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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I can't believe that was part of the Ceremony.

You can travel the world and back again, and when you break it all down grief is grief.  

I have had the opportunity to do some traveling and I have also met so many people from different parts of this globe.  When you peel back all the layers, we are all humans, with feelings, emotions and needs.  We may not admit it openly or readily, but we want to be cared for, loved and accepted.  

Death shows no partiality, it does not care what we look like, where we live, what we believe in, how old we are, or who is rich or poor.  Death is what we would call 'An Equal Opportuntity' type of event.  One thing is certain, it leaves those who have lost a loved one with so many raw emotions.  Whether you live in the United States, down under in Australia, over the ocean in Europe, in the far reaches of Asia, or Africa, the pain of death effects us all.  Yes, we may react differently as our cultures dictate, or our religious beliefs prescribe, but we all feel a sense of loss.  

I have seen news footage of many natural disasters both at home and abroad, war torn areas, and the aftermath of street violence, and in every instance, when the camera pans the bystanders, there are tears, disbelief, shock and the pained look of so many. 

Everyone grieves the death of someone they love, someone who was very dear to them.  We all feel the emptiness, the doubt, and the pain that comes with death.  True, depending on where you live, or what customs and beliefs you may practice, will greatly determine how you act and respond at the funeral.  

Some cultures and religious beliefs require that the burial occur within a certain time frame, and have a set period of time dedicated to mourning.  Some cultures believe that the deceased has now set off on yet another leg of his journey, and they prepare the way for them.  Some bury the possessions with the deceased, others leave food and supplies, and anything else they may feel will help the deceased in the after life.  Still others have the solemn ceremony followed by a celebration of the life of the deceased.  There are still some cultures that hire professional mourners to honor the deceased.  There are others that believe that the deceased become one with nature, their spirit joins the wind, trees, etc.  

How ever we say our farewells, everyone treats their deceased with respect and honor, believing that they should be given as much respect in death as they received in life, sometimes more so in death.  In most cases, the bereaved are encourage to express their grief, to cry out, to honor their deceased loved one, by sharing their emotions.  

When Rachel died, we met with the funeral director, we made the arrangements, selected the date and time of the wake and funeral service, and contacted our church.  We invited family and friends to be her pall bearers, read at Mass, and to be involved in those areas of the funeral that they could.  Rachel's funeral had many different aspects because of her age, the suddenness of it, and the impact her death had on the communities were we lived. 

It began with a wake, followed by the funeral the following day.  Because of the number of people attending, we had police escorts to guide vehicles through traffic.  Rachel was a free spirit and lived her life to the fullest, and in order to acknowledge this the hearse was led by a motorcycle escort as well.  Her friends being young, also added a different air the the entire proceedings, they shared words of remembrance and all brought a special token to be placed at her grave.  Rachel's funeral was a beautiful celebration of her life, and later we gathered at our home to spend time together, sharing stories of Rachel, and just being in each others company.  We fully celebrated my daughter's life, in a way that truly represented who Rachel was, what she believed in and how she would want to be remembered. 

Many family and friends still gather each year at the anniversary of Rachel's death.  They attend a memorial Mass and join us for a gathering, in which we all share a meal, enjoy the memories and the fact that our daughter still continues to bring people together.  Like I stated earlier, it was beautiful, it was all she would have wanted and more, it was a true tribute to the person she was.  

So regardless of were you live, what you believe in, what you do to honor your deceased, allow yourself to grieve.  Share you emotions with others, so often those present will take their cues from the bereaved family.  Do whatever will help you through this transition, through the darkness.  

Rachel's funeral and burial were not easy, but I can look back on that day and know that she was loved, not only by her immediate family, but by all those who attended the funeral.  I also know that she left her mark on many people, who still gather to celebrate her life.  

Let your love guide you through all this, let yourself feel, let yourself be part of the arrangements, and most importantly grieve and mourn the death of your loved one.  It hurts so much because you loved them so much.  

Therefore when it comes to death and dying we are all truly brothers and sisters, who share a common loss, who understand the pain that death can cause, and who hurt because they loved.    You will remember your loved one always, they are always a part of you, as near as the wind on your face.  

Let yourself grieve, let yourself feel, share with others, seek out others, who can help you through this time in your life.  

Love is always present and letting us know that we are not alone, there are many who are willing to take this journey through grief with us.  Open your heart, and let the love in.

Blessings! and until we meet again.

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