Today I met up with my brother and sister-in-law for the last part of saying goodbye to mum; the burying of her ashes, and my dad’s plaque being updated to commemorate both of them.
It was only a short ceremony, as the main service had been at her cremation, back in August.
I often feel awkward at these kind of things, especially where there are hymns and prayers, and a response is expected. As a non-religious person, I really do feel wrong in participating, saying words that are very important to others, but meaningless to me (if they weren’t important to others, it would seem less hypocritical). At the same time, I have a very strong feeling of “this is not about me”, and so don’t want to make my feelings obvious. So I normally simply close my eyes and think good thoughts.
However, the reading we were given today was excellent. On googling it when I got home (what else would you do!), I find it was originally a love poem by a chap called David Harkins, that somehow got turned into a poem of condolence. And apparently, we are in good company, as the Queen read it out at her own mother’s funeral.
It was perfect for the day, and I thought I would share.
You can shed tears that she is gone,
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her,
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her only that she is gone,
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what she’d want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on
– David Harkins