11/04/2011

Honoring Loss


Last night was the annual Candlelight Memorial service the hospice I volunteer for provides for the families we assist. There's nothing like coming together for the common cause of remembering those we've lost to foster a sense of the sacred and profound, to realize that loss is a common feature we all share, and that we all too often keep locked up and hidden away.

Rick and the kids went with me to the service, where pictures of those who have died were shown, whose names were read, and for whom candles were lit in remembrance. Hospice's whole purpose is to serve those individuals who are dying and their families, so it's not surprising how many candles were lit. Sad, heartbreaking but not surprising.

We hide death and the very real effects that loss has on us; even as television glorifies killing, it denies any lasting effect on the characters who both kill the enemy and lose their comrades to battle. It causes a schism, a disconnect, and it's no wonder we wander around in our society with no clear way through the dark days of loss. We expect things to go on as if nothing had changed. But it does not and should not.

Remembering those we've loved and who've gone on before us is important. Taking comfort in remembrance and honoring of our loved ones provides meaning and connection. On days where I need grace, I wear my maternal grandmother's perfume. Each year, I buy a new bottle of it, and the truth is I wear it most days, as I'm always in need of some extra grace. My other grandmother's cheap little cat figurines are in a curio cabinet in my bathroom, so that I am reminded of her several times each day in a positive way. Monday, I wore a twin set that my paternal grandmother would have worn and a sweater my maternal grandmother would have worn, and I felt wrapped in them all day. Not a bad way to go through a day.

Loss is inevitable and terrifying. Its inevitability should help remind us to make the most of each day, the most of our time with the people we care about. And when we are in the midst of that loss, hopefully we will remember that others are out there going through similar situations and we will reach out and connect with each other.

1 comment:

Me said...

Lovely post Kim. It's good to be reminded of our mortality, helps keeps things in perspective. Ensures I take more time to stroke my daughters head as she passes, or just marvel at my son as he goes about his day. And give thanks for my and their current good health. As morbid as it may seem I like to remind myself that today might be my last day here and to think about what legacy I want to leave. I act with more humility and kindness when I hold that thought consciously.