A week with Ruth and family--the passing of my mother

A week in the Life of Ruth and her family


In the days before Ruth died in her sleep & especially the few days afterwards, my brother Sandy and I began to collaborate on creating a sacred ceremony to mark the passing of our mother, Ruth. We discussed the form and structure and then allowed ourselves to receive and then choose the words and content.

The ceremony took place at The Star of David Funeral Home, in North Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

When we arrived at the funeral chapel, we were invited to view her body. She was in a simple, plain pine casket that was open to show her from the neck up. Though her spirit was clearly not associated with her body anymore, I covered the casket with a beautiful multi-colored prayer shawl—treating it with love and respect.

It warmed up her appearance and allowed us to relate to her and the occasion with tenderness and with beauty. After anyone, who wanted to, came up to the casket, the services began.

I took off my shoes and went up to the casket, where my mother’s body was laid to rest and with my back to everyone, picked up the “Yiskah” candle and waved it around her body, in big sweeping circular movements. --Silently invoking The Divine and Only One, “The Holy”.

I returned to the podium and welcomed everyone. I began with a reading by Tagore, which I had found a few days before. (The actual sequence of readings may have been a little different.)

Let it not be death but completeness

Let Love melt into memory and pain into songs

Let the flight through the sky end in the folding of the wings over the nest

Let the last touch of your hands be gentle, like the flower of the night.

Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a moment,

And say your last words in Silence.

I bow down to you and hold my lamp to light you on your way.


At some point, I also read this poem, by Keats:

Darkling, I listen

For many a time

I have been half in Love with easeful death

Called soft names in many a mused rhyme

To take into the air

My quiet breath

Now, more than ever, it seems rich to die

To cease upon the midnight, with no pain

While Thou Art pouring this souls abroad, in such ecstasy.


Then looking down first and the up to everyone, I spoke of the Navaho tradition that sings at every healing. So I sang these words, open throated:


“Boruch, Atah, Adonoi, Eloheynu Melech Ho’olom, Borai Ruth Shapiro”

“Boruch, Atah, Adonoi, Eloheynu Melech Ho’olom, Borai Ruth Shapiro”

“Boruch, Atah, Adonoi, Eloheynu Melech Ho’olom, Borai Ruth Shapiro”


I then told the story of the prayer shawl. I had purchased it 1 day before my mother died to use in the ceremony, somehow. Then 5 or 6 hours after she passed away, I took it and brought it to our Ashram. I offered it in prayer and meditation to the various holy sites that are part of the Ashram. This was part of the continuing preparation for and participation in her death process. The days before, I put her picture on my meditation and prayer altar.

When I placed her photo on the altar, adjacent to my "Murti", my hands rose up and energetically guided her picture and Bhagavan together. (What I didn’t say then, but which I add now, is the feeling of Light that descended into my head, as I did this. And all the tears come forth. These were better tears than the ones that came every day for the three weeks prior to her passing…tears of grief and loss and worry.)

And then I told the story of the first few hours after Ruth died. Joni called me, as arranged, immediately after, the nurse woke her to tell Joni the news. I went to my altar and spoke to my mother & read to her of many things. First, I recited this passage, written by Adi Da Samraj:


Be Drawn and Attracted Upwards

There is a strong Attractive Force felt upwards. Let yourself feel That Force.

There is also an Upward-Moving Sound and be Moved by That.

There is also a profound Bliss.

Let yourself be Attracted Upward by that Feeling of Bliss.

Eventually, you will see the Attractive Light Above, The Brilliant White Light.

Hold to the Center, hold to the Upward Attraction.

Let go of everything.

Relinquish everything.

Allow yourself to be Attracted and Drawn—straight, like an arrow—into That White “Brightness”, that Bliss, That Vibratory Force, (or Sound).

Allow all sense of separateness and otherness to be Dissolved Above, in the Unconditional Force of Being Itself, the Divine Self-Domain.


I repeated these words often during those two hours after I heard the news. I also spoke the names of her husband, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, speaking of how we all loved her, that we all felt loved by her and that we would all be okay.


And I told her something of what to expect during this next period of time and having been through a “near-death” experience, I knew these things to be true.


And all the while, I remembered the time, about a year and a half ago. I was bringing her into the house, back from the hospital and biopsy.  She passed out, seemed to be dying in my arms, only to revived by CPR, mouth to mouth. And I remembered how I spent much of those next few days, while dad was giving her energy, trying his best to get his beloved up and strong again. While he took that course, I spent time, by her side, lying down next to her and telling and feeling to her that, “There is nothing to be afraid of.” At one point, mom allowed herself to feel all the way and she spoke of seeing God”.  From then on, even while watching her suffer, and suffering with her, I was not worried about her passing.

People have come up to me and said, “I’m so sorry.” I spoke, “I’m sorry to, but I am so glad she has passed on and ended the suffering.

These past few years were years when my sister Joni and Sandy and I spoke many times together, trying to do whatever we could think of from far away, to help. Whenever we spoke, in the middle of our three way calls, was the picture of Ruth and Red, mom and dad. Our loving collaboration these past few years was wonderful, even with all the sadness and the feeling of being unable to make things “Right”.

I finished my part of the ceremony with two readings.


Excerpt from “The Heart of Understanding”, by Adi Da Samraj:

The Heart is Real understanding. The Heart is Real Consciousness and Real Life. The Heart is What Merely and Only Is, but Which Is also Appearing in and Behind the conditions of mortal life and its death. Therefore, it is said of old, The One That Is, Is neither born, nor come to death, not Alive merely as the limitations of form (itself), not Itself (or Entirely) Rendered in what appears, and yet, It Is the Living One, than Which there is no lesser other (and no Great or Greater Other), Appearing As all of this Play of changes, but Eternally One, Unchanging, and Free.

There Is Only Knowledge and Enjoyment of the Heart, moment to moment, through the instant of all conditions of appearance and disappearance. Of This I Am Perfectly Certain. I Am That.


And finally from Dylan Thomas:

Our mouths close here,

And with a shout of joy,

Immediately open there….







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