Celebrating Life as a Response to Death
Today am I keenly aware of death.
Rev. Jackie Allen, my former practitioner teacher made her transition this week. Three years ago today, my father passed away. Last month I attended an out of state memorial service for my high school friend’s husband. Yesterday I dropped a sympathy card in the mail for a friend whose father passed.
As a minister, I have conducted many memorial services and a few funerals. It is one of the reasons I became a minister. There are moments in our lives when people gather together out of love and cheer each other on. Births, birthdays, weddings, graduations, new homes, and deaths.
Death is different than other celebrations as often grief companions us through the process. Our hearts are broken. We are at choice to allow our heart to break open, or to close it and try to protect ourselves from any future pain. The courageous route is to be broken open and to allow vulnerability to rise within us. The death of a loved one can birth within us a renewed commitment to living.
How do we embrace grief and honor a loved one? We tell stories. Let me tell you about Jackie. She was a woman of faith who actively courted Spirit. While the two of us walked the keen green lawn of Seabeck camp grounds one warm summer morning with the trees standing in attention, Jackie told me she set a place setting at her dinner table for Spirit. This practice reminded her of the ever present God which is always with us. The feeling of awe immediately transports me back to that moment. The beauty combined with humility was quite delicious.
Another way we honor a loved one is to decide to carry on one of their traits we admired. When my father died, I decided to become more generous. My father was generous to a fault. He coached local ball teams, he hosted foreign exchange students, he bought or gave whenever asked. His wife said she’d have to turn off the phone ringer when he was home as his response to anyone calling for a donation was a “yes.” They had an entire cupboard of unused light bulbs he’d purchased from an organization my sister and I finally donated after his passing. Since dad’s death I have actively discovered ways I could give more of myself.
Lastly, we can create art or beauty inspired by our beloved. My Seattle home had a rose garden planted in honor of grandmother and grandfather. Today I have a hibiscus garden planted for my father, a reminder of the time we spent together in Hawaii. In the midst of the garden is a carved stone gifted to me by sister.
Death is ever present as part of our Life path.
With humility and love,