It’s been exactly a year since we got The Call. In some ways, it seems like forever ago, in others, I can’t believe it has been a full 12 months. In the space of that year, I’ve watched the family transform: allowing memories to fill in spaces where a body sat, speaking freely of personality traits or quotes, choosing to celebrate a Christmas gift one last time without him.
“This may very well be the best lasagna I’ve ever had.” (or cookies, or baked potato, or ice cream, or anything really!) I can often be caught quoting that at the dinner table. So much so that my children laugh and tell me that I say it more than their grandfather did. Maybe so, but I will say it anyway. Their memories of him are different than mine, but I want to give them the opportunity to laugh at his antics so that they will remember more.
Something I’ve observed about families who have lost someone is that it never goes away. I’ve found that even years later, decades later, when they say a name, voices catch. That people are sometimes hesitant to bring up those that are gone to those that didn’t know them. I recently stood in the kitchen of a friend to who, explaining a photo on her wall, had to tell a newcomer that her teenage son had passed a few years ago. Awkward? Yes! But there is no way she is taking that picture down and anyone that walks through her kitchen needs to know that part of her story.
Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to mention someone because you don’t want to make someone else uncomfortable. Don’t be afraid to keep memories alive. Don’t be afraid to mourn. Grief is wishing something was different, better or more. Grief doesn’t end. Because even when we’ve healed from the heart-wrenching pain of losing someone, we always wish something was different, better or more.
That doesn’t mean we have to sit there in that pit. Psalm 30:11 tells us that God turns our mourning into dancing. I believe it is true. I believe we reach a place in our grief where we can celebrate what we did have in the life of a loved one rather than always thinking of what we didn’t. We have to choose. Choose gratitude and celebration.
That’s what I want my funeral to be: a celebration!
“Some day you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”
Now THAT’S perspective!