Personal Memorial for Grandma

A fire ignited here at the center; a light in the darkness.  Hestia, let this flame burn bright as I remember my Grandma, Elizabeth (Betty) Krueger.

When we are born, we are born of the Earth, and through life cycles, our bodies must eventually return to Her.  Throughout our lives the Earth Mother supports us and nourishes us, and when the time comes for our death, She receives us.  Our bones become once more part of the Earth.  Our breath becomes the very air floating through the Starry Sky.  Earth Mother, as one of your Children returns to you, I remember all you do for us, and I honor you.

Now, I stand in the place where the land, sea, and sky meet; in the place where the navel of the world floats in the midst of the deep sea, and the brilliant fire in the sky reflects off the waters.  I stand rooted where this flame burns bright at the center, marking this space and time as sacred, and connected to all other sacred places and times. The flame brightens the waters that flow through all the lands.

There are nine streams brightened that encircle and flow through the earth.  They lead everywhere and flow through all the worlds.  Even if our dead don’t dwell in the underworld we know, those waters of the earth connect all the realms. It is in times like these especially, when we find the ways inaccessible or unnavigable, that we call to the Keeper of Ways, to the Guide of Souls, and trust that he knows the route.

Keeper of the Ways, you who part the veil and guide souls on their journey, a Child of Earth and Starry Sky calls to you now.  You know the bright path.  You know all the rivers and streams that flow between the worlds.  I honor you for the tireless work that you do.  I honor you for the bright path you maintain.  I honor you for the tears you are paid for safe passage.  Servant of the Fates, hold safe the way for me, that I may honor and remember Grandma Betty.

I call out now to the Ancestors!  Passage has been paid for Betty, and she comes to join you now.  All sacred places are connected, and so while she journeys to the afterlife that brightens for her, I know that all afterlives are brightened as another soul is welcomed.  Light the fires for her, that her way is clear.  Prepare those golden halls for her and spread wide your arms to envelop her in your warmth as she begins this new adventure.  Show her the connecting rivers that she may journey to meet with all her loved ones.  Ancestors, you of my heart and my blood and my soul, I honor you as you greet Betty.

Grandma, even though the spark of life has gone out, it has ignited hundreds of thousands of fires.  All of the lives touched by that spark: ignited.  Everywhere that flame burns, there is a memory.  And with each memory, life is remembered and honored.  I will speak of you and remember you, so that you may live on in our hearts and memories.  Your flame will continue to burn long after the kindling spark is gone.  So, Grandma Betty, drink of the waters of memory, as we remember you, and pass on your stories:

Betty, my grandma, was someone who throughout most of my life growing up, I had only minimal contact with.  She lived in Florida, and later Mississippi, and we lived in Ohio.  I feel like I really got to know parts of her during my first year of college. I moved away from home, and didn’t have any friends who went to the same school as me (most of them were younger).  She started writing to me (real, live, snail-mail!), and enjoying that connection, I started writing back.  She’s one of the few people who I’ve had actual letter-writing mail correspondence with, and that’s a feeling that all the social media, texting, and emails can’t really replace.  We sent each other little things we found that we thought may interest or be useful to the other: newspaper articles, post-cards, pictures. She sent me super comfy and fluffy shoes right as the weather turned cold.  I feel like I got to know her. I found out she had a whole corner of her room full of pictures of me.  She saved letter I had written her.  My parents brought some of them back from the funeral.  She shared stores about her time in school and traveling when she was younger.  I learned some of her stories, and shared mine with her as they were happening.

The love that exists in you, Grandma, overflows these rivers that connect all the worlds.  The waters of the Earth flow through us all just as they flow through Her.  As your life once again mingles with Her, I know that I can be connected back to those waters, ignited by your spark and brightened your love.

Ancestors, as these stories are shared, I know that you will come to know Betty.  I know you will welcome her warmly amongst you and teach her the ways of connecting back to those who remember, as I always will.  And for that I thank you.

And now, Keeper of the Ways, you who have held safe the path for me, I ask that as I leave this space you help Betty settle into her afterlife.  Guide of Souls, for your unfailing skill as you navigate this path, and for your safe passage, I thank you.

Earth Mother, you who support us, nourish us, and welcome us back to you when the time has come, I thank you.  I honor you always because in this never-ending cycle you are who I love, and who I love is you.

So finally, Hestia, this flame is extinguished here on my hearth, though it always burns bright and strong in my heart.  I know when I rekindle it I am once again connected to all sacred place and time.

Grief is…

Loss is weird. It is silencing. It is listening. It is support. it is grieving. It is numb. It is every emotion rushing back in to fill that void all at once. It is ripples. It is a network. It is the darkness. It is a flickering spark. It is empty. It is full. It is shock. It is heavy.

The world lost a beautiful soul this weekend. Bess was a flame that shone so brightly that you could see her glow, and feel her light whenever Anna Gail spoke of her. I heard stories about her long before I met her. I had that pleasure when she came to Columbus last year. She scooped up Tally, and played with her, and loved her like family. Her bright heart and bright spirit and unfailing courage are phenomenal, and will be dearly missed. As Traci has declared: when we do something brave, from here on out, we will be “pulling a Bess.”

When I went to the memorial on Sunday night, I was not expecting to speak. I didn’t think I had the words to do it, everything felt numb and empty. I did. I don’t remember what I said. Not exactly. I know when I called to the Spirits of the Land I called them all. I called to the laughter of our loved ones in the trees. I called to the breath of our loved ones in the wind. I called to the tears of our loved ones in the rain. I called to the warmth of our loved ones in the sun. I called to the Earth, who cradles us all, always.

As the ripples from her death spread, like a shockwave, I recognize the numbness I felt at first, the shock. And now, as the dust is settling I’m seeing how much has been knocked down, and shattered. As this tragedy spreads through our family and community, please take a moment to read this, giving you some words to say (and not say).  Additionally, there is some good information here on supporting those in grief.