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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Like a Shooting Star

Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy. - Eskimo Proverb

This evening I attended a beautiful interfaith service entitled 'Hope.'  It was hosted by the local Visiting Nurses Association, and all were welcome to attend.  Upon arrival at the church, attendees were given a program, a gold star, a scroll and a candle.  I received my treasures as someone put it, found a seat and sat there just taking it all in.

There were many more people than I had expected, and the church was pretty full.  They said the welcome and opening remarks, a blessing was then offered in four different languages, Portuguese, French, Hebrew and English.  Throughout the service we were treated to the angelic voices of the choir, and their opening song was 'Amazing Grace' which I never tire of hearing.

I sat there trying to keep my tears at bay, as I listened to the music, took in the sights, and realized that everyone present had said good bye to someone they loved.  Then one of the staff members  invited the children present to come forward and sit around the altar.   She was going to share a story with them, each child was given a copy of the book so they could follow along.   She began to read the story, 'Lifetimes' by Robert Ingpen & Bryan Mellonie, it spoke of death, but in a way that made it all seem natural.   I would strongly recommend getting a copy for any child in your life who has had a loved one die.

Right after the storytelling, a young man came up to sing a tribute to his grandfather, and all those who served in the military, he was 6 years old, and did a wonderful rendition of 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home.'   Now you have probably already guessed it, I couldn't stop the tears, listening to that little boy proudly sing a song in honor and memory of his grandfather, just pushed me over the edge.

As I sat there, I realized that early on in the service, the children were the first to be consoled, to be addressed.   All to often, they are pushed aside as the adults try to cope with their own grief, forgetting that the children are hurting too.  They like us, want answers, want to know why someone they love very much has had to die.  The children, like that 6 year old, also want to be part of what is happening, they want to be included, and well they should be.   This person meant something to them too, they played with them, gave them hugs and kisses, spoiled them with treats, and just loved them unconditionally.

The quote at the beginning of this blog was one of a few quotes that were used throughout the service.  The chaplain who was leading the service also shared the story of the Little Prince
by Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry.   In Chapter 26, the Prince prepares to leave which saddens his companion.   He leaves him with this comment, 'In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night . . . You--only you--will have stars that can laugh!'

The Prince continues by saying, 'And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure . . . And your friends will be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up at the sky! Then you will say to them, 'Yes, the stars always make me laugh!'

When she had finished, we were all invited to come forward and hang the stars we had been given in memory of our loved ones.   Each person present hung their star, and after everyone had gone back to their seat, the overhead lights were dimmed and the stars were illuminated.   What a beautiful image it portrayed, and that we all have our own shining stars.

This was followed by a reflection from a family member, and then we lit the candles we were given, the lights were dimmed again, and we were all invited to say aloud our loved ones names.  People called out the names in unison with others, but it did not sound chaotic at all, it was actually quite lovely to hear the different voices call out a loved ones names.  This simple act allowed everyone present to let the world know that this was someone very special.  This was a person that they still love very much and that they miss dearly.

The candles representing the light our loved ones gave to us, the light they leave for each one of us.  Even though their candle may have been extinguished, a spark managed to remain in each one of us.  And every once in a while it glows, and we see it reflected in others, we see it shine in our own eyes, we recognize it in simple things, like the sunrises, the sunsets and the twinkling stars. It reminds us that they are always with us, always in our hearts.

I truly enjoyed the evening, I was with others who are coping with the death of a loved one, who understand the pain.  I felt a comfort in knowing I was definitely not alone, there are so many who are traveling this journey with me.

After tonight's service, I would strongly recommend attending any services that may be offered in your area.  It is an opportunity to be with others who have experienced the death of a loved one.  Especially if you feel you cannot speak of your loved one at home, with friends or at work.  Here everyone knows that it is important to talk about your loved one, to share their life story, to let others know what they meant to you.  To speak of them and remember them fondly. 

By sharing Rachel with all of you, by taking this journey with you, and allowing my self to be open to your wisdom, I am allowing myself to heal, to move forward.  It takes time and requires you to be patient with yourself, allowing yourself to move at the pace that is right for you.  There is no rushing grief, you need to allow yourself to take it one day at a time.

Be good to yourself, participate in remembrance services, or any other opportunities to share your loved one with the world.  There are many events offered right in your very own communities, especially now as we prepare to enter into the holiday season; a time when our pain seems to somehow intensify.  Check in your local papers, your house of worship, public libraries and even doctor's offices, they may have a list of upcoming events.  It you cannot find one in your area, ask your priest or minister to remember them in a Mass or Sunday service.  

Whatever you decide to do, know that it is what is best for you only.  Remember none of us needs to go this alone.  There are so many others who are willing to help us along.  We just need to take the first step and reach out to others.

Remember to let your memories sustain you, let love give you strength, and when you look up to the sky and spot the stars, just remember that they are shining down on you.  

Blessings! and until we meet again.


  1. The description of your evening was so moving that I was brought to tears. That sounds like such an amazing experience. You've inspired me to look for something similar in my area. I'll keep you posted!

  2. If you have a Hospice or VNA in your area, check with them. Also local hospitals will list interfaith services that are being offered around the holidays. The most beautiful aspect of the entire evening was knowing that our loved ones are cherished, that they need to be remembered, and that so many people understand the need of all those who mourn to allow their loved one to live on. It was an amazing tribute to life.

    Good Luck and God Bless!

    Rose Mary xoxoxo

  3. I am going to get in touch with Compassionate Care Hospice. They were wonderful people to my Mom but also to me & my Dad. Thank-You for sharing your night with us. It is true the holidays are coming and I am not looking forward to it at all, and my family do not understand and I cannot mention my Mother, it hurts deeply. She did live, she was my best friend, My Mother, My Confidante, and I feel like an empty shell, I have done nothing to prepare for Christmas and I don't know if I can do it. I did buy what I had to for Thanksgiving so that my family can eat together but oh I dread the day and it is not even here, but I will do what I have to not because I want to. God Bless You Rose Mary....& your loved ones also...

  4. The holidays are always difficult, and makes the missing that much more intense. Right after Rachel died, my husband and I would talk about Rachel, but my son didn't want us mentioning her name, it hurt too much. We did however include her in our holidays, for Thanksgiving, I left a place empty at the table for her. Donations were made in her name to a local soup kitchen, it helped me keep her very much a part of my holiday.

    That first thanksgiving was very, very hard for me, Rachel always looked forward to this holiday. She always brought friends over, and I made so much extra food and desserts so her and her friends could take some home. I survived it somehow, and have survived every year since. This will be our 5th Thanksgiving without our Rachel, and it isn't any easier than that first year, but the onions make a great cover for the tears... I too look forward to the holidays with a bittersweet anticipation. I love being with family, I love cooking, but my heart knows that something important is missing.

    nepats, I understand the emptiness, I understand the pain, and I know how hard it is not to be able to scream when I want too, or to talk about my baby girl for fear that someone won't like it.

    I am so glad that you are going to make that call, they are such wonderful people. Most of the people I spoken to who did reach out to the Hospice grief people found them quite helpful, knowledgeable and understanding. You are taking an important step towards healing.

    God Bless You and your family, know that the love never dies, and your Mother is always in your heart. Listen for the gentle whisper, feel that soft touch, and know that she is near.

    Love, Rose Mary xoxox