The Death Letter Project
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Victoria Spence | Holistic Funeral Director / Counsellor / Celebrant

Dear Tina

What is death?

Death is an impossible question that takes us beyond what we can know. To the ends and beginnings of things. A mystery, to be kept for the experience of it, alone. So whilst I can't speak of my death, I can speak about what I have experienced of the deaths of others that have graced and shaped my life.

I believe that the idea and fact of death, so definite and sure, yet unknowable and incomprehensible, may well be the organizing principle of life.

Understood as a rite of passage, death marks how we mature as individuals and as a society. It is a rite of separation, transition (liminality) and reincorporation, involving so many more bodies than the one whose final breath has been taken.

The space that is created in life, once death has come, is profound. Poignant, deeply human, sometimes achingly beautiful and so full of love and loss that it forges us anew. Individuals, cultures and civilizations owe their progress to death. It unleashes our life force and breaks our hearts, open.

Death produces the need for cohesion. The threads of a life usher themselves towards narrative completion, to story telling, meaning making and understanding for those whose lives continue.  As a speaker for the dead, it is the gaps and spaces in these stories that draw me in. What is and isn’t told, shared and articulated. Leaning in to these openings, new possibilities, indeed, new worlds emerge, as we give form and language to what it is to have lived, now that death has come. In this way, death harvests life. 

The willingness to meet mortality is to put out a hand to that which takes so much and to receive what it is that death may give us. 

What is death? It is a way of knowing we are here and that this too shall pass.

Editor's note: Victoria Spence is the founder of Life Rites Holistic Funeral Services - Sydney Australia's most experienced provider of end of life and after death care services, specialising in Holistic Funeral Direction, Guidance, Counselling and Ceremonial Services.

The Death Letter Project welcomes your comments and feedback. Please feel free to leave a comment on our Facebook page or alternatively submit a message below.

  • So articulate and graciously put, just like you Victoria - Robyn Holland (Facebook)
  • It's a lovely, embracing, warm and nurturing understanding of death, thank you Victoria - Rosada Hayes (Facebook)
  • Beautifully put - Pam Cossey (Facebook)