In shamanic traditions, death is a natural cycle of life, allowing for grief, but also for joy in a loved one's presence and contribution to the community, and also what they will continue to contribute, via the spirit world, in their altered physical state beyond death.
On death, a soul is released to the forces of nature, either within Mother Earth, or to Father Sky and the stars themselves. Rites would be performed by the shaman of the village to prepare the body and soul of the one passing, and then a ritual and ceremony would be performed by the entire village to honour the passing of their loved one.
The "funeral" is the death rite of the modern western world. In current times, due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are unable to be with our loved ones at the point of death, and we are not allowed to hold our usual funerals for them.
It's incredibly important for the soul departing, and also the souls staying, that these rites are done so we can "complete" the death process and release our grief and our joy for their journey. You do not have to be a shaman or a vicar - we are all masters of ourselves and we can connect to our guiding Source (Great Spirit / God / All That Is) whenever we wish, and we can do so, also, to perform these rites.
Below, I've written a simplified version of a Death Rite that anyone can do at home to honour their loved one and help to release them to their next adventure. You can also download it in PDF format if you wish. The Rites include a simple and optional visualisation process involving the seven main chakras of the energy body. (Note: the chakra sheet you can download below I wrote for another workshop and is perhaps a little detailed - the important bit to note for this rite is simply the colours and positions of the chakras.)
Simple Death Rite
This can be done alone or with family and friends. It can be performed after a person has died, or even before a person dies (if you know they are going to) to prepare them and yourself for the journey.
Before you start, set up an altar (a small table) in a place in your house or garden that you consider to be peaceful and calm. This altar will symbolise the person(s) you are honouring, with one (or more) candle in the middle that will symbolise their spirit and their soul's light. Decorate the altar with anything you like that you feel represents those you are passing or have passed.
When you are ready to begin the rite take yourself to the altar. Do whatever you usually do to create your sacred space, whether it is to use a clearing spray, burn oils, smudge, or call in the four directions. If you do not have a specific method, you can imagine a bright, white or gold light moving up from the core of Mother Earth at your request, through your space, and removing all toxic or negative energies as it disappears upwards into the ether.
If you like, you can call in your spirit guide or guardian angel at this point to be with you and offer you support and comfort.
Say, "Dear Great Spirit / God / Creation / All That Is (or any term you usually use for any deity or Living Consciousness), I/we are here before you to honour the natural cycles of life and death and we ask for your guidance in doing so."
Light your candle(s) and say, "I/We light this candle/these candles for (names of those you are releasing) in love and with thanks for all they have taught me/us and given me/us."
Stand back, close your eyes, and feel yourself in your body as you breathe in and out. Then open your eyes and focus on the flame. As you look at the flame, imagine this person(s) in your mind and take it in turns to say out loud anything you'd like to say to them now - any thanks you'd like to give, or any memories you'd like to share.
This will not apply to everyone, and while it may seem controversial, you can even speak of any anger or resentment you would like to release for things they have aggravated within you, as sometimes this needs to be done, too, in order to release a soul, and yourself from their soul. This aspect is usually best done alone, or with family/friends you know will not be hurt by your words. You may even want to do this before the rite as a way to release any of the more negative feelings from your system before beginning the rite. If you choose to do it now, as part of the rite, it is important that you END as above, with words of thanks and gratitude.
THIS PART BELOW WITH THE CHAKRAS IS OPTIONAL - IT IS OFFERED FOR THOSE WHO FEEL CONFIDENT IN ENERGY WORK.
Now return to the image in your mind of the one you are releasing, and visualise them with the seven chakras shining brightly along their central column. This part can be done quietly or out loud, and you will have to do it in turn for each person if this is a "joint funeral" and everyone taking part can visualise this:
Reach out in your mind, starting with the base (red) chakra, and say, "Thank you for the foundations you have taught me." And then (in your mind or with your actions) reach out with your hand and turn their base chakra, once, anti-clockwise as if your are loosening a nut from a screw. Do the same with all seven chakras in this order:
Base Chakra - "Thank you for the foundations you have taught me." (Turn it anti-clockwise.)
Sacral Chakra - "Thank you for the expression and community you have taught me." (Turn it anti-clockwise.)
Solar Plexus Chakra - "Thank you for the boundaries and empowerment you have taught me." (Turn it anti-clockwise.)
Throat Chakra - "Thank you for the creativity and communication you have taught me." (Turn it anti-clockwise.)
Third Eye Chakra - "Thank you for the imagination and the wider world you have taught me." (Turn it anti-clockwise.)
Crown Chakra - "Thank you for the reason and wisdom you have taught me." (Turn it anti-clockwise.)
Heart Chakra - "Thank you for the self love and love for All that you have taught me." (Turn it anti-clockwise.)
On the last one, the Heart Chakra, feel their spirit easily detach from their physical body and fly free in joy. If you wish, you can say, "I/We release (name of person) into the hands of Great Spirit / God / Creation / All That Is (or any term you usually use for any deity or Living Consciousness) to follow their new path in peace."
END OF THE OPTIONAL CHAKRA WORK.
Take a moment to say goodbye in your heart.
You can now "close" your space any way you wish, say thanks to all spirits present, and blow out the candle(s) whenever you are ready.
Do not worry you are doing the above "wrong" - you cannot do it wrong. The person leaving is being guided by their own spirit guides and angels as they release from their attachments on earth; you do not need to worry about that. What you are doing is helping the process be ten times easier at their end and yours, while providing everyone with closure, and it is work that is gratefully received by Spirit - more than you might know.