I had a sister die suddenly towards the end of last week. She died peacefully in her sleep, never having been sick a day in her life. She was a lovely lady who was very private and reserved, and a pleasure to know.
One saying kept coming to me over the weekend and right up to her funeral on Monday: to God everyone is alive. For me this meant that as I stood looking into the coffin I was able to say to myself that ‘you are not dead to God.’
There was great consolation in this thought.
The Irish tradition of the ‘wake’ is a wonderful aid to help the grieving family for the first few days. Friends and neighbours call to the home and say a prayer over the coffin. There is plenty of tea and sandwiches and memories are shared about the deceased. I found some of the stories about my sister’s schooldays very amusing and learned a lot of things about her that I never knew before.
Death is the last rite of passage we go through; the ceremonies of the Church are a great aid and give solace to the family. At yesterday’s Mass I had the honour of reading my favourite piece of scripture, (Proverbs 8: 22-32) in the church where I was Baptised, made my First Communion and Confirmation and hope to be buried from. My grandparents, parents and three siblings are buried in the cemetery; it is where I belong.
God was good to us over these past few days. He gave me and my wife plenty of graces and we were able to cope and play our part in all the rituals and ceremonies. I learnt a very important lesson; God gives us the grace we need at the time we need it, not before or after.
May my sister Margaret rest in peace.