Honoring death and the human fallout of grief is somehow taboo in our culture. It perplexes me that we only celebrate one piece of the experience of life. When trying to reason with it, trying to share my thoughts or feelings with others, or trying to explain my behavior, I am usually treated like radioactive waste. Long pauses of silence, and the changing of subjects are often punctuated with choice phrases; "You're just too attached. You need to just let it go." "I don't want to be a band-aid for you." "Why are you so upset? That was years ago now, right?" "They're dead, who cares?"
These are real quotes taken from my real life. No joke.
So much for front-loading.
Losing my octogenarian Grandfather two years ago was no easier than any of the others I have mourned and laid to rest in the summer months. It was a huge blow to my family. He was the laughing, stubborn, hilariously sarcastic, unyielding glue holding us together. But, in honoring his final two wishes - (1) to have his ashes scattered alongside his beloved wife "Von" and his son Robert (2) for the family to always stay together - we stood as one facing the veil between this world and the next. While it wasn't easy for any of us to revisit this sorrow, it was an important ritual to honor the cycle of life and death, our patriarch, and ourselves.
Grandpa was true to form, even in death, explaining things as simply as possible. The quiet lessons of his last wishes sank in as we stood in a circle on top of a mountain in the San Joaquin Valley Wilderness.
Honor one another.
Love never dies.