Last night I went to the funeral home for the viewing of Kayla, my friend’s daughter was murdered Saturday night.
I approached the casket which decorated with flowers and stuffed animals and pictures. Before me lay a beautiful girl, still, silent, dead….but she looked as if she were just sleeping. It was as if I could touch her arm and she would awaken with that huge smile she always had. But that wasn’t the case as a rifle shot ripped through her body, from back to front, and took her life. She lay in her mother’s arms dying while her mother talked to her. In a way, that is a wonderful story in the fact that her mother held her when she came into the world, and held her when she left. I know that someday that will be of comfort to her mother….just not today nor tomorrow.
I did my normal thing at a viewing which was sign my name, hug my friends that were already there, look at all the flowers, and slowly make my way to the opened casket. I’m sure at some point in my life, as a child, I must have been afraid of that, but as it was so ingrained in my family for the Rosary and a proper Wake and opened casket funeral, it is as natural as it can be.
I went to the church today and sat between two friends and watched the computerized slide show put to music and listened to the teenagers crying and sniffling and ultimately Kayla’s father breaking down in the front pew and weeping for the loss of his daughter.
I looked around and saw all the good that a girl had done in just 17 short years. She had dedicated herself to her education and helping special needs children….in fact it was her calling. She graduated a year early and was enrolled to start college on June 6 and volunteering at The Little Lighthouse. I looked at people Kayla had never met who were touched by her through her parents.
Grief is a bond that binds us all. No one is immune to the experience of loss and, because we are unique individuals, our journeys through sadness and heartache will vary. So how do we distinguish between grieving that is leading to emotional healing, and a response that is hindering recovery? First, you must begin by understanding grief itself.
Now isn’t the time to explain this to her mother….because frankly, her family, especially her mother and father will never get over Kayla’s death. They will get better at handling it….but the mark is made.
Grief is truly the sorrow of the soul. The Mayo Clinic states that most people experience normal grief – a period of sorrow, numbness and even guilt and anger. However, gradually, these feelings ease, and the loss is accepted.
Reaching out to friends and family for emotional support is vital to the healing process, and a promise made by family and friends to the person grieving should be made privately by their actions and deeds not to let the person flounder about in search of compassion. It’s also one day realizing that your ability to talk about the loss you’ve experienced is in fact helping another person get through his or her loss.
My father died ten years ago and I am open and available at all times to speak with my friend Shari whose father is dying of the same disease that mine did. It helps her, but at first she wa apologetic when she would ask questions. But that’s normal and it’s ok. I tell her what to expect….what the process claiming his body will be like to prepare herself. I don’t tell her more than she wants to know.
The best thing I know to do for my friend is:
Be present. Don’t let her walk this path alone.
Be a good listener. Allow her to share her pain in words by talking, writing or praying.
Don’t be judgmental or critical.
Encourage her to attend a support group in their area.
Offer prayer or literature that provides strength and comfort.
The good left by this girl is untold at this point….but it has made me realize that love really is the only important thing….and as bad as things can get I still have love. I have love in my heart so deep for some that it is immeasurable.
I reached out to someone today just to say how much I cared….and what a huge presence he has been in my life.
Always have, Always will.