Yesterday my two boys and I, along with DDIL and JP, attended a memorial service at the chapel in the hospital where my husband passed away in early December. It was small and informal with what looked to be about five families attending. Apparently the hospital chaplains and grief counselors hold these quarterly services to celebrate the lives of people who died at the hospital or in hospice.
Chaplain Kim had lost an older sister when she was 17 and her family had few coping skills to deal with their grief, let alone the ability to teach their children how to handle their feelings. The grief counselor lost her husband to a brain aneurysm many years ago when she was a 28-year-old mother of a three-year old daughter. He lingered in a coma for nearly a month. It was obvious that these events shaped their lives and career choices.
One woman who attended lost her 22-year-old son, father of three little ones, to a heroin overdose in December. Another family lost their elderly father after a grueling hospice stay.
We had the chance to light a candle for our loved one and pick a stone from a bowl of lovely choices to keep with us as a tangible reminder of the love we had shared. I chose one that is a bluish gray and reminded me of my husband’s eyes. I think I will put it by his picture on my nightstand so it’s the last thing I see before turning out the light.
I was too emotional to speak to the group, but if I’d been able, I would have told them that Paul was my soul mate, a great father and papa and a wonderful husband. He was a self made man from rural Tennessee who put himself through school on the GI Bill and became an electronic engineer. He told me he’d known since he was a small child what he wanted to do for a living. He found the whole process so fascinating when his family’s first little house finally got electricity that he had to understand how it worked. And he eventually did!
What I gleaned from the memorial service were mostly things I already knew. Any feelings you are experiencing about grief are normal and okay. There is shock, denial, anger, bargaining and finally acceptance. There can be a need to be alone or a need to share. Self-care and socialization are important, but we all move at our own speed. I feel like I’m somewhere in the “fake it till you make it” phase. I have moved on from shock and denial and am able to get through the days.
I’m packing up the house to sell but it’s not a hasty decision. We had planned to move this year anyway, but instead of finding a new place right away, youngest and I will move in with JP’s family for a while. My house is too big and holds too many memories.
And that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I’m kind of day by day right now in the healing process.
From what I’ve been reading, a popular belief seems to be that putting candles on birthday cakes was a custom started by ancient Greeks. They would place candles on a cake they offered to Artemis, the Goddess of the Moon. Candles were placed in a circle to make the cake glow like the moon.
The custom of placing lit candles on a cake-like bread was thought to be a way of communicating with the gods that ancient peoples believed lived in the sky. And some felt that when a person made a wish while blowing out the flame a signal or message was received by the gods and the prayerful wish would be granted.
More modern day birthday cakes with candles are attributed to 18th Century Germans who celebrated Kinderfest or birthday celebrations for their children. Today in the UK, Australia and North America, one candle for each year is generally placed on the cake (space permitting, of course 🙂 ) Sometimes an extra candle is added for luck. And the birthday person makes a private wish that will only come true if all the candles are extinguished in a single breath.
If you would like detailed instructions for creating a birthday wish (hey, no judgement) you can go here to check out an insructional video. I prefer to just close my eyes, wish for another wonderful year, and blow out the candles! (But shh, don’t tell anyone or it might not come true!)
~ Diane D.
(My A to Z Challenge theme is birthdays.)
I told the family I didn’t need a flaming candle for each year! But did they listen? No, they never listen…
“You can’t start a fire
You can’t start a fire without a spark
This gun’s for hire
Even if we’re just dancing in the dark
You sit around getting older
There’s a joke here somewhere and it’s on me
I’ll shake this world off my shoulders
Come on baby this laugh’s on me…”*
*Lyrics from Dancing in the Dark, one of my favorite workout songs by The Boss. It always makes me smile 🙂
On a sad note, farewell to country music legend Merle Haggard who died yesterday, April 6, 2016, on his 79th birthday…
~Diane D. Photo credit: Google
(My AtoZ Challenge theme is birthdays)