Grieving the death of a parent

 In Grief & Loss

Shared as part of a memorial service at Niagara-On-The-Lake, June 17, 2023

Today we gather as a community of mourners, each of us drawn here by a common thread as we seek to remember and honor the life of a person who is special to us.  We are each grieving a loss, we remember how life used to be and we are trying to re build our lives as best as we can.  Some days it’s a challenge, seeking to grieve and to care for ourselves wanting to find healing in the pain of loss.

My own mother died one year ago today and I am grateful for her life and for what she taught me – the importance of community, to always be kind, and to believe in myself.  But I also struggle with her absence – and at times feel lost as I try to adjust to “the new normal” without her.  As you know, when someone you love dies, you can’t go backwards and change the things that you might have wished went differently.  Life as we know it, will never be quite the same again. We ask many questions – why did this happen?  Could we have done more? Been more forgiving, compassionate, aware? And so we move through our grief without necessarily having any answers  – sometimes clumsy, tentative, unsure and sometimes in spite of ourselves.

Someone once described grief as a “journey through the wilderness” meaning that we don’t have a map as we’ve never travelled this way before.  We may feel scared, angry and alone.  Yes, we will have experienced other losses and griefs, but this one is unique because our relationship with our loved one was unique and special.  Our life is changed and we can’t go back – we must move forward, one day at a time.  And so one thing that helps me on this grief journey –  is to try and remain in the present as much as I can – if I think too far ahead I feel anxious.  Each day we take another step forward, maybe some days reluctantly even when we don’t want to, but life for us and those around us, does go on.

Each of us here today will have a different experience – “your grief is as unique as your thumbprint.”  There is no one right way to grieve, to love, to live.  But even though we are different – we are also united by our grief.  I know that others can understand to a degree – what I am feeling because they are too, in their  own way.  Coming together today. –  to share stories, view the pictures of our loved ones, to cry, to laugh, to heal – is important because it helps us.  And so we honour our grieving, our loving and our healing.  This is a sacred path and one that will transform us in ways that are unexpected, perhaps uncomfortable at times and also amazing.  So as we release the beautiful butterflies, symbols of new life and of freedom, may we each receive the gift of hope and transformation.

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