All Souls Day – Remembering the Dead

NB: This post is a variation on something that I wrote for my parish blog.

On Monday November 2, we remember our beloved deceased on All Souls Day. Let us pray for those who have fallen asleep in the Lord. We wait in joyful hope always, in prayer, in love and in community.

I think of the dead all the time. This does not always make me feel sad, it makes me feel comforted. Now I am not morbidly sitting around obsessed with the dead… No, I rather think of them in the Kingdom, freed from this mortal coil.

My mother had so much physical pain and I like to think of her as free from that. Whenever I see a blue jay I think of my mom and I think it may be her checking in on me! My father had so much emotional turmoil and I imagine that is not the case any longer.

My friends Darlene, Cathy and Suzanne did not know each other in life, but I am certain that they are connected on the other side.  I miss them terribly, but I never forget them.

When Darlene died, I was about 30 and she must have been 28. She was my first close friend to die and I took it terribly. That was almost 22 years ago and I never stop remembering our short but powerful friendship. I still have a collage that she made for me.

Cathy lived way longer than any doctor predicted. She was given a death sentence by her physician at 19. She looked him in the eye and told him that she had a baby daughter and that she had no intention of dying until her daughter graduated from high school. Cathy died at age 53, with her daughter married and settled in life. Cathy taught me so many things that I will never, ever forget.

Suzanne and I had a brief friendship but we grew close quickly. She was on the brink of really living life after a long period of stress when she died suddenly and under mysterious circumstances. The death could not be determined a homicide, but that is one theory. I was in Callistoga, CA when I heard of her death and I can recall exactly how I felt when I got the call and how I spent the rest of what was supposed to be a nice day.  I drank a lot of Red Zinfandel that night.

Last week my friend who lives in another state called me to catch up. He spoke of another friend who had been on a cruise and several people died on this cruise. The next day I got a call from another friend, living in California. He told me that a mutual friend of ours had died. On a cruise. I soon figured out that I knew two people on that cruise ship and one of them did not get off alive.

I will think of my friend who died on the cruise and remember him too.

Death is sad but it is also a part of life. Sometimes people think I am unfeeling or obsessed with death in some other way, but I accept it in a particular way. Ask me how I feel however when someone close to me goes… That will be another story, won’t it.

I miss my funeral ministry, but I do get to work on a lot of funerals at my job. Last week Father was away and I spent time with a family who had just suffered a loss. It fell upon me to help them plan the funeral liturgy for their beloved one. What a privilege, what a grace.

Who have you lost that touches you in a particular way? How do you remember them?

Please leave your prayers for the dead along with their names in the comments if you wish. Let us all pray for those who have gone before us on this day and always.

From the Preface for Christian Death I: [The hope of rising in Christ]

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In him, who rose from the dead,
our hope of resurrection dawned.
The sadness of death gives way
to the bright promise of immortality.

Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended.
When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death
we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.

And so, with all the choirs of angels in heaven
we proclaim your glory
and join in their unending hymn of praise:

Holy, holy, holy Lord…