting to risk making eye contact with anyone in the grieving procession. I begin to walk slowly past what feels like endless rows of people making my way towards the coffin at the other end of the room. As I reach the end of the aisle I briefly look over at a young couple sitting in the front row huddled closely together seeking refuge within each other’s arms, their faces are down, foreheads touching, their hands anxiously clinging to each other in their laps.
I draw my eyes away from their intimate moment and take two steps up to the open casket before me. The mahogany coffin is covered in an array of flowers and candles and I smile despite myself when I notice the coffin is lined in a deep red velvet, interesting choice for funeral colours. I lean over the coffin in the hope of finally laying my eyes upon the person I am here to say goodbye to. I’m shocked to find the coffin is empty. My eyes search the insides of the coffin frantically trying to make sense of my experience. It is then that I notice that no the casket is not quite empty. A delicately embellished antique hand held mirror lays within the folds of velvet. Unconsciously I pick it up, bringing the mirror up to my face, my reflection glares straight back at me. In my confusion my instinctual senses take over and it is now that I notice the music playing in the background. It’s my wedding song. The song I have always told my loved ones I want played at my own funeral. A knowingness begins to niggle within me. I slowly turn around, as I stand at the coffin I look out onto the people who fill the hall. From where I stand I notice that the young couple I saw earlier is my son, my much older son, the woman who now has her head gently nuzzled on his chest, I have never met, yet she weeps for me. I then look out and see my best friends, my parents, how could my parents be here? I see my aunties and uncles, even my grandparents are in the room whom I know have long since passed. I see old school teachers, work colleagues and neighbours. Every person I have ever known sits in the long wooden hall before me. I’m overwhelmed with joy at seeing all of their faces and at the same time pain and sadness at witnessing their grief. I scan the front row and now I see my daughter, my daughter and her whole family, I see my grandchildren with her, nuzzled under their fathers arms their young eyes heavy and red from crying. I have never met these children, Yet my heart compels my body forward with the desire to be with them. I physically try to step forward to comfort them but my legs cannot move.
No one seems to have noticed me standing in front of them. They are deeply lost in their own memories of me, and the consuming grief of their hearts to notice.
The music stops and the funeral director begins in her loud musical voice. “ Today we are here to celebrate the life of an incredible woman. A woman who stood for …… .”
I wake with a start. The residue of the dream is still heavy around me.
A woman who stood for what?
What will be said about me when I die? And perhaps more importantly What do I want to be said about me when I die?
Today, for many of us we are blessed to live in a time where we have the ability and opportunity to search out and live what we feel is our life’s purpose. We usually begin this quest for purpose by looking externality to find what we think that purpose may be. We look for the right label, degree or industry, in the hope that when we find something that feels right everything else in our lives will fall into place. Perhaps we have even claimed the title of healer, writer, actor or entrepreneur, and yet sometimes we still feel that something is missing. These titles may be what we do but they are not who we are. Plant spirits have taught me that we ourselves are our purpose, and that knowing yourself and being who it is that you truly are, is your only task.
This may sound simple but I’m sure most people who have begun this quest will agree the practice of being who we are, is far from simple.
Who we are is often buried behind suppressed trauma and pain not only our own but the pain past down by genetics, ancestral lines and cultural stories. Being who we are is sabotaged or masked by cultural expectations, people pleasing, misperceptions or even the expectations of following other peoples dreams. When women and men come to me in the search of their purpose I tell every single one of them that they are a healer. Some people look at me confused this is when I tell them
“ I believe you are a healer because we are all healers, and I believe this because every single plant spirit I work with has confirmed with me this truth.”
We are not healers because we practice reiki or massage. We are not healers because we studied psychology or physiotherapy or even because we are herbalists or doctors. We are healers because when we live according to our true nature and when we live by our personal truth we heal others simply by being who we are. We are all here to help heal each other. Why else would we be here together?
A big part of the journey to knowing yourself and being who you truly are is knowing what it is that you stand for.
So today I ask you, What will be said about you at your funeral procession? How did you heal others simply by being who you are?
At your death what do you imagine people will say that you stood for?
What do you think will have made you matter to them?
What do you want to hear them saying that you stood for? (What you think they will say and what you want them to say could currently be very different things)
What are you doing in your life to make the reality of this possible?
Where are you not behaving in a way that is aligned with how you want to be remembered?