After Death Details, Part I: Grief

Betty and Rich During the Second World War


It has been a week since my husband’s mother died. We miss her, though we are glad she is not in the extreme discomfort that she experienced at the end. We’ve laughed and we’ve cried, more of the former, because she lived a long and rich life. Saying goodbye takes time.

Photograph albums have given us an opportunity to think about family stories and remember our own experiences. One favorite old photo. snapped during World War II, features Mother and Father in one of those old photo booths, heads together, both giggling. We also have a short movie of their wedding in 1942 showing the exuberant bride and groom just before and right after their wedding. We’ve transferred this movie to a DVD. It is strange to look at the movie and think about these two people growing older and older and ultimately dying. Perhaps I am really thinking about myself.

My husband excitedly explored a postcard collection with pictures going back to the Second World War, when his parents traveled all over the country so that his dad, an engineer, could take advanced courses on airplane engines. Pictures include the desert and Grand Canyon in Arizona, Pikes Peak in Colorado, historic sites in Boston, and a number of grand old hotels in New York City. How much they loved to travel!

We are planning two memorial services, one here in this area where she lived for about two years and another in South Carolina where she lived for nearly 20.  As we’ve looked over her Bible and some poetry books, we found bookmarks, a light pink handkerchief, and even a few old price tags marking favorite passages.  We knew of her two favorite Psalms, and we have learned of a few poems she loved.  The handkerchief was marking the passage in Ecclesiastes (3:1-8 “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven…”). The memorial services will include some of these passages, I think.

Dealing and making peace with grief seems to be a tricky business.  Hospice, at least our hospice, offers bereavement counseling for six months following the death of a loved one.

Links for Bereavement or Grief Counseling

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