WHAT IS “DEATH WORK”?
“Death work,” as its name suggests, pertains to any activity related to death or dying that possesses a strong religious and/or spiritual aspect. Many death-oriented activities do not always carry this connotation, such as “vulture culture,” hospice work, death midwifery, being a funeral director, etc. However, they can and do fall under the category of “death work” if they are done for the religious and/or spiritual benefit of the practitioner or the persons receiving the service(s).
Some death workers venerate their ancestors at shrines in their homes, or maybe they go to their families’ cemeteries and tidy the graves. Some might honor the fallen warriors of their country by regularly visiting war memorials and leaving flowers. Some might be spirit-workers and commune with the deceased that way, while others might care for the remains of animals. Some death workers might work in hospice or provide home funeral services. Some are advocates, hoping to change the way their cultures approach death and dying. Some might believe in One True God; others might believe in many.
The beauty of being a death worker is that you decide how you engage with death. There are no rules as to what you can or cannot believe, who you can or cannot worship, what magic you can or cannot do – or whether you can or can’t do magic in the first place. The only thing is: respect death, and by doing so, respect life. Death is what unites us, and life is all we have. They are our greatest teachers and our greatest treasures.
WHO CAN BECOME A DEATH WORKER?
Anyone can, provided that they…
- Have a healthy, respectful relationship with death.
- Cherish and celebrate life, without wishing to prolong it unnecessarily.
AS A DEATH WORKER, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON SUICIDE / SUICIDAL IDEATION?
The death work community emphasizes a healthy respect for death. It encourages life, living, and compassion. It forbids actions and words that could cause the death of another individual, even indirectly. If you feel the urge to take your own life, I beg you to contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (USA only) or the International Association for Suicide Prevention (worldwide).