Celebration of Life

Decades in hospitality dictate my presence at countless funerals. Of an age where “funeral” defines passing of a life, modern terminology – celebration of life, does little to assure I’ll find it easier to cope with.

Today’s celebration of life began as any other. My job – facilitate an afternoon according to family wishes, anticipate variance in timelines, and extend thoughtful handling of a difficult and emotional event with understanding, flexibility and compassion. Thankfully I’m kept busy – but for necessity of service, I would fear the grip of debilitating sadness. Funerals, even of those whose lives never touched mine are difficult.

I make a point of “tuning out”, conscious detachment the only weapon against utter irrational collapse.Acutely aware of my tendency to dissolve into a heap of unflattering, misplaced blubbering idiocy – I’ve mastered the art of professional disconnect.

Today something shattered decades of veneer – our client, daughter of the deceased began to speak with tender whisper. Her words penetrated years of practiced resolve.  “I loved my father’s hands, he had beautiful hands. His hands held everything he cared for, his hands held hammers, rope, pen – and his hands held me”.

Not wanting to explain tears dripping off my chin, I bolted outside. No measure of “stop it you idiot”, squelched my reaction to celebration of a life I never knew. I recognized those hands – in my heart, these where hands of a life worth remembering.




12 thoughts on “Celebration of Life

  1. My first meeting with Death was in 1955 when my grandmother Rosina Quesnel died. The casket was in the living room. I was 6 years-old.

    • I couldn’t begin to imagine a 6 year old faced with an open casket. My family was/is a cremation/post service gathering clan. As I get older (and in no small part due to the number of others families funerals I’ve presided over) I find it easier to approach the passing of a loved one. Every so often I’m caught off guard, unprepared for tender words that inexplicably dissolve professional resolve.

  2. Very true. You can go to the funeral of a perfect stranger and cry at the sad parting. I can only think that our tearful empathy is a deep reflection of our own impending passing, as well of those we love or loved. 

    Not unlike weddings when we remember not just the vows we made but the deep belief and knowledge that it would all be great. A hopeful feeling.

    But, notes,  it never occurred to me that professionals of such occasions would share the emotions. That’s actually quite heart warming. 

  3. Reblogged this on The Seeker and commented:
    A touching moment:
    “I loved my father’s hands, he had beautiful hands. His hands held everything he cared for, his hands held hammers, rope, pen – and his hands held me”.

  4. Beautiful post. I remember my grandfather’s hands like that. He worked hard all his life, and was a precision cutter and grinder. His hands were dirty when he came in from work but always spotless by dinner time. I measured my hands against his, played with his fingers, and loved him without restraint. Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

    • Your comment arrived as a seasonal gift, an invitation to revisit a post I’d forgotten about. Thank you.
      I’ve always been fascinated by memories.My blog was a mothers day gift from my daughter, (she gave me a slip of paper with address and password, saying “this will be good for you”) I hadn’t written in 30 years. Over 1,000 posts later, I’m fondest of those seeded in recollections. I know linking to personal blog content is poor form.That said, temptation calls for bad manners.
      Two posts – not well written but dear to my heart for what they convey.If inclined take a peek, I think you’d like them.

      • I will definitely do this over the next couple of days. I’m traveling in Australia for the next three weeks, so I may take longer than usual. Have a great New Years. Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

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