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.