My mother died the day before yesterday. It still seems such an odd thing to say--so final, matter of fact, and ordinary. But my mother was never ordinary. That was her gift and her burden. As a pastor's spouse, I have been with many grieving people. And although I experienced the death of my dad a few years ago, I guess we never get used to it.
I've never been one for ritual. Even in church, I tend to think of ritual as an excuse not to truly engage and do something more meaningful. But I have to say that for me, going through the rituals associated with loss of a loved one have been helpful.
The rituals of people bringing food, offering condolences, sending cards and flowers. But also the rituals associated with visitation and the funeral service. All these have been comforting and needed. And I appreciate them in a new way.
I also have an increased gratitude for life itself and the gift of Christian community. While I walk in grief it helps to know that there is a well-traveled path toward healing.