A woman came to the support gatherings I facilitate after losing her husband of 60 years. They met in high school and were together from then on. After his death, her life was very different and she wanted to reconcile, a word which from its roots means make good again. This woman courageously allowed herself to feel the grief on the way to this reconciliation. At first she was present in the support gatherings and took it all in. We talked about different ways to embrace a new life – my “4-3-2-1-! of Hope, Healing and Wholeness,” www.kochfuneralhome.com. Over time, I could see more light in her spirit. One day she approached me after a meeting and said she had just spent two days experiencing the love she and her husband shared. How could that be? Love is eternal.
C.S. Lewis wrote of a similar experience in his book, A Grief Observed. In this book, Lewis wrote about the death of his wife, whom he referred to as “H.” While feeling the intensity of his grief, Lewis worried that he would lose some of his memories of her. But something “quite unexpected” happened as the grief began to lift: “Suddenly at the very moment when, so far, I mourned H least, I remembered her best. Indeed it was something (almost) better than memory; an instantaneous, unanswerable impression. To say it was like a meeting would be going too far. Yet there was that in it which tempts one to use those words. It was as if the lifting of the sorrow removed a barrier…And the remarkable thing is that since I stopped bothering about it, she seems to meet me everywhere.”
As I companion people on their grief journeys, I continue to hear stories of these “meetings.” A woman who “met” her late husband as she lay in bed at night. A mom who “met” her young son in moments of family gatherings. A child who “met” his mother in a rainbow.
Perhaps “meeting” is too strong a word for you. But how about remembering? Finding comfort, peace and love in remembering. Remembering is so important. It is part of what we need to do to heal and reconcile with the grief - we re-member all of the broken pieces of our lives. We move from a relationship of presence to a relationship of memory with our loved ones and we continue to feel the love.
When I sit with families and hear the stories of their recently deceased loved ones lives to then create personalized services for them, the love in the room is often palpable. In Thornton Wilder’s Bridge of San Luis Rey he wrote, “There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.” Love is eternal.
Sometimes our culture sends the message to forget and move on. Most people I talk to don’t want to forget. They want to continue to feel the love they knew when their loved one was alive. I encourage these people to spend some time with their memories, feel that love and continue to heal. Remembering can become a problem when it is all you do; when you stop living your todays. It can also hurt if you get stuck in painful memories and are unable to find peace. If these things happen, professionals can help.
I invite you to take time to “meet” and remember your loved ones. Share a memory of them with someone else, visit one of their favorite spots, cook their favorite meal.
Please check Koch Funeral Home’s News and Events page for more details and remember, love is eternal.
his article has been adapted and originally appeared in The Centre County Gazette.