Birthing Death with Jerrigrace Lyons & Leslene della Madre

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"It's strange to think that we care for somebody all our lives and then, as soon as their heart stops or they stop breathing, we send their body away immediately. It's very disruptive. It leaves the space empty, people feeling helpless; their confidence to take care of this person has been undermined by giving this ritual away to other people." With this observation, Jerrigrace Lyons defines the foundation for a shift in the way we handle death. She and Leslene della Madre are midwives, not to birth, but to the passage out of this life. Culturally we have learned to look the other way at the time of death, until we find ourselves afraid of the process and of handling the body that remains. But, in recent years, more and more people are returning to ancient practices of caring for the body of a deceased loved one at home, rather than relinquishing it to the care of a funeral home. After years of supporting families through this process, Ms. Lyons and Ms. della Madre have gained deep insight and wisdom about what it means to heal through death. Their words will invite you to explore the ancient rituals for honoring a deceased loved one in a way that ultimately brings you closer to yourself. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Jerrigrace Lyons is a Reiki Master, a Trager practitioner, and the founder of Final Passages, a nonprofit organization that seeks to educate people about funeral and burial options. She conducts a home funeral ministry.

She’s the author of:

To learn more about the work of Jerrigrace Lyons go to

Leslene della Madre is the founder of Winged Women Return, a center for shamanic healing.

She’s the author of:

To learn more about the work of Leslene della Madre go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • How a home funeral can make the grieving process easier
  • How your mothering instincts and skills can ease a loved one's passage into death
  • What we lose when we lack a direct understanding of the death process
  • How children can be willing and insightful participants in a home funeral
  • Why witnessing death is similar to witnessing birth

Host: Justine Willis Toms      Interview Date: 3/2/2006      Program Number: 3137

Music Included

From Album: Praises for the World
Artist: Jennifer Berezan & Friends
2000 Edge of Wonder Records EW13

From Album: What Worlds They Bring
Artist: Danny Heines
2002 Vadadisc #VA1171

From Album: Rhythm of the Ancients
Artist: Medwyn Goodall
2002 New World Music #NW-CD 526