I can’t pretend to know the first thing about bereavement or grieving. I can tell you that I’m figuring it out day by day, and so far the only thing I am certain of is that there is no “normal.”  There is no right way or wrong way to do this.  Before you can even register the emotion you’re feeling this moment, it will be replaced with another, and another, and then another after that.

No “One Size Fits All”

The same goes for saying goodbye. There are a million different ways to do it; some traditional, and some not so traditional. Again, there is no right or wrong. In fact, I think if ever there was a time to follow your heart, this is it.

We said goodbye to my sweet mother yesterday, exactly three weeks after she became an angel. There was nothing traditional about it, and we were flying by the seat of our pants throughout much of the planning. My mind has been scattered. I had returned to work the day after Christmas after being out for a month and that in itself was overwhelming.

Fortunately, I had so much help that there was no way the Celebration of Life we planned for Mom could be anything but perfect. My daughter and my closest friends took care of many of the details; it simply would not have happened without them. The result? Well, the day was even more beautiful than any of us could have imagined.

Celebrating a Life Well Lived

We were blessed in that my mom made her wishes clear many years ago. No traditional funeral and viewing. She wanted her friends to come together and celebrate her life. So with that as the foundation, we just had to put the pieces together to create a day of tasteful celebration, smiles and tears, love and memories.  The day included all of Mom’s favorite things from treasured friends and family to wonderful music, delicious food and wine, great memories, stories from years gone by, and plenty of laughter – and tears.

At the end of the day, I was emotionally and physically drained, but felt so uplifted by the love that had surrounded me all day. I knew without question that Mom had been in attendance, smiling from her celestial perch, and absolutely amazed that all of this was for her. At the end of the formal memorial, we released hundreds of lavender and pearlescent balloons creating one of the most breathtaking, magical moments I’ve ever experienced.

Follow Your Heart to a Peaceful Place

The lesson in this is that there is no right or wrong way to say goodbye when a loved one takes their final journey. Only you know what they would have wanted or what is fitting for their life and personality. Never let someone’s arbitrary definition of “normal” get in the way of creating the perfect Home Going for the person of honor – be it traditional or uniquely non-traditional. At the end of the day, you’ll walk away knowing you’ve done everything possible to make sure they know how much they are loved.

– Photo Credits: Christy Cantrell and Reuben Gainey, respectively.

 

4 Comments

  1. Ella

    Dear Ann, that being said about what’s normal or right or wrong, once again I express my condolances to you. I believe it’s important to remember to not be so hard on ourselves, you certainly have no reason to. From your sharing of the journey you and your mother were on, together, it certainly read that you were there for her, getting everything right, God Bless you. Let’s not forget how the caregiving role is a challenging one, it’s ok to ponder on trials and tribulations, to question decisions we chose. Losing my dear mother in 2005, emotions were plentiful, they still are. I realize, maybe for me, that’s ok. I cherish feeling, it brings back memories (all kinds) and I’m remembering (not wanting to stop). So express your emotions, if tears come allow them; mine still appear. Give yourself time to grieve, the amount is not carved in stone. Always remember your mother is with you still, loving you always. I will always love and miss my dear mother and us.

    • Ann Napoletan

      Thanks Ella… Yes, I’m finding that I really have no control over my emotions right now. I think riding it out is the only alternative. With the Celebration of Life behind us now, things are feeling more final and that in itself is raising all kinds of new feelings… One day at a time…

  2. Ann Napoletan

    Thanks Ella… Yes, I’m finding that I really have no control over my emotions right now. I think riding it out is the only alternative. With the Celebration of Life behind us now, things are feeling more final and that in itself is raising all kinds of new feelings… One day at a time…

  3. jackie

    I just passed the 25th anniversary this month of losing my mom. Dad followed her 9 yrs. later, so I have felt like an orphan for many years. Some of my friends still have there parents, and when I listen to stories of their aging parents, I feel I escaped seeing my parents age, however I feel somewhat cheated that they left me so young ( mom was 56, my age now, & dad was 69 when he died ). Hey, life is uncertain, and this is how our family history has played out. I don’t remember any special “celebration of life”, I just know I think of them often, loved them to pieces, and know I will see them again ( hopefully, not too soon ! ). it is unsettling to be next in line to go, but my fur family is very comforting.

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