Not long ago, I had a powerful conversation with the husband of one of the patients of BJC Hospice. The gentleman's wife was going to soon die. He had been preparing for death for some time and had made arrangements for his wife's physical care and had even made funeral arrangements. The children had gathered; goodbyes were said.
Now, the man had time to remember. When I encountered this man in some sacred space, he spoke about the couple's life together, how they met, the raising of children, and the enjoyment of their retirement years. There were no words of resentment; no expressions of having been cheated. No doubt, there once had been anger, but the man and woman had moved to a different space. They had worked through those feelings to view their time together as something precious.
In the year of her illness, the man and woman talked . . . and talked . . . and talked some more. They reviewed their lives. They went on short trips and enjoyed whatever moments they could. They laughed at funny stories. They spoke again about the difficult times. They talked about their dreams and concerns for their children and grandchildren. They talked about her death and about his future alone. The talking turned to tears as the couple came face-to-face with the incredible loss they were experiencing.
With glassy eyes, the man told me all of this. And then he said, "In my faith, when we remember, our loved ones live on."
Remembering. There is power in remembering. By telling stories; by gazing at old photographs; by using old recipes; by wearing old jewelry, we keep our loved ones alive in our hearts.
Who do you remember? What stories have not been told for a while? What do you learn from them. What do you feel when you remember? What must you still sort through?
During all seasons of family gatherings, take time to remember the life of your loved ones. In doing so, you keep them and (I would argue) you alive.
May you walk in the sacred space of remembering.
Disclaimer: The information on this page was compiled by Susan Palmquist, BJC chaplain. This material provides general information only. It should not be used in place of the advice, instructions, or treatment given by your doctor or other health care professional.