So Many Goodbyes

Source: vocationnetwork.org

Each morning, I open our local daily paper to the inside back page; that is where the obituaries are published. This morning, another familiar face was there. A Victorian Order Nurse who was a member of my church community and a woman of deep faith. Lois O’Reilly and I had been casually acquainted for many years and I knew her health had been failing, but every encounter was treasured. It had been quite a few months since I had last seen her, and now, I would be attending her wake and funeral.

Lois was a woman who encouraged many people in her quiet, steadfast way. How fortunate for me that I was one of those who received the gift of her friendship. That is one of the gifts we receive by being a regular member of a parish; support and encouragement from other parishioners.

As we age, we will naturally have to attend many wakes and funerals. Most of us who have reached the seventh decade have already said our good-byes to grandparents, parents and even, some of our siblings. Now we are losing many of our close friends.

For believers, we trust that those who are graduating to a new life on the “other side” will be gifted by reunions with other family members and friends in spirit. We are happy to pray for them as they transition from this life through to eternity; prayer is the final gift we can give to them.

Let us be grateful for our parish community. In smaller cities, we can more easily become acquainted with our neighbours, and the list of people we know can be extensive. How wonderful for their grieving families when people take the time to visit the funeral home as well as attend the funeral. One of the blessings of retirement is the availability of time to make this important gesture of friendship.

I did not know the children of Lois, but I am looking forward to telling them what a wonderful friend she was to my life. No doubt they will hear this from many friends, and it will help to heal their grieving hearts.

One way that God provides His love for us is through the people who brighten our days, encourage our dreams and offer their friendship. Let us all try harder to take the time to thank them while they are still with us, and especially, make the effort for that final farewell through the prayers that we will say on their behalf once they have passed.

Joan Levy Earle is an author and artist living in Cornwall, Ontario. She is the former Associate Editor of the Canadian Messenger of the Sacred Heart magazine.

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4 Comments
  • Lorella D'Cruz
    Posted at 03:48h, 06 May Reply

    This is a beautiful piece on the mutual blessings of friendship. Lois’s children will be grateful to hear how she brightened your day when you met. As you also remind us, the world is a happier place when we take the opportunity to show our appreciation to family and friends while we still have them with us. Thank you, Joan.

  • Peggy Spencer
    Posted at 05:54h, 06 May Reply

    A beautiful, thoughtful and a gentle reminder for me to ‘keep in touch’ with old friends, those who have moved away or who are no longer able to keep in touch themselves. I guess we can at least keep them all in our thoughts and prayers.

  • darcy Mann
    Posted at 08:33h, 06 May Reply

    I offer my condolences Joan, on the passing of your friend Lois.. Sounds like she was a very nice lady. I,m not sure if you were aware that Shelley was a V.O.N. for several years. She always said it was a very fulfilling job….. Take care.

  • Caroline Maloney
    Posted at 13:27h, 07 May Reply

    Thank you so much for this rich reflection, Joan; reminding us of the importance and special gift those people in our small parishes really are.
    That has become so real now that there are no services, or gatherings in our parish with Covid, or opportunities to meet and greet.
    Being in the parish choir, when asked to be present at funerals for those in the parish, we truly realize what a great gift these people are, and the strong influence they have on our day to day life. Thank you!

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