I’ve often wondered why I don’t fear death. My first experience with death was my Grampa Myers…I think I was 8 yrs old…I was there and even though I was told to stay upstairs I snuck down them and peeked. Then there were friends lost overseas. Then Auntie Jo, then my Gram Myers…and then the hardest of all-my Dad. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to carrying guilt over not staying better connected or showing more of an appreciation for what they actually meant to me before it was too late, but there’s nothing I can do about that other than encourage people to reach out to their still living loved ones and express their feelings. It wasn’t until my Dad’s wake that I learned and saw how much he was loved by so many. I’m grateful that despite the pain felt by many over the loss of him, we were capable of celebrating him at the wake and then again at his burial up on the farm. There’s so much more I’d like to share about how these experiences make my heart feel, but I can’t yet…what I can leave you all with is sincere encouragement to stay connected, to offer compassion, forgiveness, grace freely, and to let those you love know you love them. Tomorrow is never guaranteed.
“I was 12 years old when I learned how to die.
The Irish wake is our family’s death ritual. For a moment, our loved one’s place of death becomes a solemn memorial, then quickly transforms into a storyteller’s stage. Tales are shared late into the evening — some true, most embellished. Then comes the singing — songs of remembrance, all sung by heart, of course, because our parents sang them to us, as their parents had to them. By the end, our bellies ache from the deep laughs and one too many helpings of Grandma’s cheesy hotdish, and love fills every corner of that sacred space.”
“…the Irish did get something right: sharing the dying process can help heal those left behind. Bearing witness to death is difficult, especially if your job description includes “healer.” Yet perhaps the health care community can relearn this childlike skill of accompaniment — and, in doing so, we might even find space to heal ourselves.”
Sarah Barker, CEO