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Next week is Thanksgiving, and I’d like to talk to all of us who have lost loved ones during the past year. I have personally lost my husband, the husbands of two very dear friends and many of my childhood friends this year – some just very recently. All of our families are going to have a difficult time as we go through the upcoming holidays that will be the first ones without our loved ones.
I cannot fathom how many of you reading this column are part of this group, too. So many people have died in the last 12-18 months from natural causes like old age, automobile accidents, drug overdoses, suicide, and the dreaded “Cs” – Cancer and COVID-19, or connections to them.
Regardless of the way we lost our family members and friends, they are gone from us here on earth. I hope and pray they are all with our Heavenly Father and we will see them again. And, THIS is what I have struggled with the most.
Take time to sit down with your family and have a conversation about your beliefs and relationship with God. Let them KNOW you are saved and that you are prepared to die at any moment. Don’t let them guess or wonder – regardless if you are a regular church goer or not, please share this very personal but very important information with your family – and close friends.
While I knew my husband was a believer, we never had the conversation specifically about being saved. I struggled with the fear that he would not be in Heaven when I got there, and I didn’t know what I’d do if that happened.
Several friends and family members; plus our pastor, Jeff Fuller; assured me they had had discussions that made them feel he had made it to Heaven and would be there waiting for me. I am now at peace with that and look forward to that day.
I don’t mean to get “preachy” with this, but I hope you will consider these thoughts as you gather with friends and family during the holiday season we are going into. It can be a difficult discussion to start, but it will be well worth it if a family member dies and you don’t have the reassurance – or if you die and your family members are left with no assurance.
And, don’t be afraid to talk to your family about what you want done if you should die. They may not necessarily agree with what you want, but they should hopefully follow your instructions. It takes the decision making off of them during a time when it is very hard to remember details or conversations.
My husband and I had talked about and decided to be cremated from the very beginning of our marriage, and we had told our children and friends. We even had instructions in our will just in case.
But, we had never discussed a burial of any type. After his memorial service I found out he was eligible to be buried (or have his ashes interred) in any National Cemetery because of his U.S. Navy service. Our best friend Terry Wilson was with me, and we both realized how honored Larry would be because he was so very proud of his military service. And I (my ashes) can also be buried there with him when my time comes! This decision made two of our sons VERY happy.
So, next Friday while our grandson Sean is home from the U.S. Navy for Thanksgiving, we will have Larry’s ashes (or some of them) buried with Military Honors at the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo. Some of you may remember that one of our boys had emergency back surgery on the day of his memorial service in January so this will be very special for him – and he is a veteran. After the fact, I found out the other son needed a “place” to visit, so this service will provide him more closure, too.
I’m not really sure where this topic came from, but it’s what came out when I sat down at the computer. Maybe this message is for one of you reading this. Maybe it’s for me to let my feelings out so I can move to the next step in my grieving journey – and it IS a journey of emotions. And, maybe it’s for one of you who might need to find a relationship with God. I cannot explain the peace I found when my church reopened and I could be surrounded by my church family.
Everyone please take time to count your many blessings and be thankful for your family and friends. Put your current problems to the side and concentrate on the many wonderful people you have in your life – and then TELL them how special they are. Don’t leave words unsaid. God bless you all.