Before I begin today I would like to share with you two verses
The first one is from the Christian Bible,
The Book of Revelation 21:4
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
The second is from the Jewish Scriptures
The Book of Psalms 34:18
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
I chose them for today because I think it is a good reminder for all of us to know that God is close to us when we mourn and God is here to help us and even wipes away our tears.
On behalf of all the Chaplains that are here today I would like to say to all of you, thank you. Thank you for sharing with us your loved ones. It is truly our honor to be here, and we cannot thank you enough for allowing us to share this memorial moment with you.
There are two times in every person’s life when an abundance of love is being shown and shared and it is all centered on them. The first time is at a birth. From the moment their impending arrival is announced the excitement starts to build. On that big day when the baby arrives, everyone gathers around and oohs and ahhhs. Pictures are being taken with siblings and other family members. Everyone takes turns holding the new arrival. The baby’s birth sets in motion a new beginning. This new beginning means there is a different way of doing things and adjustments have to be made. This is a moment full of love.
The other time there is an abundance of love is when we say good bye to a family member. In that time, the family gathers once again. Distant relatives come around. Friends join us in the room. Everyone is happy to see whose there. Memories are being shared. Tears mingle with joy. These are tears of sadness and anxiety. Our lives are about to change and adjustments will need to be made. A new way of living will need to be learned. This isn’t a moment we anticipated, planned for— or invited. Even if we have a family member in Hospice we are not prepared for the final day. But then again nothing can ever prepare us to say goodbye to someone we love.
Love is once again what is experienced and love is what we Chaplains see as your family and friends gather around. As the rooms fill and there aren’t enough seats. As we try to weave our way around the room we can feel the warmth of your families love.
We are privileged to be able to spend these last few precious moments with you and your loved one. This time sadly your love is bringing with it grief. In fact, it is your love for those who are passing that brings about such deep sorrow and grief. We’ve all experienced a loss so we understand how overwhelming the feelings are and how desperately our minds try to sort it out and find a balance. Sometimes we get mixed messages.
It is popular in our culture today to think of grief as something we get over. That we have 5 easy stages to go through and then we are done. But this isn’t my experience with grief. And so when I am in the room with my patients and their families, I like to tell them this:
Be patient with yourself and be patient with grief. We grieve our loved ones, because we have loved them so much. That is why grief is a shock — we weren’t done loving them. Death took them way before we were ready for them to be taken. I’m asked a lot how long do I think grief will last and my answer is always the same: how long will you love them. If it is your intention to always love them, then grief will remain. But I don’t want you to think that is a bad thing because it isn’t. The grief we feel is the reminder of our love.
So learn to welcome grief, learn how to embrace and be friends with grief. So on the days when a memory comes around, and you feel a tug on your heart, you can rest in the knowledge that it is the love for them that remains. Feel safe in that space and hold onto the moment. Allow the memory to fill you. Tears and joy will once again be mingled. If we learn how to embrace grief and look at it through the lens of love, then we won’t be in a hurry to wish it away. Grief will then be our reminder that we still love them. And looking at grief through the lens of love brings us peace. That, to me, is a lot better than trying to resolve it in stages.
I have a little snippet from a Book called: No Matter What, and it is written by Debi Gliori and I think it sums up perfectly and brings a good end to what I’ve been saying:
Small said: “But what about when you’re dead and gone? Would you love me then? Does love go on?
Large held Small snug as they looked out at the night, at the moon, in the dark, and the stars shining bright and says: “Small look at the stars-how they shine and glow. Yet some of those stars died a long time ago. Still they shine in the evening skies….love, like starlight, never dies”.