I’m hoping my cousin gets the healing she needs this month.
Almost a year after her brother David passed away, she is having a celebration of life for him.
I wrote about Janet in January 2020 in a column titled “A life is changed in the blink of an eye.” Janet had come to help her 60-year-old brother after his cataract surgery. While she was there he fell down the stairs, resulting in spinal cord, back and neck injuries.
Janet spent a good part of 2020 as a caregiver for her brother and her mother during the most challenging of times. After David spent months in a Boston hospital, Janet had him airlifted to a long-term care facility in Texas so they could be near one another.
She moved her mother there, too.
David died in August last year. The hospital allowed both her and her mother to say their goodbyes, but of course no funeral services were being held at the height of the pandemic.
Like so many families, Janet could not say goodbye through the usual comforting rituals.
I have several friends who have lost loved ones this past year and were unable to hold services at the time of their loss. As the country begins to reopen and the time draws near for friends and family to gather, anticipation of these events brings about many emotions, and not everyone feels the same things.
One of my friends is reliving her feelings of grief. Another is eager to listen to what others will say about how her sister touched their lives.
Celebration of life ceremonies are, of course, for the those who knew and loved the deceased. They serve to heal and to appreciate the significance of the life lost.
I know Janet’s celebration of life for her brother will be in the town where he grew up, where he passionately tracked the stats for the local high school’s sports teams and where he was known by so many.
It will be a casual and upbeat affair, allowing those who knew him to share stories and positive memories. I’m sure laughter and jokes will abound, and that the event will be joyful and unstructured, just like David’s personality.
I can imagine many attendees wearing Boston Red Sox hats or jerseys since David was a rabid fan. Janet is very creative; she is a high school art teacher, so I bet there will be some imaginative tributes to David’s life.
There is so much that we have put on hold during the past year, gaining closure for those who were lost being one of them.
But delays in in- person celebrations included happy occasions too. My sister and her family just traveled to Philadelphia to celebrate the marriage of a dear friend’s daughter. After two planned and postponed weddings, the couple tied the knot with a small group of immediate family during the pandemic.
When things began to reopen, they planned their reception and invited friends and family from across the country.
My sister says the event was a blast. There was as much excitement for the newlyweds as there was just to see each other in person, to hug and to dance.
Celebrations unite and connect us. They strengthen our bonds and support our sense of belonging.
If there has been a milestone that occurred this past year that has not been celebrated, now might be the time to plan an event.
Putting a mental bookmark on the experience allows us to remember positive emotions tied to that event and stores them in our memory banks for years to come.
I’m sure David’s celebration of life will be just the thing Janet needs to create a joyful mental bookmark about her brother’s impact on this world.