I recently heard a young woman describe a Chinese grieving ritual on an NPR broadcast:
At her grandfather’s funeral, his oldest son was tasked with demonstrating the depth of grief and pain the father’s passing left behind. He stood before the casket, raised a clay bowl above his head and smashed it to the ground while loudly wailing.
The bowl was shattered into fragments too small and too fragile to be put back together in any semblance of what they once represented.
When I heard the story, my heart cried, “YES!!”
Why can’t we do something like that? Why can’t we have a dramatic outburst at the edge of death that burns an unforgettable image in the hearts and minds of those who join us to say good-bye?
I honestly wouldn’t change a thing about Dominic’s Homegoing Service –except for it to be unnecessary.
We had a beautiful video full of photographs provided by friends and family. There were praise songs chosen to remind us of the brevity of life and the eternal hope we have in Jesus.
He was placed under a giant Tree of Life that had been constructed in the sanctuary as part of the Palm Sunday/Easter celebrations of that week. Even as we planned the service I remember thinking, “Only a DeSimone could leave earth when some wild thing like this was available to mark his passing!”
And our Pastor/Shepherd/Friend who had spent many quality hours with our children gave the message. The sanctuary was filled with people from all walks of life, all faith traditions and all ages-many hearing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus for the first time.
It was as good as it could have been.
But if I could go back-I’d add this element:
I would raise a clay bowl over my head as high as I could and I would smash it with a loud wail.
Because in the end, that’s what child loss does to a mama’s heart. It shatters it into pieces so tiny and so fragile that simply to gather them into a pile takes oh, so much time.
And the pieces never fit again. They never make a whole. There are always gaps and the vessel remains fragile and easily broken.
I am still gathering pieces.
Still looking for the ones that slid under this edge out of sight or got kicked farther away than I thought they could be.
I’m placing the ones I recognize back into what seems the proper setting.
I’m finding some that look like they don’t belong anywhere and will have to wait to see if I ever figure out where they should go.
I’m beginning to look more and more like I’m whole.
And in some ways, I am. But in many ways it is an illusion-a trick of the eye-a turning of the ugly broken toward the wall where you can’t see it.
I’m still missing so, so much.