HAVING A RELATIONSHIP WITH DEATH
a blog of resources
What’s the connection between sex and death from the perspective of a pleasure educator?
Well, I believe you can’t talk about sex without talking about death.
They’re entwined. Pleasure keeps us alive and truly living. You can’t have life and living, without having death, decay, loss. We are not infinite, we live in cycles of change and decay.
Sex and pleasure are also tools to be in our bodies. They remind us that we have bodies, that we exist in space and time. They remind us that we’re viscerally, physically, and very much mortally here. Pleasure is an acute experience.
In a world that is so deathphobic and grief illiterate/avoidant it makes sense we have distanced ourselves from feeling the slow or rapid deterioration of our bodies, others’ and this planet. From our own mortality, and in essence life itself. As the Bhutanese say, “to be a truly happy person, one must contemplate death five times daily”.
So in the spirit of reconciling this inextricable experiences, here’s a list of resources gathered and suggested by many of you, alongside me. This is an actively updated list! Please email me any resources, especially decolonising perspectives or rituals you think should feature: email@example.com.
I hope these resources are supportive as you explore and heal your edges of death, grief, and loss.
PRACTICES AND RITUALS:
All of these rituals are suggestions by me, but I welcome you to add.
Write your own obituary, host your own funeral party,
Acknowledging the natural cycles: seasons, lunar cycles, your own bodies.
Observing the arising and fading by caring for the living: gardens, plants, animals, other humans.
Creating closure and final moments in stages and chapters of life - thank you and goodbye.
‘Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul’, Stephen Jenkinson
‘The Death Class: A True Story About Life’, Erika Hayasaki
‘Sacred Dying: Creating Rituals for Embracing the End of Life’, Megory Anderson
‘What the Living Do: Poems’, Marie Howe
‘Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death’, Joshua Slocum and Lisa Carlson
‘Separate Reality’, Carlos Castaneda
‘Japanese Death Poems’, written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death’
‘Being and Nothingness’, Jean-Paul Sartre
‘I am a Strange Loop’, Douglas R. Hofstadter
‘The Buddha Is Still Teaching: Contemporary Buddhist Wisdom’, Jack Kornfield
‘No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison’, Behrouz Boochani, written by a journalist and asylum seeker while in an offshore detention centre. It explores grief, trauma, and systemic structural violence.
‘Grief is the thing with feathers: a novel’, Max Porter
BJ Miller’s TED talk, who runs the Zen Center in San Francisco
‘Griefwalker’, documentary about Stephen Jenkinson who wrote ‘Die Wise’
‘Ask A Mortician’, YouTube channel by Caitlin Doughty
‘The Casketeers’, a Netflix show about Maori funeral directors.
‘The Farewell’ the latest released film about a Chinese family and death
'A Happy Death', a talk from Alan Watts
‘The Order of the Good Death’ by Caitlin Doughty
WeCroak app - sends you quotes about death periodically during your day
‘12 quotes for strength in a time of loss and grief’, Bustle article
PLACES TO VISIT:
‘The School of Death’, Berlin
‘Death Museum’, Los Angeles and New Orleans
‘Siriraj Medical Museum’, Bangkok
This is an actively updated list! Please email me any resources, especially decolonising perspectives you think should feature: firstname.lastname@example.org.