A few days ago (Saturday, July 2nd) was the anniversary of my father’s death. And I must confess that with the busy-ness of my life this past week, I did not even realize it until I saw a Facebook post from my sister talking about how much she missed him. And that made me think about the one and only time that I have ever tried to visit my father’s grave.
It was on a Memorial Day a few years ago… my mother asked if I would go with her to the cemetery. It was a breezy, sunny day… one my father would have enjoyed. I was surprised by my mother’s request at the time. You see, neither she nor I had visited this grave since my father passed away nine years before. We lived only five minutes from the cemetery (and I passed it at least once a week on my way about town), but in all of these years neither of us had gone there even once.
Out of respect for my mother’s request, I agreed. And then I found myself walking up and down the rows of gravestones, looking for where he was buried, wondering what I would do or say once we found him. I mean, I hadn’t been here in nearly nine years… what did that say for me as a grieving daughter, one who still misses the sound of his hearty “belly-laughs” and still wishes I could feel his arms around me in that bear-hug that lifted me off my feet?
The Women of the ELCA has a resource called The Faces of Grief. The opening of this resource begins by reminding us, “When we grieve, we each walk a different journey. No one can tell you how to grieve. Your process is your process.”
So, perhaps my way to grieve is not sitting at the foot of a gravestone and thinking of the day of my father’s funeral. I’d like to think that my grieving takes form when I hear one of “our” songs or when I hold a letter he wrote me in my hands and trace his “Love, Dad” with my fingers. I’d like to think that my grieving is less about a visit to the cemetery and more about pausing for a moment whenever I think of him.
We never did find the gravestone that day… but as we walked each row, we thought about James Hugh Scott… father, husband, grandfather and friend. And we felt connected to him in those moments…
As The Faces of Grief says, “What does grief look like? It comes in such a variety of colors and hues, and it wears many faces.” Mine is just one version. What is yours?
This is Intern Jennifer Michael’s final blog post. She and her pug, Squishy will be returning to Dubuque, Iowa next week to begin her final year of seminary at Wartburg Theological Seminary. She wants everyone to know how deeply grateful she is for the time she spent with our congregation at Trinity. She will be missed!