At the time of death, family, friends, and neighbors will all crowd into the critical care unit hospital room (which can be difficult.) It is their tradition to show respect and appreciation for their relationship by being at bedside to say farewell. Once all are there, the dying person lets go. They believe death is but a transitional period, and that their energy is released into the world to become once again part of nature.
The death anniversary party is partly a memorial service and partly a tribute to the individuals who showed kindness to the departed loved one and the family. The guest of honor (this might be the best friend of the deceased), will carry a picture of the deceased to show it to all who attend. After a memorial service, the atmosphere changes, and the event becomes festive and joyful. Attendees will share a meal as they share happy memories and stories about the deceased. At the end of the party, attendees are honored by gifts - former belongings of the deceased's.
Please share your thoughts on the Lakota Sioux tradition. What did you find to be most helpful? What personal family traditions do you feel are helpful or healing?