When I was a young girl, my parents moved our family from the Arklatex to the western United States. When we arrived there, I discovered that I had a branch of cousins out west that I had never known. These cousins were the first non-southerners I had ever met. They were kind and gracious, and growing up around them enriched my life.
About 14 years ago, I moved my family back to the southern United States. I returned to the area to attend college and obtain my funeral degree. Once again, I reside in the area of my birth, and my funeral home is located in the city where I attended church before I moved out west. My western cousins and their families have all moved here as well.
For the past 14 years, each Sunday as I enter our church, I see my aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends in attendance. I even see my western cousins there too. My western cousin Jack always greets me with a smile and a hug. He greets my husband and children the same way. This past Sunday things were different. My western cousin Jack passed away last week. As I entered the church, he was not there to greet me or hug me.
Yesterday was the first Sunday in 14 years that I have not hugged my cousin Jack. I saw his widow and her granddaughters sitting in a pew near the back of the church. I embraced them and offered my condolences. They graciously accepted them and said they would be okay. I thought about that for a while and realized I would be okay too.
My cousin Jack died this past week, but because he hugged me and told me that he loved me every Sunday for the past 14 years, I know that it is fact. Jack loved me and he made sure every week that I knew it. Now that he is gone, I do not worry about being sad. I know that there will be moments when I walk into the church and think, “Oh no, Jack is gone.” My heart, however, will not be broken and I will not cry, because Jack took the time to make sure before his death that I knew I was loved. What foresight he had. The great blessing of love, that he shared with me before his death, has given me the great blessing of comfort after it.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a Certified Grief Counselor (GC-C), Funeral Director (FDIC), published author, syndicated columnist, and co-founder of the “Mikey Joe Children’s Memorial” and Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and Grief BRIEFs related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award.
It is my life’s work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
For additional encouragement, read other articles or watch video “Grief Briefs,” please go to my website at www.MourningCoffee.com.