My grandmother passed away recently, and the service was a celebration of her life. Here are some of my observations over the course of the liturgy.
Aligned with purpose, one creates marvelous things.
Most could hardly believe at how big the family has grown! 9 kids, 27 grandkids & spouses, 20+ great-grandkids, and 2 great-great-grandkids, and counting. Not to mention, all those adoptees Grandma instantly recognized as part of God’s family, and thus served them as her own. She may have considered it her life purpose to be friendly. You were never a stranger for long.
Laughter relieves pain.
We had a good many laughs at memories. She was thrifty, quirky and made her wishes known! Recently, her instructions – often repeated – were to make sure her body was placed on top of the right plot (above my Grandpa). The thought of spending eternity over the wrong dead guy was more than her old Catholic mind could bear.
You can’t take it with you.
A person can collect a lot of stuff in 92 years! After the services, some of the kids and grandkids went over to her house to select mementos. Each and every person remarked at how strange it felt, as if we were shopping for souvenirs. In her wisdom, Grandma wrote names on a few things, and each time someone would see this, helped ease their discomfort. She would’ve loved to see her treasures making us smile and giving us pleasure in our own homes.
There’s divine intelligence in surrender.
During a period of mourning, people give themselves more permission to feel their feelings. Tears flow more freely. Laughs sound fuller. Hugs are tighter. Kindness is everywhere.
The masks come down with an atypical freedom of expression all over the place; “I love you” being voiced more than on just any typical day. Many, visibly uncomfortable with viewing a body up close, choose to do it anyway. Love triumphs over fear.
The surrender of including it all, not making anyone wrong, and allowing each person’s truth is some of the greatest grace I’ve witnessed.
With loss comes greater awareness of what you have.
Even with knowing her time was coming, there were moments of overwhelming sadness at the loss of the great matriarch of our family. Rather than any specific actions or behaviors, I thought of the kindness of her being, her voice, the warmth of her embrace. At times, I was filled with gratitude for having known her and for the gift of being alive.
We all experience death; it’s part of life’s beauty.
Life is a gift. A desire to instill this message in our kids, shapes how we talk to them about death. It all boils down to this: you are worthy. What is life worth to you?
If you found out that your time was up 10 years from now, what would you do? 5 years? 1?
Why wait for the phone call, the diagnosis, or the crisis? Befriend a sense of fulfillment every single day, and you too have lived on purpose. And that is what I call a legacy. ♥