Memorial Services offer an unexpected joy and are an honor to participate in. I only perform a handful of memorials each year – most of my time is spent working with couples preparing for their wedding; hopefully, one of the happiest days of their lives.
Memorial services on the other hand, bring people together when they are sad and grieving the loss of a loved one or close friend. While these are undoubtedly sad occasions, with each memorial I write I am reminded of the significance and impact of each life. It has been a true honor to memorialize two very different women in recent months. The first focused her life on her family in a very traditional way. Her priorities were supporting her husband and raising her children. She was a significant and positive force in the life of her grandchildren, too. Her legacy lives on in her descendants without a doubt. But during her memorial we also spoke about her strength to come to this country as a young wife and mother who didn’t know the language or culture. The quiet leadership she provided as she passed on values and traditions and culture from her home country. The place she made for herself in the community with volunteerism and a strong group of friends. It was a joy to facilitate the sharing of all those aspects of that woman to her family and friends and help them see their mother and grandmother in yet another light.
Even more recently I helped memorialize another woman who was both very similar to and very different from the woman described above. This woman was also an immigrant to this country, and she had an incredibly close circle of friends in her town. However, she did not have children (or grandchildren, of course). And she was a professional woman, a scientist, who worked in multiple countries over the years. Her work was groundbreaking, and was documented in many scientific papers. She built and maintained friendships over many decades, and was mourned by people literally around the world when she passed. She loved her husband passionately, and her father deeply. She loved art in many forms and treasured her garden and her pets. Because many of the people who attended her memorial service had known her primarily through work, they were able to learn about her and appreciate even more the woman she was.
Two very different lives, each special and memorable in their own way. While I never knew either woman, I now carry both of them with me, knowing they each set their own path through life, and have left their mark on the world. It is through the creation and performance of their memorial services that I came to know these women, and I am changed by it. It was an honor and joy to be a small part of celebrating the lives they lived. I see the world differently because of what I’ve learned about them and how they embraced life. I hope to live life as well as they did. Rest in peace my friends, and know that you have impacted the world in ways you could never imagine.