The Thirty Minute Blogger

Exploring Books and the Writer's Life, Faith and Works, Culture and Pop Culture, Space Science and Science Fiction, Technology and Nostalgia, Parenting and Childhood, Health: Physical and Emotional ... All Under the Iron Hands of the Clock and That 30 Minute Deadline

Friday, August 23, 2013

Communities to the Rescue: Virtues of Helping Each Other

When we had a family funeral recently, several communities came together to support us in our loss. The church community where my Grandmom worshipped since the 1940s gathered for the funeral to express their respect for Grandmom, provide their sympathies for our loss, share wonderful stories of the special person who has passed on, and the women of the church threw a luncheon after the interment ceremony was complete. I have to say, after the funeral and internment, part of me wanted nothing more than to return to my Dad's house, curl up, and sleep in my grief. However, returning to the church for that lunch was a much needed tonic. The food was terrific (American Baptists are good for that ... as I'm sure most if not all denominations are), the conversations wonderful, and the support ever present. Tears, stories, and laughter were shared along with the meal. For an extrovert like me, such a gathering is very hard to resist. My desire to just hide in my grief vanished when I saw all those people gathered for a singular cause, supporting us in our loss, and before I knew it, another two hours had passed and spirits had been lifted.

Another community gathered was the small group of men who acted as pall bearers. We came in various ages, sizes, and with lower backs ranging from fully functional to very cranky indeed. With the guidance of the funeral director and his team, we got Grandmom's steel casket up the steep stairs to the church, back down again, and helped her walk her last mile with a grace and dignity none of us could have handled on our own.

Then there was the community of professionals gathered to help. There was the retired pastor who stepped in to lead the service and provide a calming presence so necessary at such events. The two eulogists (if that is a word) who reminded the living of a few of the wonderful reasons the gathered mourners were blessed by the life of the person now gone from our midst but who will not be forgotten. Finally, there were those funeral home people, the dedicated director and his staff. During the service several of them stayed outside the church to shoo away callus downtown shoppers who thought it would be alright to ignore the fact that the meters in front of the church were hooded and reserved for the use of the grieving, a few attended the service, memorized family members names, and provided a level of comfort through gentle guidance and small, gentle humor that made the day more bearable. They earned their fee that day and we appreciated their professionalism and their kindness.

That funeral was a powerful reminder that we are all in this together. I may live in the most individualistic nation on earth in these United States, but it is moments like these that remind us that we really do need each other.

There was one final community that was a great help that difficult day. I let my Facebook friends know what was going on. The influx of well wishes, prayers, and support was wonderful and uplifting as well.  Friends, colleagues, professors all rallied and lifted my spirits.

Do what you can to build community around yourself. There will come a day you'll need their help and you'll discover it was well worth the effort.

For another form of help from a singing community in the form of a hymn, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2013/07/be-still-my-soul-balm-for-grieving.html

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