Yesterday I went to a beautiful funeral for my 90 year old neighbour. I was very moved by the service in a 12th century church and by the things that the vicar said and it left me pondering my beliefs about any afterlife, all day:
I believe that we will see our loved ones again when we die, in some form of heaven. I will not know for sure if that is true until I myself die, but I cannot accept that once we pass away, there is a black hole of nothingness for an eternity. I cannot explain how it will work, but my parents souls, rather than their physical bodies, are looking over me, every day. I take comfort from the appearance of robins, butterflies and rainbows, taking them all as natural signs of their presence. If I am wrong, then who does it hurt if it brings me comfort as I grieve? I also expect to be reunited with all of our beloved pets when I die, as how can it be a true heaven, if all of our precious dogs and cats are not there waiting to greet us again?
The vicar yesterday moved me by reading a poem called ‘The Ship’ that I had never heard before, and given that our neighbour was a sailor until into his 80s, it was particularly appropriate:
“I am standing upon the sea shore. A Ship at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
then someone at my side says , ‘There she is gone.’
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And she is just as able to ber her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me – not her.
and just at that moment when someone says ‘There she is gone’
there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout ‘here she comes!’
And that is dying…. ( Bishop Brent)
The vicar added ” Here He comes, Daphne” to his late wife, and of course, I sobbed.
My Mum had attended his wife’s Daphne’s funeral back in 2018, in the same church – the church incidentally where the couple were married 60 years ago. It gave me comfort and strength to know that Mum had sat in those same pews and probably also shed some tears, 4 years ago. I am so pleased that I went along yesterday as it gave me a real sense of peace all day long.