I attended a funeral this week. From the moment I walked through the doors, I knew I would not be able to walk by the casket or hug the widow. The funeral of my sister who died last year from M.S. flooded my mind and I could hardly breathe.
Solemn is the only way I can describe it. The air was heavy with grief. The throng that attended testified to the love that was felt for the soul at rest. White flowers were everywhere signifying that a holy ritual was taking place.
Rites of passage and momentous ceremonies are important to our lives. The repetition engraves them on our hearts and makes them sweeter through the passing years. Rituals secure familial ties and bring us full circle from birth to death.
Not all was somber and sad. There was time for celebration as family members shared funny stories and a musical slide presentation of happy events. People wiped tears of laughter and pain from their eyes.
Some things are constant like love, loyalty and devotion. Death does not diminish what was cherished in life. We rejoice that suffering is ended, but we long to hold on to what was. Letting go is difficult. Grief is like peeling layers of self from an open wound. The soul bleeds internal tears that leave us fragile, exposed and spent.
A fatal ongoing illness does not prepare us for the final ending anymore than an abrupt and sudden death prevents us from wrestling with denial. We are never ready for a treasured life to end. The shock rattles us to the core. Our faith is tested. Without faith there is no hope for reconciliation. The void is there in either case like a black empty hole.
We all have different coping skills. At such a time as this, we find out how strong ours are. Do we turn to our friends and family for strength? Are we sustained by faith in God? Do we crumble in despair and turn to temporary substitutes that do not sustain and may harm us?
Who we are in the end is all we have. Has our life of living turned us into an empty shell, dependent on the goodness of others or the high of a new fix, or has our daily choices instilled us with courage, determination and hope?
Death comes to all of us. We are not immune to its grisly affects. Peace eventually rescues us from our abysmal fall and reminds us that death is not the end, but the beginning of our soul’s eternal journey.