3 Things - Part III

The third thing death taught me is Compassion. The story I want to share is just one of the many ways I was shown this lesson.

His body was in Austin for the autopsy. I received paperwork from the funeral home that I needed to read, sign, notarize and return. All of that had to be completed in order for the cremation to commence.

This transaction would erase my late husband's earthly physical footprint. I was told there was a wait at the crematorium. For crying out loud! Really!? How many people are waiting around to get cremated? I needed the papers signed + returned so that he could be placed in queue. Now that was a foreign concept to digest.

I drove to my local credit union and sat in the car signing the remaining pages in my stack. I gathered my things and made my way into the lobby. This was one of my first outings since everything happened. I didn’t walk the same. I was slow. Every step was labored. I know I looked like a shell of a woman. At least I was clean. My face was broken out terribly though. And I smelled like an ashtray most likely. Not sure I had on any make up.

I signed in. In the space where it requested which service needed I wrote – notary. Soon my name was spoken with a thick accent. My eyes landed upon a blonde woman who looked mean as hell. Oh my.

I followed her around the corner of the service desk. She stood about 6 feet tall. I was uneasy. I thought…

“Hi, yes, can you please notarize this paperwork so I can get my dead husband’s remains sent back to me lickety split? Thank you.”

It was just weird. Uncomfortable. And incredibly sad.

I watched her read the first page. The hardness in her face softened. That was ok (unlike the pity oozing from the detective who had interviewed me days prior). She flipped through the pages and began asking questions. I looked at her. I did not speak a word. Tears poured down my face. She grabbed my hand and took me to her office.

After closing her door she opened a cabinet and pulled out a small ratty-looking book with post-its sticking out and bookmarks all through it. She put the book in my hand. It was her Bible. She opened it and turned to a passage that speaks of God taking care of widows and being a Father to the fatherless.

I just nodded. I couldn’t see with all the tears. She pushed a tissue box to the corner of the desk so I could reach. I sopped up the goo all over my face and she finished the paperwork. I mumbled thank you and she hugged me.

Compassion like this carried me through the nightmare. Gone are the days of judging someone for looking like a complete disaster, questioning someone's mental state or thinking I am somehow untouchable. I was the scary looking, lost woman. And many, many people took me in and cared for me like this stranger did. I am forever thankful and will continue to share the love by paying it forward.

And here we are more than seven years later. That’s more than 61,000 hours of experience with grief, loss and re-creating a totally wrecked life. I daydreamed about being the woman I am today. I didn't think she could ever be me.

I’ve raised two children out of toddler years and practically elementary school and into middle school by myself. I left corporate America after more than 15 years and began my own marketing business. I kept us fed; in our home; dated; loved again; chartered adventures like moving to Mexico for a month and remarried this past summer to the love of my life. And beyond all of those survive and thrive twists and turns, which are momentous...

TODAY, I am a grief guide with the sole focus of helping other people after loss or a catastrophic experience find healing and a new way forward.

Today my heart is for the living who love the dying...the living who mourn their lost ones. I see death as an invitation and I am a messenger….

  • Live in PRESENCE

  • Practice PATIENCE

  • Let COMPASSION flow

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.” -Rumi

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Photo credit: Kari Shea