The New Year brings all the hope for future personal and professional success, but with it brings the reality that our loved ones will not be in our physical future. Please take the time to acknowledge and empathize with those whose grief might be unbearable.
As the world celebrates 2016, many might be feeling isolated by the pain of their losses. It’s the anticipation of all the coming seasons and holidays and milestones that can be overwhelming. Coupled with the world wide magnitude of the New Year festivities and all the resolutions, grief may be even crippling for some.
Sometimes the best medicine for this monumental ache is to ease into the New Year without all the grand celebrations. Take the time to connect with someone, you feel close to, who has recently suffered a loss. If your New Year’s plans can be more simply planed, to include a quiet dinner and a movie, this could serve to ease into the reality of the absence.
Feedback from my husband clearly illustrates why the Celebrant option needs to be offered to families. I’ll preface this with he is just another insurance professional building relationships while making business connections.
Rich, like everyone out in the work force, has lost valuable and beloved men and women, but he finally looked straight at me and said ” I’ve recently been to two funerals and have come away from the services feeling empty and depressed that I was not able connect with who they were, as the individuals I knew.”
Then, it occurred to me that even though one or both decedents might have had beautiful church services, what does that offer attendees who are not only from other faiths or non practicing in any faith, but what does the beautiful religious service do to celebrate the specific personality and milestones of the individual?
Rich wanted to hear the stories that would have, if just for the moment, brought his colleagues back to life in the hearts and minds of everyone in attendance…so I told him I also officiate memorial services…and he was able to breathe a sigh of relief.
What do we say to a man who has just buried his wife of several years? many of us will actively attend the initial funeral services, prior visitations, and followup bereavement gatherings to drop off food. What do we offer this family man who has surrounded himself with her world, and built a family future with a woman he was supposed to grow into silver adulthood with? Sure, they must have a thriving network of family and friends and colleagues; but everyone else seems to fade into the landscape, weeks or months down the lonely road. Perhaps the inner network I have just described needs their own active engagement from the outside world, as well?
The truth is many of us avoid the uncomfortable connections that cause us to interact with the grief stricken. If we keep in mind that often our own expectations for checking in with this man may be heavier than what he might anticipate, we can begin to understand that this grieving individual is not looking for our hand to fix the loss. He, like many others in his boat, just desire a silent presence and some companionship to fill the void lost in the absence of his wife. Easier still, just offer to run a simple errand that now feels like a road trip to someone grieving. Dropping off a bowl of fresh fruit or a casserole will feed the close family and friends who visit, and might also benefit from the small comfort of healthy nourishment.
On July 6th, I awoke with all the joy and bubbling hope many mothers embrace at knowing their daughter celebrates a birthday; while I knew, the isolated agony many others may have felt on that beautiful summer day.
One such mother, lost her sweet young daughter in the July 4th Oyster Bay boating tragedy; just three years ago. July 6th would have been her (11th or 12th?) birthday. I will continue to pray for the emotional well being and continued personal courage of this devastated mother; today and for as long as she continues to walk the Earth.
These women (and men) of departed children are still mothers and fathers, and deserve to maintain their parenthood identities. In a word, validation, merely the simple act of acknowledging their son or daughter existed in human form. Tears my be shed in the heartfelt mention of his or her name, and the reference to anything that brings back the essence of their previous human interactions. Make no mistake about it, unless grieving parents specifically request not to be reminded of their children, your simple gesture can have far reaching implications in their grief management and self esteem.
When the voice of a child is silenced forever, I can offer no greater support than a listening ear. Everyone has a story and everyone deserves to be remembered for their unique living footprint. There are no fitting words to offer the family of a young child; a daughter whose whole life should have been ahead of her. Please keep the Pastore family in your thoughts and active deeds, as you enjoy the summer, and remember to reach out to them in the coming seasons. Marissa’s family will need even more support as time moves on. Every holiday and milestone that Marissa would have celebrated will be filled with a range of emotions they will not be able to predict.
This blog, like most, is a work in progress. I’m pleasantly surprised the photo, I took on the way back from our local high School’s more scenic route, actually uploaded so seamlessly into this post. Of course, I’m not only backlogged, with so much I’ve already written; I’m obviously two days late for the July 4th post that I intended to craft.
Well, for those of you who don’t know me, other than an emergency or a funeral or memorial service, I am commonly running behind schedule; my husband says I’m allover the place…yep…no ADD here…just willing distraction in mindful sounds of birds chirping outside…pure Heaven!
To briefly reflect on the American holiday tradition, deeply rooted in the blood and tears shed by our forefathers, I will highlight a meaningful discussion I very recently had with an individual. This gentleman connects with the patchwork of the tradition; in a way that also highlights why Celebrant services are so uniquely human and meaningful.
I am referring to Jack Kovic of Ron Kovic Fame. Ron’s personal memoir, Born on the 4th of July, also a blockbuster movie, featuring Tom Cruise. During our conversation, Jack, also the youngest sibling in the Kovic clan, actually referred to himself as the lesser shining asteroid of the Ron Kovic Star that exists in the universe. Jack humbly went on to describe a lifetime of experiences and contributions that would take up pages of space. I was blown away by the magnitude and diversity of his recollections; the least of which was how we even had the opportunity to connect over the phone.
I can assure you that the situation that prompted our telephone engagement, was notably the least impressive, but the most meaningful to me.
We are each brilliant beacons of human design, with unique opportunities and limited time on Earth to connect to and transform the lives of our neighbors, and we are all neighbors.
We are all connected…
The Civil Celebrant movement originated in New Zealand and Australia, and there is so much published to read about online. The UK and Canada widely use Celebrants, and here in the USA, the movement is growing, and popularity varies throughout. Fellow Celebrants are on the cutting edge of a movement, in the New York area. We are beginning to see a surge in grieving families who specifically ask not to have clergy officiated funerals. Many articles, floating around about the Baby Boomers, feature their desire for the Celebrant option.
Many funeral homes have working relationships with Funeral Celebrants, but commonly families will seek out their own Celebrant. I am frequently called by funeral homes, and referred by families of previous services I have officiated. Google searches have brought me to grieving families, as well.