Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old, he will not depart from it.
“She looks like she’s sleeping,” my youngest son said to me as we stood next to the open casket where Catherine laid. “Yes, she does,” I agreed. Catherine was my eldest son’s girlfriend’s maternal grandmother.
I suppose that’s why we often use the phrase “Rest in Peace” during a wake or funeral service: because one looks as if resting peacefully. I explained to my youngest son that even though it looks as if she is sleeping, her body is no longer alive but her spirit continues to live in spirit world. I said a little prayer as we stood together and then asked my son if he wanted to say something. “Goodbye Catherine,” he said. “God be with you,” I added.
This was a new experience for my youngest son. We observed the interactions between family members after we sat down and I used the opportunity to help him get a better understanding of death/loss and funeral services. We talked about family and friends coming together, sharing memories, paying respect, and loving and supporting each other. He saw how some people cried while others celebrated her life and reconnected with loved ones. He recognized various generations ~ from the very young to the older, much wiser elders of a family. We talked about flowers, sympathy cards, hymns/songs, prayers and even something new ~ wind chimes. As we sat observing and sharing, I noticed two wind chimes with bows and cards hanging next to the casket. I had never seen wind chimes placed in that manner, so I asked my eldest son’s girlfriend if she knew their meaning. She said they were gifts to the family and explained that Catherine had two daughters so two personalized wind chimes were made and that each wind chime had scriptures engraved onto the individual tubes. The idea behind the gift is that when the daughters place the wind chimes in or around their home, they are reminded of their mother when they hear the chimes. In addition, the scriptures are carried with the wind and spread all around the home and beyond in her honor. “What a beautiful and fantastic idea,” I thought.
As the service came to a close, I shared with my son that life has many aspects to it ~ death being one of them. It might be difficult for a child to fully understand death/loss but I believe it can be explained as the natural part of life that it is. The service was a beautiful reminder that life is something to be cherished, honored, celebrated and fully lived. I know tonight the wind chimes are singing Catherine’s song for her family to hear.
Target Vocabulary: arrangements, aspect, beyond, body, burial, card, casket, celebration, chapel, cherish, chime, death, experience, family, flowers, full, funeral, gathering, generations, God, home, honor, hymns, individual, joy, life, living, loss, love, maternal, meaning, memories, natural, observe, passing, paternal, peaceful, personal, practice, prayer, reminder, respect, rest in peace, sadness, service, social, sorrow, spirit, support, sympathy, tradition, wake, wishes, wreaths