Monday, July 23, 2007


Life is eternal; and love is immortal;
and death is only a horizon; and a horizon
is nothing save the limit of our sight.
Rossiter Worthington Raymond

The loss of a loved one is an experience so profound that it is sometimes difficult to find words to express just how debilitating it can feel. When you lose someone near and dear to your heart, you are left with a sense of sadness like no other. I remember well the expanse of emotion that left me feeling as though I was riding on a rollercoaster of complete and total heartache. When my son died two years ago from cancer complications I did not believe that I would ever recover from the loss. But I did. There are still moments when I long to hear him call my name, to spin a joke that only he and I shared, and there are even days when I am filled with rage that his young life was stolen from him so early. But I keep going, finally able to dwell in those memories that made our relationship as magnanimous as it was. Finally able to more readily let go of the hurt and suffering that marked the end of his days.

Someone I love dearly lost a family member near and dear to his own heart today. I know his spirit is absolutely broken by the loss because no matter how much we might want to believe we are prepared for that final moment, there truly is no preparation.

It is not an easy task to walk through a time of grief with someone you care about. We imagine that we can be there for our friends and family when they need us—and we want to magically disappear when they need to be alone. But finding appropriate and heartfelt ways to show our support and caring immediately after a painful loss can truly be a difficult thing to do. With my own experience, although I appreciated every gesture and word of kindness, I was too lost in my grief to recognize just how difficult that might have been for some folks to do. As I look back now I would be the first to say that despite the complexity of being supportive and understanding while showing an appropriate amount of reserve and consideration for each individual’s feelings, just the extension of a hand of support and friendship proved to be invaluable.

Minutes after my son died, a family friend hugged me tightly, tears glistening in her eyes. “You can only imagine what a wondrous moment your son has just experienced,” she said. “He has just seen the face of God for the very first time!” It was that simple statement that kept me upright and standing.

My dear friend’s family member was a virtuous woman, a loving wife, mother, and supportive friend. She was a woman who did not hesitate to put the needs of others before her own, giving freely of herself without thought or reservation. She lived and breathed her spirituality, expounding love and goodness in every aspect of her daily life. She was an angel here on earth and now she wears those wings of glory bestowed only on those who have lived and loved well, sacrificing much so that others could have. A force to be reckoned with, I imagine that when she and God finally came face to face for the very first time that it was truly a wondrous moment to behold, God marveling at the woman he had finally called home. Her family will find much solace in the many memories of their mother and the knowledge that there were many lives and hearts she touched over the years. Her love shines brightly on us all. Mrs. Hattie Woody wouldn’t have it any other way.

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