The Soul will leave the body. It needs help to cross the Great River. The River is wide and gentle and shrouded in mist. Across the River is the Village of the Ancestors. Even though it’s a distance away, we can see the ancestors gathering on the Other Shore. We the Village of the Living, are on this bank of the River. The funeral happens on both sides. It is our job in the Village of the Living to construct an energetic “canoe” for our Loved One out of our grief. The paddles are made from our tears. It is our grief and our tears that propel the “canoe”, carrying our Loved One, to the middle of the River. Having received word of the Soul’s impending arrival, the Village of the Ancestors, are joyfully preparing. It is that Joy that pulls the Soul the rest of the way across.
*this story was told to me by Sarah Kerr, she believed it to have come from the Ojibwe people of the nortern plains of the Americas. I wrote this version down for my mother’s funeral. She passed on her 93rd birthday, March 24, 2019.