When we lose a loved one – and as we get older – death and grief become closer to us. We might find ourselves dealing with it daily as we search for ways to heal before crossing over to the other side. Linda Fitch, a practicing shaman, joined us today. She has been teaching healing medicine for over a decade, and she describes how we can use shamanic practices to help us process death and grief.

What is Shamanism?

What exactly is shamanism? This spiritual practice is more common than you might think. According to Linda, “every religion has roots that go back to shamanism. Shamanism is in every continent in the world.”

Dating back 20,000 years, shamanism is the methods someone uses to communicate with the next world. Although “shaman” is a Siberian word, different cultures have specific names for these individuals – such as a medicine man or a witch doctor. However, their job remains the same. Shamans communicate with spirits to serve their communities. They accompany souls to the next world or relate messages to the living from the spirit world.

While the techniques vary from culture to culture, Linda explains that shamans from almost every tradition use drums (and sometimes chanting) during their journey to the spirit world. The repetitive sounds change the shaman’s brain waves, allowing their spirit to leave the body.

How Can I Use Shamanic Practices to Deal with Death and Grief?

Multiple shamanic practices can help us deal with death and grief. These practices can assist with processing our emotions over the passing of a loved one. We can also use them to help someone close to us fighting a terminal illness on their own death journey.

Accept that Death and Grief Are a Part of Life

Western societies ignore grief, and they do not deal with it properly. In the shamanic tradition – especially in indigenous cultures – death and grief go hand-in-hand. They are accepted as part of life.

Grief is not limited to just one person. It is a powerful emotion that can pass from one individual to another. Linda describes that often happens in families: children can absorb the negativity associated with death and grief from their parents without realizing it.

By accepting that death and grief are a part of life, we can fully process these emotions before it is our turn to journey to the other side.

Build a Grief Altar

Linda also reminds us that grief can affect places, not just people. If something horrible happened in one particular place (like a house or a piece of land), the area holds on to those negative emotions. Since these locations can’t let go of grief on their own, we have to help them.

Arranging a ritual cleansing of the property can help clear any negative energy associated with death, pain, or tragedy. A relatively simple way to help a place let go of its negative emotions is by building a grief altar. It acts as a beacon for the negative energy, helping cleanse the area.

According to Linda, all you need to build a grief altar is to place a dark bowl with a cloth and some candles on a table somewhere in your home. You can use grief altars in homes or buildings, and you can even use them for yourself. Kneeling in front of the structure will pull forth any grief you might be feeling – even unprocessed emotions.

Visit a Shaman – or Become a Shaman Yourself

In her long career as a shaman, Linda explains that the most crucial role of these individuals lies in service to the community. Fate calls individuals to be shamans. Sometimes a near-death experience gives them the ability to communicate with the next world; in other cases, this knowledge is passed down between family members.

Having trained herself with Peruvian medicine men and women, Linda Fitch teaches classes on how to become a shaman. She offers a wide range of courses and workshops dedicated to training in shamanic practices and techniques so that you can serve your community or loved ones.

If you want to learn more about learning how shamanic practices can help you deal with loss and grief, Linda will be teaching a workshop this spring, “Mastering the Art of Holding On and Letting Go: Tools and Practices for Working with Transition, Death, and Dying.” You can find more information here.

Have you used any shamanic practices in dealing with loss and grief? What other methods have you used? Let’s have a conversation!