This past week I attended a memorial service for a wonderful man. I’d never met him but it was clear from what his family shared that he impacted their lives greatly. He was honorable and steadfast. Loving and committed. He lived his life as an example and each touching story illustrated his character perfectly. He was a man who will be emulated and remembered.
As I said, I’d never me the gentleman myself and yet I found myself in tears during the ceremony. I felt such empathy for the family. Also welling up in those tears were thoughts of my own dad. As snowbirds for a number of years, my folks would start talking about their fall trip to Arizona about this time of year. Plus, the football season has started – a shared passion for both my dad and I. Being reminded of someone you love is ultimately a good thing even though it is also a reminder of his or her absence.
There was a time in my life that I wouldn’t attend baby showers. Joyous celebrations for most but painful reminders when you’ve failed one too many infertility treatments. I wanted to be there for the happy expectant mum but I had to give myself permission to say “no.” That was a phase. I’ve since attended many. Still not my favorite festivity yet I’ve won some dandy prizes playing shower games. I probably take those way too seriously but someone must win right? The point is, memorial services are not something any of us want to attend and yet we summon the strength to attend. In my case, I can at least offer empathy. I have walked this path of losing a parent and perhaps you have too. When you join this dreaded club, you hope to provide some sort of comfort to new recruits.
Life offers us many joyous occasions to celebrate and others we wish we could avoid. Someday you will find yourself attending a memorial for someone you've never met. It will tug at your heart strings and stir up feelings for someone you have lost. That's okay. You can remember them fondly, shed a tear or two, and be present for the ones who need you today.