The word “death” by itself used to scare me. I did not understand what it meant in its entirety. I associated death with my animals dying, movies that I had cried at and other things I had no tangible connection to. It was scary. No one really talks about death, what comes before, what happens during or what comes after. If we did that, we may be considered morbid. However, death is a very real part of life.
In college, I took a class called, “The Sociology of Death.” It was a trial class to see if people would stick around I think. There were five of us. It was the best class I ever took. I understood the process, the best one can understand I suppose, of death. I learned the ins and outs of the mortuary, the cemetery, the different types of traditions people had at funerals, etc. Then, I had to write my own obituary and give it to my mom. That was rough.
Death did not scare me after that class. Rather, dying did not scare me- death of people around me, especially those I counted on the most, was frightening. The fear was different though. It was a new sensation because I had learned through this class, through research, through hospice, through people who were at the different stages of death, that it is not the deceased who is scared and sad. It is those of us who are left behind.
The day my mom died, I was not afraid for her. I was devastated for me and I was hurting so badly for my family. I knew my mom was not afraid. I knew the second her soul passed through whatever, wherever souls pass through to get where they are going, she was in a blissful state. She was at the place in her life where she was the most beautiful, the happiest, carrying no burdens or fears and she got to be with her dad.
On days when the sun is shining bright over the ocean and there is a cloud at just the right angle, a beam of light will catch my eye and I always know at that particular moment my mom is sitting quietly on a bench with my grandpa. I know they are watching over us carefully. They are laughing wholeheartedly at the things they do not have to put up with anymore ( this I know for sure!) and perhaps sighing with their heads hung a bit when they wish they could reach out a hand and know they can’t quite reach all the way out to give those comforting hugs that saved the day so many times.
Now, when it is my turn to comfort a friend in need, all I have to offer is the bench. I cannot promise that there are places to sleep in heaven. I know there is a great bench with two very warm hearted people who will welcome the new comer with open arms and that bench will grow as needed, and her worries will fade as well.