The older I get, the wiser I become.
When I was young and foolish, I was of the opinion that funerals and wakes only made the intense grief of the families last longer. I thought they were cruel.
Yesterday, I was once again reminded that instead of being cruel, they can be a like a healing salve gently placed over a wound.
I was at the memorial service of a young man who died suddenly and unnecessarily because of a series of medical missteps. He was 25. He was my cousin’s first~born son.
We all believe that no parent, no matter how old, should have to outlive their children. It is not natural in the course of life. But we also know that life can be unbearably cruel.
I think I can speak for all my cousins and their parents when I say that we were all so heavy~hearted knowing the pain our cousin and her family were in and how there was truly nothing we could do to lessen their pain. I am also sure had there been a way to take some of the grief and carry it for awhile, we would have all stepped up and gotten our portion….because that is what families do.
Kyler is the name of my cousin’s son. He was an employee of the Department of Corrections for the state of Minnesota. He worked with his dad and still lived at home, happily, one of the rare breed of young people who actually like their parents and want to spend time with them. So at the service there was a large contingent of officers in uniform as befitting the falling of one of their own.
When you see the respect and loyalty that these people show someone they may never even have met but because they were one of their own, they show up to honor their brother and his family. I was so impressed.
The woman who was officiating the service did not know Kyler personally but had spent time with his family getting to know him through their stories about him. She did a fantastic job retelling some of the stories so those of us that did not know him well, got a better look into the kind of person he was. That takes a special kind of compassion and gifting….not all who officiate funerals can do that.
Kyler’s two aunties (my cousins’s sisters) got up and spoke about him and even though their voices shook with so much emotion, we got to hear how much Kyler meant to them and their kids.
Kyler’s family each picked a song that meant something to them in regards to him and they were not your typical “funeral” songs….some made us cry while others made us smile.
But the part of the service that had the most impact on us all, was when they played a recording of the person who calls out to the officers when it is their watch time. Her voice called out his name twice and when there was no response, she said his watch was over and that he would be watching over all of them and the whole time this was being played, his father….his best friend…his co~worker….was overcome with emotion and the rest of us rode that wave of pain with him.
Because I am older and wiser, I understand the need for this time of grieving…..to cry with those who are also mourning the loss…to absorb the grief and then to release it….not fully of course, but enough that when you leave, the boulder hanging onto your heart has shrunk to a more manageable stone.
And to be able to gather afterward with family and to tell stories and to reminisce about childhood memories and other’s who have gone and to (in our case) pass around a bottle of a favorite adult beverage in remembrance of the one who loved it. It is all part of how we begin to heal after such a terrible tragedy.
Those we have gone before us are never truly forgotten as long as there is one person who still remembers them and shares their story…..
Kyler Lee Greene…..you will live forever in the hearts and minds of those who gathered yesterday and those that will think of you and speak of you in the years to come. You are away but always near in our hearts…..