Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Year Later ~ A Remembrance Service

Today while I was shopping for flowers, someone I didn't know asked me if I had attended any of the commemorative services held at the local cemeteries this past weekend.  At first, I was quite taken back by the question, not because the woman wasn't being friendly, but because I had held a memorial service for my own daughter on Saturday, May 28th.  Instead of telling this kind woman that I had made two trips to the cemetery in the past week, one for a service and then a return trip to actually bury my daughter's ashes, I just said, "No, I didn't attend any of the public services."

A year ago when Julie died, a number of factors prevented us from actually holding a burial service.  We decided that we would hold a service a year later in Colorado Springs where she would be buried.

It has been a very difficult time for me over the past few weeks as I have questioned my wisdom about waiting a year to actually commit my daughter's earthly remains back to the earth.  I have been torn to pieces inside as I sometimes felt I was reopening a wound that had just begun to heal.  Despite these feelings, fears, and questions, deep in my spirit, I knew it was time for me to take her urn out of my study where it had been for a year, gather loved ones around me, and place her remains in the earth.

Thursday of last week, my oldest daughter and her daughter flew into Denver from Utah.  The next day, my oldest son and his daughter flew in from Utah.  My youngest son was unable to come from the Boston area.  We gathered, surrounded by close friends and family members, at the cemetery on Saturday afternoon to remember our dear beloved Julie and to try to bring another measure of healing into our lives.
My son Ryan 

My daughter Keicha

It was a beautiful, touching service that only lasted about 30 minutes.  We had a box near the grave site where those who wished to do so could leave a letter to Julie.  These letters were then buried with her urn.  We listened to a few remembrances of a beautiful, dearly loved woman who left us too soon and in a way that broke our hearts.  We were blessed to have a few words of scripture read to us by a kind and compassionate pastor.  Our hearts were then deeply touched by the words sung by Sarah Woods in the song which she wrote when she was only fourteen years old entitled "Little Red Balloon."  We then held a balloon release.

My granddaughter Hannah

Sarah Wood singing, "My Little Red Balloon"

After the service, we all gathered for lunch at my niece's home in Colorado Springs.

My niece Cristy

Another milestone has been reached by my family.  Each of us has been on an individual journey, but the time we had together this weekend was precious.   We  have been greatly blessed by such supportive friends and family.  I am strengthened and encouraged by those who have stood beside me and my family this past year.

Now that this past weekend is behind me, I'm glad we chose to have this simple service.  Grief is a process.  We are all at a different place than we were a year ago.  We are no longer numb with shock and disbelief.  Yes, it was painful to go through this past weekend, but it was also very healing in some ways.

Release is an important step that I had to take in my journey toward healing.  As I placed my darling daughter's earthly remains in the earth, I was reminded that we all subjected to the law of ashes to ashes,  dust to dust.  I am also able to lift my eyes to heaven and continue to believe that she is now, and always has been, in the hands of a loving God.


  1. I sincerely hope you find the remainder of your journey a bit easier. Sometimes these rituals help; I hope so.

    The balloon release is a perfect symbolic activity, I think. I know that was the biggest moment of closure for me with my husband's death.

    Peace to your heart, RET.

  2. Oh How beautiful, Sally... Made me cry.. What a wonderful service for such a vivacious young woman. Miss Julie was sitting on her pink cloud smiling down on all of you --as she collected all of her balloons....

    Closure is important---and maybe you all (all of you) needed a year to grieve in your own ways before coming together for a celebration of her life ---not her death! Seems as if you did just exactly that. God Be with you ---all of you.


  3. It has been an honor to witness your journey this past year. What a lovely memorial service!

  4. What a beautiful memorial you had for Julie! I could see and feel the love you all brought to this important ritual. The letters, the song, the balloon release -- all so meaningful and healing.

  5. Perhaps the timing was perfect like Betsy said.
    It was a beautiful day, your family was near, and I think the letter idea was so touching. I hope you can move forward with a maybe little less pain now.
    The unfinished has been completed.

  6. I agree with Linda: it has been an honor to get to know you and share your grief with you as you have traveled from there to here. I love the picture of the balloons heading into heaven...

    Now that you have passed that one-year anniversary, I sincerely hope that I will continue to spend time with you on your blog to learn how you are doing. Thank you for bringing me along.

  7. That last picture was so touching and again so hopeful. Yes I know that she is there held safe by God. Blessings, Joanne

  8. What a lovely service for a lovely soul. I admire your strength and grace. Thank you so much for sharing all this with us.

  9. "Release is an important step." I think those are perfect words, Sally. I've never bonded to "closure" -- seems final on so many different levels and really, is the grieving and loss ever closed? I don't think so. But released, let go, shared, all those things. Beautiful word -- I must remember it.

    Thank you for sharing this special day with us. I loved the letters and I'm glad you did a balloon release -- it looks like a simply gorgeous, healing day. Hugs.

  10. You have been on a journey no one wants to take, but you reveal it to us with such tenderness and compassion. I really feel the gentle touch of your spirit in these posts.

  11. Thank you for sharing. It is helpful to know how others deal with such terrible losses. My son was 27 when the effects of bi-polar took him from us. I suppose we all change as our world has changed. Trying to continue life's journey as best we can. Each and every day with wonderful memories, loss, and those things that now will never be.

  12. Sounds like a beautiful memorial service --and what a lovely day for it. I'm glad you felt ready for that final step and though there is no real 'closure' in the grieving process, this is a step forward...thoughts are with you...

  13. What a beautiful ceremony of remembrance and release. I hope you will find yourself moving foward with new peace and comfort.

  14. Thank you for this. I think the waiting sounds like it was GOd's perfect plan for your family--so you could come together again and share without that numbing grief you had a year ago. Blessings to you today.

  15. I'm crying for your heartbreak, Sally. The service sounds just right and now your healing will continue. Hugs to you.

  16. Thank you for including us in this very personal ceremony. May your spirits soar like the balloons.

  17. Hi Sally,

    Everything looks so lovely and perfect for Julie's ceremony ... even the nice weather.

    God bless you, and thanks for sharing your story with us.

    God bless,

    Kathy M.

  18. I'm so glad you had this healing time with your family, and pray that you continue to find hope and peace in the days and months ahead.

  19. The timing is different for each of us. Good for you for taking the time you needed and recognizing when it was time to take the next step. Thank you for sharing this personal but universal experience. Hugs from afar.

  20. As I have been gone for several weeks, I only just saw this. This was beautiful and sad, I had tears in my eyes as I read it. Thank you for posting the pictures of your lovely family and service. Peace to you and your family.


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