Show me the manner in which a nation or community cares for its dead
and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender sympathies of its people,
their respect for the law of the land and their loyalty to high ideals. -Gladstone
People who deal with death every day, professional caregivers such as palliative care, grief counsellors, clergy and medical practitioners have long understood the importance of remembrance. It is an established principle that helps heal, so we can go on living our lives in meaningful ways.
In the short video below, Martha C. talks about the solace she and her family find in slowing down and having the opportunity to cherish the memories of her husband, and about the surprising “best Christmas gift“ they received because of a cemetery visit.
Funeral and cremation services remembrance rituals are not only ways to say goodbye to a loved one, but are also time-tested ways that can help families and friends move from grieving to remembrance. Also, permanent remembrances further provide a place and a way for families to remember and honor their loved ones forever.
There are many reasons to celebrate and mourn the life of a loved one, but for many, these six things sum up why remembrance is important:
- To acknowledge the reality of death.
- To acknowledge the emotions associated with the death.
- To acknowledge that the relationship with the person who died has shifted from physical presence to memory.
- To acknowledge changes in personal self-identity.
- To ponder and search for new meaning in life.
- To receive the loving support of remaining family and friends.
Sadness at the loss of a loved one may never entirely go away, but remembrance lives on.
The desire to be remembered lives within our genetic makeup. It is the age-old reason people carve their initials in trees, place their hands in cement, and chalk their names on rocks. They want to leave their mark. They want to be remembered. But for the living, the real marks they leave are the ones they’ve left on us. A hug. A smile. A timely word of advice. We want to remember those we’ve loved and lost, not only for them, but also as importantly for ourselves, to mend, to heal, to live, and never to forget.
In the video below, Betty K. discusses the lessons she has learned throughout her career helping families deal with grief.
Two poems, one by a writer of this century and another from another era, try to express in words about life, and dying, and remembering.
We talk openly of life.
Of the joyful times we had.
And the joyful times we will have together.
Death gives no joy.
It has no voice.
We have muted it because there are no more
times to have together.
While the remembrance of death is painful,
the remembrance of those who lived,
those we loved, is joyous.
They have left footprints implanted in our minds,
in our hearts, and in the very essence of our being
that shall remain forever.
Death is sad.
Remembrance is not.
So let us remember their lives.
I Am Standing Upon The Seashore
I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze
and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white
cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!”
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast
and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just
as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment
when someone at my side says: “There, she is gone!”
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready
to take up the glad shout: “Here she comes!”
And that is dying.
-Henry Van Dyke