Do I remember and honor my dead family and friends?
The past few years have been filled with heartbreaking news — the Covid-19 pandemic, natural disasters, mass shootings, economic hardships, and the war that continues to be waged in Ukraine. The death tolls from each of these events are reported and it is easy to be overwhelmed by the number of people that lost their lives and the impacts of those deaths on their family, friends, and communities.
The recent earthquake in Syria and Turkey has led to over 20,000 deaths and I found myself almost numb to hear that amount. It is so difficult to imagine that so many people lost their lives as the result of one event. I then read an article written by a priest who has spent time in Syria and he focused the article on a family that he had met over 30 years ago. The family, who is Muslim, had invited the priest into their home, their lives. They were more than friends — they had become family. The article recounted how the family has suffered through deaths and separation and war over the past 30 years, and that the recent earthquake had killed all of the members of the family that still lived in Syria, except for the patriarch, who is now alone. The priest noted that he would be helping his friend as best as he can, but that he was remembering the love and friendship of his friends through writing the article and sharing his story with the world.
It is easy to forget how these large disasters and tragedies affect so many lives, and that the people that died each have a beautiful story to share. The article reminded me that I need to remember my dear family and friends that have died, to pray for the repose of their souls, and to offer memorial Masses for them, but also to share their stories with others, to let people know about them, to share their dreams and talents. Our society seems to be afraid of even talking about death, and so once a funeral is over, we tend to move on and not talk about those who have died. I am taking note of the beautiful reflection that the priest wrote about the family in Syria who has suffered so much death and loss, and talk and share stories about my loved ones who are no longer with us. Like my father, who told the best jokes and never met a stranger, my grandmother who was so loving and so talented in so many ways (particularly in baking and knitting), my dear friend Carmen, who worked with me and brightened each day with her smile, my good friend Roy, who brought a love and joy for life to everything he did (including his fabulous cooking), my dear baby Grace, who I lost before she was born, but is never far from my thoughts…
How did I remember the dead today?
Thank you, Lord, for bringing my family and friends into my life and allowing me to share time with them on earth. God willing, we will all be together in heaven someday. Authentically Yours