My mother died this week. Death seems to take on new meaning when it’s your mother. This sense of loss grabs at your heart and doesn’t let go. You’d like it to, but liking it isn’t enough to make it go away.
Having gone through the death of my father, my husband and my sister, I know that, over time – a week, a month, a year – the heaviness in my heart will pass. They say life goes on – or does it.
For some cultures, such as the Filipino and Native American, the spirit of the deceased person does not leave for a year. Rather, they hang around to keep us company and assure that all is well. It would be comforting to know that I am not alone on ‘this side of the Jordan’ as my Baptist friends tell me.
But I’m Irish Catholic and that is not my view of the hereafter. The Catholics believe that you enter the pearly gates to be greeted by Saint Peter and company. Now that puts a smile on my face. Not only did Mom have a welcoming party, she is now hanging out with Dad, my sister Barby and my grandparents. My perception is they are having a great time and not worried about us in the slightest.
However, if my Mom were a Seventh Day Adventist, like my aunt who passed a couple of years ago, then she’s asleep, and only with the second coming of Christ that she, and all the other Adventists who’d gone before her, would enter the pearly gates – together. Now that would be quite a lively reunion.
If Mom were Jehovah's Witness, the belief is that there is only room for 144,000 – tops. If that’s the case, could you lose your place in line if you don’t lead an exemplary life?
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How about those of Jewish faith. A tradition of covering the the mirrors in the house is done to prevent the spirit from coming back and snatching the mourners.
When visiting a small village in Ireland, the shop owner told us when someone dies, their tradition is to stop all their clocks at the hour the person died – only to be restarted after the burial.
I think the folks in New Orleans have one of the best ways to say goodbye – have a parade to celebrate the life and death of the loved one.
We all grieve differently. We have options. I think I’m going to stop all clocks, cover the mirrors and have a parade. And, along with my nine brothers and sisters, raise a glass of Guinness to our Mom -- best mother ever.