Tag Archives: #comfort

Many members of the  Y generation and Mellennials  [born 1977 to 1995]  say they do not want to be viewed in a casket after they leave this world.   They think caskets, viewings, funerals and people getting together when they are grieving is distasteful to them and not their expression of sympathy.  They also feel that attending a 'gathering' or 'luncheon' afterwards is like 'having a party' and is not something they want any part of for themselves.   They don't want anyone to see them laid out - and they don't want to have a lot of folks around them if they lose a loved one and are sorrowful  - they want to just go home - and be alone with their loss/grief.

As I was growng up, I used to dread wakes, and the traditions surrounding them. As I got older, I realized the need for the grieving family and loved ones to process the loss they were going through.  Attending the services is an expression of respect for the deceased and their loved ones.  Some people die unexpectedly and the wake is the reality that the loss did happen.  When a wake is not attended, there could be a thought or denial that it did not happen, ie, ‘I did not see it therefore I can’t believe it’.

Wakes, viewings, and services are a part of life for many Generation X members [(born 1965 to 1979] and Baby Boomers [born 1946 to 1964]  and Traditionalists or Silent Generation born 1945 or before.

The bereaved need the comfort of family, friends and acquaintances during this most grieving time. As difficult and tearful as it is, it gives the bereaved an opportunity to give needed expression to release the grief that most of us feel at these times in order to heal and accept their loss.

it is your presence that will be remembered and not your words.   Acts of comforting via touch, hugs, or listening help heal the loss feelings – which could be overwhelming into a depression if they are not expressed – and your presence may foster acceptance and healing.

In today's culture,  wake or viewing times have been shortened to sometimes to just one day [it used to be 3 days followed by the funeral the next day [or fourth day].  It may be a drain on a family who may have not slept in days or experience long travel times or accommodations  for out-of-time relatives. There are closed caskets, cremations and different memorials for the deceased.  Wakes are a part of a person’s life just as baptisms or weddings are.  Attending Services are acts of respect for the deceased and their loved ones.   Sometimes there are quips and laughter in remembrances of the deceased and is not meant disrespectfully but in remembering and cherishing memories of him or her.

There are lunches after the cemetery or interment....It’s closure.   It is better to be with people who knew and loved the person who died than to go home right after the cemetery – alone with a heavy heart.  It reconnects people who have lost touch. Shared grief will share the loss for all.   Wake viewings and funerals serve this purpose.

If you are a faith person, the viewing and church services are a celebration of a new life in eternity with God.  Many churches focus on this positive affirmation instead of the negative of loss. If you believe in the resurrection of the dead, then the wake is a celebration of their life here on earth and the new life they are entering.

Marie Coppola July 2017

The Bible mentions angels frequently.   Angels are mentioned at least 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament.   In the New Testament, the doctrine of angels is precisely stated.  Angels are everywhere -- the intermediaries between God and man.   I was taught that everyone has a guardian angel based on references to them throughout the Bible.

According to the Bible, angels are spiritual (not physical) beings; and they can take on human form or appearance.  

I met one.  

It was the month my father took ill;  he had been admitted into the hospital for a respiratory issue.  After some days, we felt we could take him home, but suddenly he was placed on a ventilator.  After he was on it for a week, our consultations with his doctors proved negative and worrisome.  The doctors wanted to continue the ventilator, but our dad looked uncomfortable and weaker.   We wanted him taken off, and it was a tremendous conflict.

Driving home from the hospital one especially frustrating day, I passed by my church, which is always a great source of comfort to me.   Impulsively and driven by worry, I stopped to see if the pastor was there.   I was told he was not.   I went into the church and while I quietly sat there, a young seminarian came by and asked me if he could help me.   He was such a young priest-in-training, but his kind eyes and compassion affected me; I teared up and couldn't talk to him.   He sat down by me and remained silent.  It was comforting just to have his presence.

When I got up to leave, he walked me to the door, introduced himself and gave me his card.   I had never seen him before or even knew that we had a seminarian.  I was a frequent visitor at the church as a volunteer and Bible class teacher.  I told him my dad was very ill and it did not look hopeful.

I also told him there were other issues in the family going on.  Dad's ailment evoked some see-saw emotions and not everyone was themselves.  That in itself was disturbing and distracting.  We needed to be a family unit at this time.  He told me he had a similar situation in his own family and shared it.  He asked me where I lived which was a few blocks from the church.  He also asked me for my phone number and if he could visit with me at the church again or at my home.  We exchanged numbers and cards.

I got in the habit of stopping at the church each day after work or hospital visit, and the seminarian was always in the church.  He would smile and ask me how my dad and the family were doing.   We would chat by the door and he shared his death and loss experiences, which helped me understand my own.  He had a comforting style and always lifted my spirits after these visits.

Two weeks went by.  My father was still on the ventilator and the stress continued.   After one really wrung-out day, I didn't even want to stop by the church.   I went straight home and just sat in my living room for a long time trying to deal with all the feelings that were almost overwhelming.  My doorbell rang and I stepped out onto the porch and there was the seminarian.  He asked me if I could come out and sit with him on my lawn bench.

I had just prayed and it was so comforting to see him.   We talked awhile and shared feelings about families and deaths.  Looking back, I don't remember discussing any other subjects.  We only spoke  about death, prayers, the sick, loss feelings and our after-death beliefs.  He had such insights, stated them so beautifully - always with a relevant, strong spiritual aspect.   After such talks, I would think, "He has so much knowledge and he's so young."

From the time our dad went into the hospital and the time he left this life...it ended after 30 long days.   I visited with the seminarian almost every day until Dad died.

Our family planned the services immediately in our hometown which was 30 miles away from my own. Planning them, as most of us have experienced, took several days plus additional days of the services and funeral.   I was gone from home for almost a week.

Returning home, I thought of the young priest-to-be and felt so thankful for the guidance and friendship he showed during the past month.   Many insights he shared with me came to mind during the funeral service and highly emotional moments.   Again, impulsively, I pulled into the parking lot and went to the church office.   I asked if the young man was available, and the secretary said that he was done with his parish work here and was reassigned to another parish.  She wasn't sure which one it was, but could check for me.

I told her it was not necessary.  He was an Angel and Heaven-sent.  I don't believe in coincidences. He was there throughout my dad's entire leaving-this-world process.   He never asked me for anything nor did he ever tell me any of his own issues or personal problems.   He solely helped me get through my impending loss.   And he did just that.  I was filled with gratitude for the daily comfort he brought.  He fulfilled his 'assignment' and moved on.

I never saw or heard about him again.   And I am grateful to God for sending him to help me through a bad time......."For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways."  Psalm 91:11

Marie Coppola June 30, 2014