Our mother’s celebration of life was held on Jan. 11, one month after she passed away, and except for the days immediately following her death, it was the most emotionally draining time my brother and I have ever experienced.
It was also incredibly healing.
We cried and we laughed, we shared stories and we expressed regrets. But in the end, we felt the love — for her and for us.
It’s been said that funerals are for the living and not for the dead.
To me, it feels like they exist for both.
The honouring of a person’s life is important, whether it’s a formal public gathering or an informal private farewell.
The opportunity for friends and family to say their goodbyes and attain some kind of closure seems necessary to most of us.
But a public funeral isn’t reserved just for people who knew the deceased.
There were people at our mom’s service who had never met her before, but were there to support us. That felt amazing.
The subject of death scares many people away, though, so some keep their distance.
And a lot of people have no idea what to say, so they might say nothing, at all.
I understand these feelings completely. When I was in my early 20s, before I had ever lost a loved one, the subject of death was terrifying to me, as was saying the wrong thing.
But there’s obviously no way to avoid it.
We all eventually die, and unless we die young, we all experience losing people we love.
I think the reason some of us stress out about what to say is because we can’t think of anything that doesn’t sound cliché, or we can’t think of anything that could alleviate the sorrow.
From my own personal experience, just a simple “I’m sorry for your loss” feels supportive.
It’s not necessarily the words that are comforting, but the acknowledgment.
I’m certainly no expert on grieving or death, and I have no idea what’s around the corner for me emotionally in regards to my mother’s passing.
All I know is that loss is a part of life, and I just have to feel the feelings as they come and live as fully and fearlessly as I can.
Some days, I’ll be able to, and some days I won’t.
Many years ago, our mother told me that dragonflies symbolized new beginnings. I don’t know if that was a common belief she had heard, or just a personal one that she felt, but whichever it was, I’ve loved dragonflies and thought of them in that way ever since.
Her passing has been extremely difficult, but I recognize that her departure is a new beginning for us.
The woman who gave us life no longer exists physically in the world as we know it, but her love will live within our hearts, and it will grow if we nurture it.
Every time I see the image of a dragonfly — which will be often since I have several — I will be reminded of our beautiful mother’s love, and the fun, happy lives she wanted us to live.
She would have wanted us to fly, and we will.