Celebration of Life

My grandfather died this week. I have experienced the loss of several loved ones throughout my life; I should be able to accept death. The truth is that every loss is different because each person was different and played a different role in my life. What never changes is the immediate transition into grief the moment I hear the news that my loved one has left this world. I have always struggled with the concept of grief, mainly because the grief I feel is more for me than for my loved one, which makes me seem selfish. I am truly blessed to have faith in the Lord that provides me with the peace of knowing he or she is in heaven with our heavenly Father. From that perspective, grief has no place in my emotions; my loved ones are at peace and their sufferings and pain have been taken away forever.

I grieve because I am still in my earthly body without the love of the person I lost to help me deal with worldly trials. I grieve because I mourn the loss of a companion I had grown up believing would never leave me. I remember being a child surrounded by family. This family was the cornerstone of my life, and I could not imagine a world without it. As a child I did not understand the concept of death. Somehow I never outgrew this misperception, and when I began to experience the deaths of my family members and other loved ones, the stability of my life was shattered. The hardest image I find myself needing to alter is that of my wedding. It started in a church filled to bursting with family, and with each loss, I need to change the vision of my wedding day and the church becomes less full with more empty spaces. My grandfather was the hardest person to remove from that image. I believed he would be around to see me married and to have his great-grandchildren.

At one time in my life I would be angry with the Lord each time my family diminished. I did not understand how He could take away the people who made my life what it was. The truth is that I cannot build my life on those of others. The only person I can rely on to always be a part of it is Jesus Christ. Due to the COVid-19 pandemic, my family was not able to be with my grandfather when he died. This might sound tragic, but the only person who needed to be with him was there. I have complete faith that Jesus was at my grandfather’s bedside when he died, ushering him into heaven. In fact, I believe his hospital room was packed with a host of angels, saints and other family members ready to accompany my grandfather on his journey to his new home in heaven.
Every time I face death again I do feel the fear of being alone, but then a soft voice whispers, “I am here.” We are all human and we will all die, which means we cannot count on each other always being around us, at least, not physically. The one person we can count on is the Lord. I am thankful for this because He is the only being worthy of complete trust, and I know He is the only one I need.

Keeping this in mind, I no longer grieve for my departed loved ones, but rather celebrate their lives. My grandfather’s life was definitely worth celebrating. The day he died, my brain raced through all the beautiful memories I shared with him. They are so precious and even though I wept as I remembered them, my tears were from joy because the memories are such treasures. My grandfather’s life was a gift from God, which I will carry the rest of my life. My grandfather will indeed be with me the rest of my life. He lives on in my heart, and the hearts of the many people he touched.

3 thoughts on “Celebration of Life

  1. One of the great blessings after a loved one dies is sharing favorite memories of that person with other family members and friends. An unexpected blessing occurs when someone unknown to you shares memories of your loved one and how his or her life was enriched by that person. To know how appreciated, valued, trusted your grandpa was by others–those he worked with and those he worked for, as well as everyone he met in his travels and in his daily routine–must be a source of comfort and strength as you continue your journey through this “vale of tears.” Your faith assures you of a wonderful reunion in heaven after your work here is done and you will join all your loved ones in a heavenly chorus of joy.

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  2. I really needed to hear this, because it’s something I’ve struggled with myself. As an only child, I have feared the day when one or both of my parents depart from this life. I feel like no one on Earth will know me as completely as they did. However, your post reminded me of our Heavenly Father’s love for me, and how He is the only one who knows me completely. As hard as it is to accept, I cannot always count on my parents to be physically here for me, despite how much they will try. God is not limited my time or space. As Christians, He is united with our very core, our souls. As Catholics, we enter into deeper communion with Him. Thanks for sharing this post. Your faith that you share in the midst of grief is such a gift that is surely encouraging others. The Lord surrounds your grandfather now, the same God who is in your soul always. Nothing can separate you from His love. God Bless and thank you!!

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  3. Grieving is mysterious given that our physical death is the doorway to our re-entry into the Eden relationship between us and our Creator. The “modern” consensus on how to believe in God, if one believes at all is that we do indeed need a Creator to become us. After that, we don’t need Him much, perhaps just during times of crisis. Yet, He says we need Him all of the time, every second of our life; His creation of us being just the first step in that intimate, lifelong, eternity-long family affair. So, what the heck is grieving? How can it enter the picture? Why should we suffer it at all? Thank you and the Holy Spirit for helping us gain a better understanding of why grief pops up when it does, why if can grab and bind us, and best of all how we may acknowledge it and move on. Viva la famille!

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