Your death fills me up with sadness, Sweetheart, I let go.
Your life filled me with such gladness, you will never know.
I embrace you and release you, Sweetheart, I let go.

          Your Beloved has died, and life will never be the same. Ann
          Keeler Evans, M.Div., will help you design a meaningful
          celebration in memory of this extraordinary life. She'll work
          closely with you so that the ceremony can accurately reflect
          who your Beloved was and will always be in your heart. Let
          us construct a ceremony together that will support you

      Before your ceremony
          as you struggle to understand the finality of death and
          remember the sweetness of the life that has ended
      During the ceremony
          as you invite the community to remember and mourn
      After your ceremony
          with a cache of stories that will comfort and please you,
          not only as you mourn and say goodbye, but your whole life long.

Find comfort in the planning. Reconstruct the story of the life and death of your beloved. Think about what he loved and how to represent that at the ceremony. Remember her hospitality and make the ceremony a warm reflection of her gifts. Gather pieces of this precious life together to form a focus for your mourning.

Begin the healing process by telling your story. We must tell our story of shock and pain many times before we can begin to heal. A memorial service is one of the places for you to do that. There will be people there who want to hear what you know about the life and death of this wonderful person. Telling your story, you can begin to heal. You can also begin to practice keeping your loved one's story alive.

Draw strength and comfort from this gathering. There are so many things you feel when someone important to you dies: grief, gratitude, joy, reflection. A well-structured memorial can help you stay open to those feelings as they wash over you. The people who loved the deceased and the people who love you are gathered around to mourn and to celebrate the life of this wonderful person. In their presence you can recount your emotions and begin to heal.

Create a History to Treasure Forever. This life touched yours in so many ways. It is always good for those who come after to understand just how the deceased shaped and informed your life and that of others. It is helpful to know that there are those who knew your Beloved intimately so that in the future when you're mourning, you can call someone else to share your sorrow and joy. In this way you keep alive the spirit of the one who has gone on. In this way you can keep learning about the person who brought you so much. Make a web site or a book or a tape of the stories and pictures and objects that are gathered for the memorial and share them with all who knew and loved this wonderful individual.

Lean on my faith in family and community. In addition to my knowledge and skill with ritual, you can count on my deep faith in the power of the community to support and heal. We are community to one another: sometimes we need to learn how to be helpful and supportive, but we want nothing more than to be present to each other. Ritual is a formal structure that allows that to happen. It can also be a place where we learn to offer the support we most want to give and to accept the support we most dearly need.

  1998-2003 Ann Keeler Evans. All Rights Reserved.