O, Death: Mysteries of the Long Sleep

26 thoughts on “O, Death: Mysteries of the Long Sleep”

  1. I think the first death I remember was the husband of my stepfather’s sister. The body was in their living room, but I never went that far. At least I had a job to do, play with the youngest ‘baby girl.’ Many times I heard his extended family talk about going to sit with bodies of relatives & friends even later when most were in funeral homes not their own homes. Never happened in my maternal family, but it gave me a peaceful feeling that people had such strong feelings for the person that they would do this. Always felt blessed to be their when my mother died in the hospital and the last hospital visitor to be with my stepfather, closest aunt & mother-in-law. It did give me sorrow, but peace later.

  2. When my mother was dying of cancer, she while sitting in the kitchen, would reach out as if someone was there. I knew the veil was thinning for her. I wish I had stayed with her when the time came for her to cross over. That I regret.

  3. This is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read and something I desperately needed to see today. Thank you for everything.

  4. It was so beautifully written. I think what is lacking today is caring for our loved ones once they pass. Death has become so sterile so cold. I think we should go back to getting the body ready for burial and having a wake.

  5. I am from Harlan, Kentucky and have heard the death traditions of never leaving the body alone for even a minute. My mom would reminisce of “The men sat up all night while my Daddy lay corpse”. Quarters were placed on the eyelids to assure that they stayed shut. Mirrors were always covered when someone passed. I have been an ICU and ER nurse for 29 years and have seen many peaceful deaths and many disturbing deaths. The feeling of the room is very specific. One of the expressions that has stuck with me and I sense strongly in patients and non-patients is I can always see when “Death is on him”, or her. Sometimes they won’t feel sick at the time. My maternal grandmother and maternal aunt had death premonitions and I (unfortunately) do as well. My paternal grandmother could look at a woman and tell if she was pregnant. She would say, “She is put”. This grandmother always spoke in tongues when she was off by herself. I love the rich traditions of our mountains and the blood that flows through our veins. Thank you for your writings.

  6. Absolutely excellent writing and I’m so grateful I found your blog!! I’m a Granny who has lived in the southwest all my life and so much of this essay brings back memorial memories for me. Many thanks!

  7. Brings back memories of my granny’s death, like diamonds tucked away for a rainy day. Stella Jane Pierson…laid out in that big box in the front room, lookin’ all pale and serene in her lavender dress. My grandpa in his rocking chair, keenin’ by her side. My height and years were sadly lacking. I could not see what they were all peering at until a lady lifted me up so I could see what death looked like in Poor Valley, Virginia. A little girl’s first glimpse of the void.

  8. “To where, I really can’t say for sure. I haven’t seen that place yet. But wherever that nirvana is, they are, and I will be also. But no, not today. I still have things to do. And so do you”………. faith

  9. It is our tradition to leave out honey for sweet energy and water for the wandering thirst for seven days as the spirit travels between the realms. So many memories.

  10. I too have been present when my parents “set up with the dead”. I was too small to understand what was going on but old enough to know it was serious business. Somber, sad and yes dark business. I contribute my avoidance of anything to do with the dead until my adult years to the early experiences with the rituals. I had an aunt who would attend every funeral at the local funeral home, whether she knew them or not , out of some morbid curiosity I presume. We talked about her as if she were a witch, amongst other reasons, for attending funerals of people she hadn’t ever known. She would just sit some where in the crowd as if she were a long lost cousin going through the ritual with the family, not saying a word, just being present in a very ghostly detached way. It gave us younger ones in the family something to talk about. Yep, she was a legend for sure, strange that one.

  11. Thank you for your brilliance. It would be grand to meet you, to share some of my work with you. You touch the soul, you keep the old hill spirit alive and I appreciate it. I write about things military, but I too have written about demons, about death, about redemption or the search therefor. Maybe one day I will be fortunate enough to meet you. As it is I am pleased my sister first shared your work with me. Write on…

  12. I always enjoy reading these precious stories . I am immediately transported back into a childhood of memories that I haven’t thought about in years. Thanks! Theresa

  13. funny about how we here in Appalachia take photos of the dead… my husband who is just over 50 took about 12 of his father who had passed unexpectedly. We weeped together when we packed up the camera. It was as if we hoped that we had captured the last of his life on film to hold on to later.

  14. We do want to know the unknowable, don’t we? I would caution about our tendency to hold fast to the belief that we have time to live beyond today. In truth, to be fully alive is to know that today is all there is; should tomorrow become another today, then we may live in it also. But never presume to anticipate a time to come; you may lose your today.
    As always, you have given me cause me to ponder. Thank you for that.

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