When I sit down with a family or the friends of a person who has died, I sit down in a space filled with love, a room where those present have the united purpose of finding a fitting way to celebrate a life. There is sadness, the grief of loss, but in the stories I am told there is also joy and with it gratitude for the life that has been shared.
I have the privilege of getting to know the person through the eyes of those who have loved them. While I only ever get to see a photograph of this loved one, in reality I get to see much more than that. A complete picture forms as the story is shared, bringing forth with it details of the life lived, details of a unique personality, details of a sense of humour, core values and spiritual beliefs.
Last night I conducted a Christmas memorial service, everyone present had lost a loved one this year, each is on a journey, finding their way through their grief and each journey is as unique as those they have lost. Christmas can be a challenging time for those who grieve, it is a time when they feel the loss of their loved ones acutely. It is, therefore, a time to go gently and to be patient with the journey of grieving.
Some wise words from Helen Keller -
What we have once enjoyed we can never lose.
All that we love deeply become part of us.