Season of life & lessons of grief
“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.” Irish headstone
The preciousness of life is often not revealed until death awakens us. The death of winter and the absence of fog is felt sorely as the temperatures soar into triple digits with the start of summer. The death of the body and the absence of our loved one’s physical presence is also felt sorely as we approach a funeral.
Having just experienced the solstice and the funeral of a friend, I’m reminded of Pete Seeger’s song “Turn, Turn Turn” based on verses from Ecclesiastes in the bible.
To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep
A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late
The official kick off of summer began with the longest day of the year on June 21. As the solstice approached, the sun appeared to stand still in the sky. When news of the death of a loved one arrives, there is this desire that the world stand still as you attempt to regain your bearings.
Thousands gathered at Stone Hedge on the morning of summer solstice because it’s believed that the ancient site was built to celebrate this celestial event. Heel stone and cap stone are aligned with the monument’s entrance and oriented in the direction of the sunrise and sunset, yet the true purpose of this structure remains a mystery.
Hundreds gathered to celebrate the life of Tyler feeling his final sunset had come too early. Mourners speculated the mystery of deaths timing wondering if he had fulfilled his purpose here yet.
Life’s lessons include those taught by grief. Like crashing waves, it leaves you gasping for breath, but then the sobs subside and the realization that you haven’t drowned helps the breathing return to normal.
Once tears are wiped away, the uncertainty remains about when the next wave will tumble into emotional turbulence again.
News of death seems to swallow you whole. If denied expression, it may gush out unexpectedly like flash floods. Surrender to the tears and they rage in strong torrents, but end quickly and like sunshine emerging after the rain, sweet memories filter back in.
Gathering pictures, sharing stories, notifying friends, all of it was hard because while his sweet essence still lingers, he will no longer knock on the door and wrap his arms around me in a big bear hug.
I watched my friend leave the mortuary with an urn containing her son’s ashes cradled in her arms. She must have held him in a similar fashion the day she carried him home from the hospital and yet her face told an irreparably different story this time.
When the seasons follow the traditional patterns, death, though hard, is easier to accept. When one so young is taken so soon, there is this desire to rail against the fates.
While the solstice marked the beginning of summer and Tyler’s funeral marked the end of his earthly life, we’re reminded of the seasons. May we celebrate the preciousness of each day for it is not ours to decide if we shall wake upon the morrow. Enjoy the gift of your life in whatever season you’re experiencing now, for the winter of your life is not a guarantee.
“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” Kahlil Gibran.
Kristi McCracken, author of two children’s books and a long time teacher in the South Valley, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.