It was All Souls' Day last Sunday; on the 2nd of November - a time to commemorate our departed loved ones and all those who have been called to their rest for eternity
You may have noticed the masses of people heading to the Christian cemeteries, with bouquets of flowers and packs of candles to pay their respects to their deceased family members
It is once in a year kind of event; and it is celebrated in a rather solemn affair (after all, how extravagant do you want to remember the dead?)
This year, All Souls' Day is announced as a day of obligation, along with the celebration of All Saints' Day which falls on one day earlier
Again, solemnity clouds the minds of all as we are called upon to pray for our loved ones who have gone to their rest
The sermon by the parish priest was inspiring and sentimental; creating the effect of loss and yet the instant strength of survival.
Quote: The dead has gone, but you are still here
It was a matter that we all knew too well in our heart and funnily, we always seem to know how to console someone in grief when they have lost a loved one and yet commit the same mistake when it is our very own experience.
We always find it hard to accept the fact that someone so close to us may not be there to greet us in the morning; we even refuse to look at it that way. At such a stage, we are in denial and it is most common when the demise involves someone very very dear to us.
Death is never an easy topic to discuss nor accept; and it is hardest when it involves a tragic occurence.
A sudden death is unexpected and close family members find it hardest to accept the reality as it takes them by a storm. That does not mean that people are prepared when their family member is sick but at least, mentally, it does not take them by shock.
The passing of a young family member is also another shocking occurrence when his/her death just take place through a tragic occurrence.
Grieve if you must, as it helps with the process of dealing with the reality.
However, grief should not be permanent nor overwhelm your entire life as this is not what it is meant for. Accepting the demise is tough but your world does not revolve around one person in your life. If you love the person very dearly, it will be the same for that person.
Do not take the whole grief into your life that it will affect your surviving days.
Life is short, and it may be sad to lose that person dear to you but life has to go on.
Death is a fact; a reality that will happen to each and every of us; whether we like it or not - fear or no fear.
Everyone has a certain fear of death but it is something that we are looking at since the very day we are born into this world.
Death is like birth, it happens to everyone.
The day we are born, we are already facing the possibility of death and it can come anytime; it's inevitable.
Death does not come knocking on your door, so just deal with it and make sure you live your life that you will not regret it when your time comes.
It was truly touching as I listened to his sermon and since it was somber throughout the mass, the priest even encouraged people to cry or express their grief should they feel emotional during the prayers for their departed ones.
Keeping them in prayers for their happiness with the Lord is the only thing we can do; if we felt we have not done enough for them during their days alive.
Prayers; said sincerely, is our love shown to them and we can also ask for their forgiveness should we have wronged them or even ask for reconciliation.
Hatred and grudges should never be carried to the grave; and this is why we should always practice the way of forgiving and forgetting.
It is not easy again; but think about it, how do you feel if the last word you said to your loved one is "I HATE YOU" and find them gone the next day and you may never see them ever again?
It is always important to reconcile.
As I pray for my departed paternal grandparents, I was inspired by the quotes and sermon by the priest and though I felt a little emotional, I somehow unconsciously held back my tears.
However, when the hymn was played to the rather solemn 'The Bread of Life', I found that I couldn't stop the tears from filling my eyes.
This song is a pinch to my inner senses and reminds me of my paternal grandfather who passed away 14 years ago. It was the first time I experienced death in my own family; and my grandfather, though a man of few words, had always been someone I had gotten so use to seeing him around that I found it really hard when I heard the term death being associated with him.
I was young at that time, but I had already understood the term of death.
I still remember that particular day in March; it was on a Tuesday evening. It had been a few days since my grandfather had been admitted to the hospital for his surgery and he has been recuperating really well.
It was raining heavily a few minutes to 5pm; and the phone in my house rang.
I was the one who picked up the phone and I heard my uncle's voice on the other end, telling me to inform my mum that my grandfather just passed away at 5.15pm
I was stunned and I soon found my voice to shout to my mum that uncle just called to break the news. I remembered my mum looking shocked as well.
I cried immediately and not knowing what to do, I just followed my mum's instructions.
I was feeling scared at the same time but I hurried to take my bath as we will be going over to my uncle's house which will be the location of the arrival of my dear grandfather's body from the hospital.
I was taking bath, and I don't know whether it was my imagination or was it real
I saw a pair of black leather shoes standing outside my bathroom.
It was impossible, as Daddy is the only one wearing that shoe and he is still at work and he is on his way home.
Mummy was outside in the garden keeping the clothes from my line while brother was watching TV (he was a very young kid)
I stopped in shock and turned away, splashing water on myself and in a blink of an eye, the shoes disappeared and I heard my mummy in the kitchen.
Thinking back, it may be spooky but I somehow felt that probably grandpa was indeed home to say his final goodbye to me, his eldest granddaughter; probably the only one who truly understood things at that time.
It was really sad, and everyone cried during his funeral.
The last hymn we sang before sending him out to the cemetery was exactly that Bread of Life
I am the Bread of Life,
He Who Comes to me shall not Hunger
He Who believes shall not thirst
No one can come to me
Unless the Father drew him
Chorus: And I will raise him up
And I will raise him up
And I will raise him up
On the Last Day
It was truly the most memorable song to me, and the touching tune and lyrics of the hymn also reminded how heavy-hearted I was to accept the fact that my grandfather won't ever be there to smile and nod his head when I visit him.
That was when I broke down in the church; and I did not feel alone as most of the ladies around me had already been crying. I am easily moved to tears whenever I see people around me cry, but this time, the thought of my beloved grandparents and the memorable tune contributed to the tears.
I still miss them dearly (grandma has also gone to join him about 7 years ago) but I am looking back at the wonderful memories I had of them during my childhood and I know they truly loved me as their granddaughter and had always been proud of my achievements.
I have graduated, grandma and grandpa and I've found great career, thanks to your blessing and guidance. Although you can't be here to see this day or celebrate with me, I know that you are watching me from a much better place.
I have lived on, and I want to make you even more proud of me as I continuously strive for the higher levels of successes.
Grieving is inevitable as we come to terms with their death, but living on for ourselves and for their sake is much more important.
Just as Mariah Carey's touching Bye Bye, we should not look at them being gone as we know they are still up there with God; probably they are even saints already!:)
Live on; just as what Jack told Rose in Titanic - 'My Heart will Go on, you must live on'
Grieve if you must, but you still have your own life looking ahead of you.
And instead of worrying about your death, just make the best out of it and live everyday like it's going to be your last.
Most importantly, Live your Life to the fullest!!
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