How to conduct a memorial service for a loved one

In Western society, there is an organised funeral immediately or relatively quickly after the death of a loved one. This is often too soon for most people to work through their grief, especially if the death was sudden. The funeral serves a purpose, of course, but the immediacy of its occurrence, the formalised ritual, any religious influence and the relatively impersonal nature of the ceremony may not feel right for truly expressing one’s grief.

Holding a separate, deeply personal memorial service (or passing-over ceremony) for someone you love makes it far more applicable to you and your relationship with the person. Such a ceremony provides a space where the grief process can be entered into more fully without your guard up or, as is often the case in the UK, with a stiff upper lip and keeping the emotions under check, especially in the case of men. Some people may feel they never grieved properly for a loved one. Maybe they didn’t want to express their emotions at the time, did not have a chance to grieve fully for one reason or another or felt they had to be strong for the rest of the family.

The circumstances surrounding the passing of a loved one also have a significant impact on how our emotions manifest. The shock of a sudden or unexpected death, a suicide, homicide or tragic accident can mean the grief process is almost bypassed and the emotions not given a chance to be accessed, let alone expressed. Of course, even the passing of someone naturally from old age can still be difficult and surrounded by grief.

Then there are global issues, such as the coronavirus pandemic that began in 2020. Covid-19 affected everyone and has taken (and continues to take) many lives, in some instances very quickly, often with the patient allowed limited contact with family and friends towards the end of their life. Additionally, and understandably, to minimise transmission of the virus, the number of funeral attendees was restricted in the UK (as in most countries), depriving people of being able to pay their respects in person. Even if people could attend, there were probably still specific Covid guidelines to follow and an underlying concern about being around others in a group situation, however slim the chance of infection, thus further distracting the attendees from being fully present in the ceremony.

Other large-scale losses such as disease, war, famine, genocide, ethnic and religious cleansing, natural disasters, etc., all lead to the loss of lives in devastatingly traumatic ways. All loss of life is hard to take. But when it seems senseless or of no fault of the deceased – based on circumstance, colour of skin, sexual orientation, faith or simply bad luck – there is inherent disbelief, a lack of comprehension and understandable anger at what has happened. All of which overshadow and undermine the grief process of those in mourning.

Conducting a memorial service can offer great solace for all and any circumstances around the loss of a loved one. There is no time frame for holding such a memorial. It can be relatively soon after the formal funeral or years, even decades, after your loved one has passed. The service can be either individual or with a group, but I suggest trying the individual ceremony first to familiarise yourself with the process and give yourself the opportunity to tap into your own grief, allowing the release and the expressing of any emotion. In both cases, the ceremony is conducted predominately for the people present, not the deceased. By that, I mean the ceremony is for those present to go fully and openly into the depth of their grief. It is not meant to be a celebration of the deceased’s life. This can be done at another time in another ceremony. If the deceased was religious or had certain beliefs to be honoured then, by all means, incorporate them in some way but do not feel that the ceremony has to be led by these beliefs.

As individuals, perhaps we feel uneasy or unqualified to conduct a memorial service for a loved one, thinking that we may get it wrong or be disrespectful, especially when there is such a well-established industry around funerals. There is, however, no reason why you cannot hold your own ceremony for a loved one in any way you see fit, but I strongly advise that it should consist of a beginning, a middle and an end. Ending a ceremony is especially important psychologically, as this draws a line under proceedings and formally concludes the ceremony, thereby providing a sense of closure. Below is a suggestion that you may wish to use. Both the individual and group memorial services follow a similar outline.

· Prepare the area ready for the ceremony.

· Open the space.

· Conduct the memorial service.

· Close the space.

· Give thanks and ensure everyone present is grounded.

· Clear the area of personal items.

As a note, conducting such a ceremony doesn’t mean that you have to let their memory go totally or are saying goodbye forever, let alone be free of the emotions or feelings you have for your loved one. The pain may well endure, the grief still present, but it is my hope (and experience) that you will be lighter and more comfortable in your own feelings, knowing that you have held a sacred ceremony based upon your love for the deceased. Of course, your loved one will not be forgotten and will forever live on in your memory.

Individual Ceremony

The ceremony described here has its roots in the natural world and my shamanic training. As far as I know, it is not an appropriated sacred ceremony. As every culture and society has its own take on preparing a loved one for whatever lies beyond this life, there is no right or wrong way to carry out such a ceremony. There is also no need for any religious or spiritual beliefs to conduct such a ceremony. Intention, respect and love are all that matter.

Plan and prepare for your ceremony. Pick a time and day, and choose a suitable space for the ceremony. Ideally, a private space and one where you feel comfortable releasing any emotion. Either indoors or outdoors is okay. The dress code is entirely up to you. Dress up if you like, wear black or be casual. Whatever you feel comfortable wearing is OK. Collect together a few of your loved one’s personal items, such as clothing, shoes, jewellery, etc., along with one photograph. The following may seem a little macabre, but I suggest positioning their possessions as if the deceased were lying down. Use a rolled-up blanket, pillows or cushions covered with a sheet or similar to represent the body and adorn it with their clothes. Place shoes at one end, jewellery where it would usually be worn and put the photograph near the head area. An actual photograph or one on a phone or tablet is fine. If you do not have any personal items, lay a sheet over the rolled-up blanket, pillows or cushions, and place a surrogate pair of shoes at one end and the photograph at the other. There’s no need to go into too much detail here, just enough to evoke the sense that their body is in the room.

Don’t forget a glass of water and a box of tissues. It’s worth preparing for some emotion to come up, and in doing so, you are subconsciously telling yourself that shedding tears is OK. In fact, during this preparation process, you will probably feel very emotional anyway. Go into the emotion as it comes up. Cry. Release. You don’t have to save up the emotion for the ceremony itself. This whole process is for you to go as fully as possible into your grief, allowing emotion to come up and be released whenever and however it manifests. In a way, this process started as soon as you decided to conduct the ceremony.

Before you begin the ceremony, open sacred space. Opening space marks the beginning of the service, recognising the space as being ceremonial (for the duration of the ceremony), and is a way to say, “I am here, and I am ready to hold this ceremony for my loved one.” However you wish to open space is fine, as it is the intention that counts. Some suggestions are to either say an opening prayer, invite the spirit of your loved one to be present, call to the directions (north, south, east, west, below and above), connect with God, Goddess, angels, spiritual leaders or spirit animals, or ask for ancestors and other loved ones in spirit to come and be with you.

There is no right or wrong here or a necessity for any belief in the afterlife to do this. It is the intention that holds the power, not the reality of the situation. The intention is to invite those unseen (and energies unseen) to be present with you at this ceremony and comes only from a place of love. You are asking for help shifting the emotions of this life, the powerful feelings surrounding the loss and passing over of a loved one. It should feel both respectful and comforting. At no time should there be a fear of ghosts or anything supernatural. Only ever love.

Alternatively, offer up a humble request to the Universe, or for that outside of your consciousness (maybe your subconscious), to be present with you today for this ceremony. Allow any wording to come from the heart. Whatever words you use will be fine, as it is the intention that matters. If you are unsure, prepare something to say beforehand. Even though you are conducting this ceremony alone, try to say the words out loud and not only in your head. Burn some incense, smudge (the wafting of smoke from smouldering sacred plants or wood) or light a candle if you are drawn to. Play background music if you wish. Create an atmosphere that feels right for you.

So, you have prepared the space, set the scene and asked for help from whatever lies outside of your consciousness. Now is the time for the main body of the ceremony and for you to speak from the heart about your loved one. Speak your words as if they can hear you. Say what you want to say to them. Maybe say things that were not said when they were alive. Clear the air, get everything off your chest. Speak as if you were having a conversation with them, with their spirit. Pretending they are there or listening, whether you believe they can hear or not, psychologically brings you closer to them, thus creating a more personal and authentic ceremony. Talk freely with them and chat about whatever comes up. Even seemingly banal things if they come to mind. There is no need to rush, so spend as long as you want with this. Accept it will be a one-way conversation, but be open to signs of a response, an acknowledgement from the Universe for your humble ceremony. Maybe seeing a specific bird or animal in your garden, hearing a certain noise, or even seeing a particular image or programme on TV or the internet later that day. Do not get caught up in a two-way dialogue unless you are comfortable with your psychic abilities.

If you feel like you want to cry, sob, wail or collapse, do so. This is the chance for a release of emotion and the clearing of any emotional blockage. Feelings of embarrassment may surface by this show of emotion, but as you are conducting the ceremony alone and in private where nobody else can see or hear you, these feelings should pass quickly. Be brave. Go as deep as you can. Tap the throat, heart or belly areas with your fingertips to aid the release. You can also try drumming or rattling (a steady medium-paced beat) to give a background pulse to help occupy your mind and drive the release. If you don’t have a hand drum or rattle, there are audio files or videos online that can be used instead. Having a wooden staff or walking stick for support and grounding is also helpful as it is something natural to hold, giving a solid connection to the earth.

Many emotions can come up, and perhaps not only around the person you are holding the ceremony for. Others who have died may come to mind, as may a pet or beloved animal, and you may release emotion around their passing. There may be emotions around broader issues such as the coronavirus pandemic, habitat loss, declining species numbers and extinctions, pollution, disease, war, famine, natural disasters, etc. Allow whatever wants to come up to be expressed and released.

When you feel you have released as much as possible, tell your loved one that it is time to send them on their way. At this point, you may want to drum or rattle and visualise their spirit being taken away into the ether. Maybe chant or sing, and say “goodbye”, “thank you”, “I love you”, or any other parting words you wish, words to help send them on their journey beyond this life. There is no right or wrong here. If it comes from the heart, then it is right. Feel as though you are helping them on their way, letting them go to wherever and whatever lies beyond.

This intention of sending them on their way reinforces any similar soul flight that may have occurred since their death. Even if you (or the deceased) have no belief in an afterlife, speaking out loud helps shift the emotions, more so than only thinking the sentiment. The act of sending them on their way as best you can is a potent symbol of your love. It can often provide some level of closure. As a suggestion, try using an eagle (or similar bird of prey) in your visualisation of their spirit or soul moving on. Visualise the eagle flying down and lifting your loved one up and away into the sky, reuniting them with the Universe/God/Great Spirit.

Do your best to set them free and let them go a little more in your heart.

When you feel ready, close the space, signifying the end of the ceremony. This is done simply by thanking those unseen that you invited when you opened the space for coming and being present with you throughout the ceremony, whether you felt their presence or not. If you called in the directions, turn to face each one and give thanks. Give a final thank you to your loved one, knowing that you have done your best in sending them on their way spiritually. Spend a few moments in gratitude for what has transpired and feel proud that you have completed a beautiful ceremony honouring your beloved.

Afterwards, ensure you feel grounded and back in the present moment. A simple way to do this is to imagine roots coming from the bottom of your feet into the earth and connecting you to the planet. Feel balanced. If you have one, hold a wooden staff or stick, and feel the direct connection down through the wood into the earth. Having something to eat and drink or going for a walk in nature are also good ways to ground yourself.

As soon as possible after the ceremony and when you feel able to, clear up the area where you have been conducting the memorial, removing all the items. Try and do this with a lighter heart and a feeling of gratitude. Be careful not to create a shrine, as this is holding on rather than letting go.

If, on reflection, you feel there was more to be said or that you didn’t do something correctly, you can always try writing a heartfelt letter to the deceased and posting it to the Universe or burning it ceremonially. Alternatively, hold another memorial service at a later date. That said, if the intention was there, one ceremony should be enough, even if it was not exactly how you wanted it. Undoubtedly it was as it should have been.

Group Ceremony

Before holding a memorial service with other people present, I strongly advise conducting one on your own, to familiarise yourself with the process and provide the opportunity to tap into your own grief. When the individual ceremony has been completed, choose an appropriate date for the group ceremony and invite those you wish to attend. Inform them of the general outline of the service, asking them to bring one object that reminds them of the deceased. Also, advise them on what to wear. People often default to black, but whatever people feel comfortable wearing to such an event should be fine.

On the day of the service, prepare the space where you will conduct the ceremony. Use the rolled-up blanket or similar to represent the body and place the objects and photograph appropriately. Keep one particular item for the ceremony itself. Have water and tissues handy. When all your guests arrive, make them as comfortable as possible with what is about to happen. When conducting a ceremony, it is hard to please everyone due to their various beliefs, but all that matters is the intention and an open heart. Let them know this is a safe and loving space to show and release their emotions.

Open the space as you choose. The same method used in the individual ceremony is okay. Smudge or burn incense and light a candle. Play some background music, but remember this is not a celebration of the deceased’s life. This ceremony provides a space for those present to release, let go and move through the grief process. So any music should be soft, soothing and maybe even sad. This is a space to go into the sadness and grief to release it, not to mask or avoid it. As with the individual ceremony, invite God, Great Spirit, ancestors, the directions, etc., to be present. Whatever feels suitable for the group is fine.

Show those present what to do by starting the process yourself. Place the object you have kept back on the representation of the body and speak your words to your beloved. Talk from the heart. Then invite each person, in turn, to come to the body, place down the object they have brought and say what they have to say, speaking as if the deceased were in the room. Give everyone time to say as much as they wish and allow them the space to release. I suggest that if anyone begins crying, wailing or even collapses on the floor, allow them the space to do this without consolation.

It is only natural that we want to console someone grieving and clearly in emotional pain. We want their pain to stop. We don’t like how their pain makes us feel as it holds up a mirror to the grief we may be struggling to release from our hearts. But, by going to them, holding them or comforting them only acts to interrupt and stop their grief process. If you feel you must do something, tell them they are being extremely brave and now is the time to go deeply into the grief. Often one person’s courage to lay bare their emotions can be a trigger for others present to do the same. One person’s crying gives another permission to cry. So expressing these emotions is both cathartic and helpful to the group. Only if deep emotional releasing is prolonged and becomes too much should anyone be helped and comforted. You have to be the judge of this. Drumming or rattling with a repetitive beat can distract people’s minds and help with grounding during and after the sharing and releasing.

Once all present have had time to speak, give everyone a final chance to say something. Often, by being in the ceremonial energy and witnessing family members or friends open up, others can become confident to speak freely and from the heart.

Conclude the ceremony by singing or chanting, sending the energy or spirit of the deceased on their way and saying goodbye. Keep any chant or song short and repetitive so everyone can join in easily. Ideally, do not use words, as these convey a specific meaning and not everyone’s interpretation will be the same. Try singing or chanting from the heart and see what notes come out. As with the individual ceremony, ask those present to visualise the spirit of the deceased being taken away to the heavens, maybe by an eagle, to be reunited with the Universe, the ancestors, Great Spirit or God.

Allow the energies of the ceremony to settle with a few seconds of quiet contemplation.

Give thanks to those present for coming and being open to what has just happened, and to feel proud for being part of a beautiful ceremony honouring the deceased. Close the space and thank those unseen, be they ancestors, Great Spirit, God or the Universe for being with you today. Encourage everyone to ground themselves, imagining roots coming from their feet and going deep into the earth while taking a few balancing deep breaths.

Once the ceremony is formally closed, it is a good idea to share some food and drink, gather around a real fire or go for a walk together so everyone can chat, relax and feel more grounded.

When ready, clear the room and remove all the items and possessions as the ceremony is now over. Do not leave the objects in place to become a shrine. Giving away your loved one’s possessions, perhaps saving only a few keepsakes, is cathartic and can be done when the time feels right. Love is about letting go, not holding on.

The loss of a baby or child

Losing a child is painful, whatever the circumstances, and the grief felt must be unimaginable to those who have not been through such a traumatic event. Some comfort may be found in conducting an individual memorial or passing-over ceremony. Of course, there is likely to be a broader range of emotions felt, such as a deeper sense of injustice, a more pronounced feeling of loss, tremendous guilt (whatever the circumstances of the death), acrimonious blame or the shattering thought of a life not lived. It is also not the normal order of things. A child should outlive their parents.

I would suggest that any memorial is carried out with both parents present instead of individually, as this allows each parent to be there for one another and to understand more of the other’s perspective, as the mother and father may differ in their grief and how they show it. Then, if wanted, a larger ceremony can be undertaken with more family members. To represent the child, use something small (maybe a doll or teddy bear) wrapped in a blanket. Again use a photo and place any sentimental objects on or near the blanket. Carry out the memorial in a similar way to the individual or group ceremony outlined previously, again with the primary intention of working through the grief from such a tragic loss.

Losing a child through abortion or miscarriage is clearly also traumatic, particularly for the mother, who may have had to face the tragedy in private, possibly even alone. There is no reason a memorial service cannot be held for this loss, conducted similarly to the loss of a child ceremony, using a small doll/teddy (or whatever feels right for you) wrapped in a blanket to represent the unborn life. Also, I suggest not giving a name to the child if it was never met in life, as parents may change their minds on a name once the child is born. This is, however, a personal choice.

Gravestones, memorials and the scattering of ashes

The use of a gravestone, memorial plaque, planting of a tree or any other way of remembering and honouring your loved one are all personal and entirely down to the individual and family wishes. However, I would say that it is best to avoid forming a shrine to the deceased, which is often the case when it comes to the loss of a baby or child. Many small graves in cemeteries are elaborately decorated and adorned with children’s toys, playthings and photographs. Clearly, any comfort the parents and family can take by tending the grave is paramount, but be careful not to let it become a shrine over time. How much time is enough is up to the individual, and each parent or family will be different, especially when there is peer or family pressure, guilt or shame.

Scattering ashes is personal and can be carried out however you see fit. By all means, create a ceremony around the process, but saying a few words or even simply being in a loving state of remembrance when you scatter the ashes is enough to honour your beloved.

Letting someone go (whatever their age) with love is to set them free. Holding their memory in your heart is enough but conducting a memorial service or passing-over ceremony, as outlined previously, can be cathartic and help those affected move on.


It is my sincerest wish that you feel able to honour your deceased loved one in any way you see fit, whenever and however they may have passed.

And it is my hope that what I have written has been useful, and given you an idea of what can be done above and beyond a traditional funeral by, and for, yourself, further honouring your beloved and helping with your own grief process.

With much love

Trevor Cowan

Letting Go

We have all been through difficult times and have people or issues from our past that may still be influencing us emotionally or mentally today.  Below is a process that can help address these emotions and clear any blockages, allowing us to move on.


Begin by identifying the top three traumas or emotional situations you want to let go of along with the people involved. By letting go I mean transmuting the emotions into energies that can be dissipated. You will always have the memory but the emotional charge with it should be eliminated or, at the very least, reduced considerably.

So, let’s say you have three people or issues you want to work with.

Find something physical that represents the person/issue you are working with, ideally something from nature. Keep this item with you when you follow the below process. You will be letting this object go too, so make sure you are ok with that.

This first step is similar to the Hawaiian process, Ho’opono pono, but a rather more distilled version.

Firstly, find a safe and private space to “work” in (I call any spiritual and emotional healing or releasing work). Make sure you will not be interrupted. You can do this anywhere but, ideally, you should be sat at a table, preferably wooden.

Imagine and feel the person sitting opposite you. If it is an issue and not a person, visualise the issue or yourself as you were during the issue, sitting opposite.

Say to them (out loud or in your head),

“I’m sorry.

Please forgive me.

Thank you.

I love you”

Do this slowly, concentrating upon and feeling each sentence.

“I’m sorry.” Feel repentance even if you know you were not at fault. Take responsibility for what happened. Somewhere guilt sits between you and the other person. Maybe you are clearing for both of you. If it is a situation, let any remorse take over you. Let any tears flow or sobbing come forth. Even curl up on the floor if that’s where the pain sends you. This is your time to release. Do whatever it takes to let it out from your body. Tapping the throat, heart or belly will help any release.

“Please forgive me.” This shows humility. Again, even if you are convinced it was not your fault, take the higher ground. And again, most definitely feel this. Forgiveness clears the past. You are also asking for forgiveness for yourself at the time. Perhaps for putting yourself in that particular situation. Spiritually we are children. We are allowed and meant to make mistakes; they help us grow.

“Thank you.” Be in deep gratitude. For the person, for the situation that has helped you grow, for the lessons learnt, for being you, and for being able to take this step.

“I love you.” Say this to the person or the issue, and send as much love as possible out into the Universe. Realise that by saying this, you are saying that you love yourself too. Accept this love back for yourself.

It may also be helpful if you can ‘see’ (in your mind) the other person and notice how they react when you say each of the above sentences.

When finished, blow any residual emotions, feelings or energies into the object and rub it on your body to draw out any further negativity. Find somewhere to throw it away where it will be lost, even if just in the dustbin. Do not throw it at someone, into a neighbour’s garden or where it can be found easily. Throwing it into the undergrowth, a quarry, a forest, a river, a lake or the sea are all good examples.

Do this for each of the people/issues you want to release energetically.

When you feel you have finished, spend some time in gratitude for what you have just accomplished and ensure you feel grounded before carrying on with your day.



My friend John

My friend John (1967-2017)

In late 2016, I decided to go to India, and as I had recently moved out of my home in Billericay, Essex, my friend John kindly offered to put me up whilst I planned the trip. It took about three weeks to organise the visa, tickets, vaccinations, etc. and it was during this time that I met John’s sister, Teresa, and her grown-up children, Daniel and Matilda. Teresa had recently been diagnosed with cancer and was back in the UK, from her home in Sweden, to sort out some of her affairs. A difficult time for everyone, but John put on a brave face and tried to be bright and bubbly, however, the underlying stress was apparent.

As I spent time with John, he shared more of his worries and concerns that were depriving him of sleep. Not only his sister’s illness but work and relationship troubles. He had left his job at the family farm and was trying to take stock of his life and find a new direction. He even applied for a builders merchant manager’s job, for which he was way overqualified, but was unsuccessful.

He had split with his partner some time ago but still regularly saw his two girls, Isabella and Ayesha. John’s house had several rooms that were devoted to the girls, adorned with pop band posters, cuddly toys and the like, and the wardrobes and drawers were crammed with their clothes, ready for when they stayed. In the three weeks with John, I got to know his daughters a little and saw how he absolutely doted upon them. They wanted for nothing. Both the girls, although quite different in character, came across as intelligent, well mannered and considerate. They could even take themselves off to bed without a fuss. As almost teenagers, this was impressive.

At the end of November, with a six-month visa and no real plan in mind, I left for India. Some healthy food, walking, a little sightseeing and yoga was as far as my intention went.

I swapped whatsapp messages with John and sent the odd photo of my travels but then, in early January 2017, he sent a message saying he had been diagnosed with cancer.

The shock I felt must have been nothing compared to that felt by John and his family. From then on I was in regular contact with both John and another close friend, Kevin, who kept me abreast of the situation. Speaking with John on the phone, I was surprised to hear how upbeat he was but understandably that didn’t last. As his situation worsened he became more accepting and reflective.

During one of the many email exchanges we had, John replied with the below, after I had written about some of my spiritual thoughts and beliefs:

“Hi Trev,

That was a very thoughtful message.

Believe it or not, I don’t think what you have suggested is something I don’t believe in.

As I said to you, my body has been out of alignment with its natural state for years. Essentially I realised that I’m not a hard-nosed businessman in pursuit of untold riches. I pursued a life that never suited my personality. I’m not a greedy and selfish person deep down. I now believe following this path has led to my illness.

The stress this has brought has caused me untold damage.

I think you knew I wasn’t well when you were here. I was quite sure there was something wrong hence my visits to doctors. It was a virus that triggered the cancer off over Christmas. It was almost like it was waiting to be kickstarted. If you remember I told you I couldn’t breathe in the pool in Sweden while at my sister’s.

Stupidly I didn’t push the doctors for a simple X-ray and just listened to them saying there was nothing wrong.

I guess now I’m facing the daunting task of operations, chemo and radiation treatments. Basically, a sledgehammer to open a walnut.

I do now need a deep healing within my body to withstand this onslaught. I’m looking at ways to meditate and find peace with myself.

As you can imagine, I have just told my children the news and the devastation I feel inside is a pain I cannot explain. My head at night is in turmoil. Sleep, as you well know, is now a precious commodity.

All my dreams, hopes and plans are distant memories. We talked about riding across America on a Harley, finishing my flying course, etc.. Now I face the fear and emptiness of this long dark road. Time suddenly feels like it has stood still while I watch everyone move forward past me.

It’s almost like you have stepped into God’s waiting room.

To make things worse I had to break the news to my sister who is dying that I cannot give her stem cells to fight her disease. We both get cancer within months of each other. I was already suffering her burden in my mind and now she is staying looking after me!

If you believe in fate then I left work 5 months ago and maybe something has given me this time to reflect before I face this trial.

I just hope I can face this with dignity and not let my daughters suffer watching me waste away. I hope you find that peace and end the pain of the Tinnitus. I can assure you my sister and I knew you were going through hell with it. Again, unless you live it for a day you cannot understand the torment.

I want you to have a good life and find a woman to share life with. At times like these you realise only love, friendship and happiness really matter.

Enjoy your trip and hopefully, I’ll still be around when you come back.

The girls are here and they said hello, as does Teresa.”

I held a couple of shamanic ceremonies for John on the beach and upon a clifftop, near where I was staying in India. They seemed to make sense to me, and I got confirmation back from the universe that I was on the right track in the form of acknowledging sights and sounds – a local man asking for a photo with me, just as I finished the small ceremony on the beach (I had been discreet and he had not seen me conduct it), a bell being rung in the distance when I completed the clifftop work and a multitude of eagles swooping around the cliff face and soaring on the updraft.  

During my time in India, I spent a week in the city of Trivandrum, Kerala, where, as serendipity would have it, Amma, “The Hugging Mother”, was holding an event. I went along and took a sacred stone that I was using in the work I was doing with, and for, John, said prayers for him and left it in the temple. Again this felt right.

However, after a few weeks working shamanically, it felt as though I could do no more where I was and, as I had been thinking about flying back to the UK to be with my friend, I booked a ticket back.

I returned in early February and stayed at John’s house. Teresa was there nursing him as best she could, and many other family members and friends came to help and offer their support. But John had deteriorated rapidly. I worked with John using my teachings and was there to help out as necessary, even if that only meant making cups of tea for the many visitors. My ideal, of course, was to be able to help him battle the disease and cure himself, but that seemed out of the question now as destiny had other plans.

The decision was made to move John to a hospice, and I agreed to spend the first night with him so he was not alone in a strange place. Teresa could also try and get some rest, as she had been in constant attendance since coming over from Sweden.  

As night fell, the hospice became quiet and all I could hear was the sound of the oxygen machine, rhythmically pumping out life to a slow morbid beat. I lay awake on the bed in John’s room as he drifted in and out of a medicated consciousness in the chair just around the corner. I may have grabbed some sleep but mainly I lay and meditated and prayed. I did some more shamanic work with John, again hoping in some way it would help him or, at least, to try and overcome any fear of death. But there was little, if any, energy left in him.

Around noon the next day Teresa returned with her dad and brother, so I left, saying my heartfelt goodbyes to John in case I didn’t see him again and returned to his empty house in Southend.

I did more shamanic work that night and realised I needed to do some anger-releasing work with him when I returned to the hospice the following day. I have a piece of broken mirrored haematite in my mesa, or medicine bundle, that represents anger which I use with clients. This healing was confirmed when I noticed another smaller piece of haematite stone under John’s empty massage chair, a stone given to him by another friend who had offered his spiritual support.  

The next day I packed my mesa and shamanic “tools” into my backpack and made my way to the hospice.

But I arrived to the sad news that John had passed earlier in the morning.

I supported the family in their grief as best I could without being intrusive. Whilst sitting talking with his Teresa, I offered to conduct a shamanic style soul release ceremony for John, to send his spirit off to wherever it goes next, even though I had never done one before – I’d only been taught it. I told his sister this but she asked me to do it anyway. So I did. His whole family came into the room where John was laid out and I carried out the ceremony.

Teresa and other family members thanked me afterwards and said how beautiful it was.

Sometime later I walked along the beach near the hospice with the small piece of mirror-like haematite in my hand. I knew I had to release it into the sea and was drawn to a monument, an obelisk about thirty metres out from the shore, but reachable due to the low tide. I think it is a World War II monument but I’m not entirely sure [subsequent research in 2023 tells me it is called the Crowstone and marks the limit of the jurisdiction of the Port of London], however, I knew the stone had to be placed there, for the tide to come in and wash away. It was also within sight of the hospice so the connection was strong. As I walked out on this wonderfully becalmed day, I looked down to see a small mirrored heart lying on the stoney foreshore. I knew that this was to come with the stone and I placed both of them on the side of the obelisk, said goodbye to John in spirit again and left feeling somewhat lighter amidst such a tragedy.

Farewell, my friend. Safe travels wherever you are.



It didn’t go unnoticed to me that the place where I received most of my shamanic training was almost directly opposite the hospice in Westcliff and my stepmother, Margaret, had volunteered at the same hospice. Yet more synchronicities confirming to me a connection to something bigger

With blessings


April 2017 (updated 2023)

“what is”

I have always trusted science and the proofs and truths it has afforded me through my education. However, through my spiritual work, I now understand that science does not explain everything. In time, its envelope will increase to encompass what is currently unclear, such as the quantum world, the human brain, consciousness, black holes, dark matter, etc., and maybe even some spiritual techniques. But it will always be a subset of what humanity (or some of humanity) already know, and this, in turn, is just a part of “what is” or how things are (see below pdf). Gravity, for example, was never discovered. It has always been there doing its thing. Perhaps other forces are there too, just waiting to be detected, measured and recognised by science. Maybe some of them can be felt and used in healing. Perhaps there have always been people using these forces or energies to help others.

Shamans think so.

what is