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Archive for July, 2014

My Mother passed away on 28th June last at the age of 90 years, 8 months, 28 days.  She lived a full and engaged life and even with that knowledge, the loss of such a significant person in once’s life can be difficult.  I have found most of my friends, relatives, neighbours, peers to be kind, considerate, and upfront about acknowledging my loss and what that means.  Nevertheless an odd few (of really close people) have “ignored” the loss even though I have been engaged and away from home (I live about 4 hours from my parents) for extended periods of time as their health declined.  I have tired to be accepting of their decision not to say or acknowledge my loss but sometimes my resolve fails me and I just feel disappointed and let down.  Why is an important death so difficult for some people close to you, to acknowledge?  It only takes “I am sorry for your loss” to make all the difference for the bereaved person.  The six words are not complicated, you would think would roll off the tongue and if uttered, not only does the speaker feel better (and more mature about stepping up to the plate?), but the so important to the bereaved.  I have watched an extremely competent and capable person be immobilized and not able to offer any word(s) of comfort or recognition.  I don’t feel angry but I do feel perplexed and somewhat trivialized.  I don’t need a band or a note in the newspaper but I would like some eye contact, perhaps a hug, maybe a touch on the arm and some meaningful verbal recognition of my loss.  We all live on the same planet and share the same hopes and dreams, so why stand apart?  Why not build a bridge and let the other person know you care for them and what they are feeling at a dramatic junction in the time?  It isn’t rocket science but a basic human need to be recognized from time to time, and to understand that others care for us and our experiences.   I am so sorry for your loss and hope your memories will be will help get you through.

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Strangely perhaps, I am very fond of cemeteries.  I find them usually very well kept, peaceful and serene, especially on a sunny day.   There is actually a lot of life and living going on in a cemetery: squirrels, deer (I am in the country), racoons and rabbits.   Due to the quiet and often mature trees, the song birds go about their bird ways, raising families, searching for food and feeding their young undisturbed and singing all the while.  Their songs are especially engaging in the quiet backdrop of a cemetery.  A cemetery makes for a safe place for the fauna to live and thrive.  In addition, twice now when I have visited a local cemetery with a dear friend (her husband and two children are buried there), there has been a cellist playing under the trees in the shade.  The sounds of his music filled the cemetery and seem to embrace us as we stood at the graves.  The music was natural, peaceful, welcome and definitely not out of place.  I had to stop and ask him between sets if he was playing to/for anyone in particular and he said, “No, I just find peace here and appreciate the acoustics as the music moves amongst the trees and tomb stones.”  We thanked him for sharing.

 

I like to head for the older grave stones, those who may not have had a visitor for perhaps 50, 60 or 100 years or more.  I dislike the thought that they probably have not recently had visitors and feel contented with stopping by to say “Hello.”  There was a time when grave stones included interesting and meaningful tidbits about the person beneath them:  She was a good girl.   He lived a pious life.   She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother and teacher.   He worked hard and now he is at rest.  Dates of death are often recorded in years, months and days.  Some of the stones are imposing, some tall, some ornate and some simple, yet all have been placed by people who loved and cherished their departed.  Our ancestors came from all over:  Scotland, Ireland, Britain, somewhere in Europe.  When a stone is  very old and moss covered, I have taken a plain paper and pencil and done a rubbing so that I can better understand and greet the individual laid to rest.

 

It is not uncommon for some visitors not to want to walk on graves and I understand.  I, however, walk on the graves, not out of disrespect but out of connection, greeting and meeting.  I will read the names aloud so that the names of those long gone will not be lost but float on the breeze. Sometimes I will weed and tidy a grave garden so that the flowers and gifts left behind will continue to flourish and “speak” to the interests of the deceased and to the love of those who left these mementos.  The objects left behind tell us volumes:  a toy car, wind chimes, LED lights, an airplane, figurines, plastic animals, stone angels of all shapes, sizes and positions.  Each lovingly placed and left by those who still think of and care about their departed. 

 

This past weekend we were at cemetery dedication with neighbours whose grandparents, parents and son who committed suicide are laid.  The service was well attended and filled with love, some laughter and warm sunshine.  We were all there to remember, to cherish, to make sure that no one was forgotten.  The preacher reminded us that each head stone represented someone who had gone before but remained in the minds of someone somewhere who loved them well.  

 

I find a lot of peace and serenity in a cemetery.  Each visit is healing even when I do not know the person whose name I am saying.  I do hope when it is my turn to be laid to rest that future generations will visit my grave even if they came for someone else, walk over me as greeting and read my name from my tombstone.

 

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