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March 10, 2006

Farewell to a father

Mausi and her family today said a final farewell to her father. His ashes have now been interred and the family must now adjust to a gap in it's ranks. This will not be easy to do, since the "missing man" will always be present in little reminders, little momentos and the occassional sense of presence.

Many people who have not gone through this experience think that a funeral provides closure, an end and a closing of doors. It doesn't. The gap is always present in the hearts and minds of those who continue in this life, and, while it becomes less painful with time, one is always conscious of the absence of someone you could share something with, have a joke with or simply be with. For a husband or wife it is even more pointed at the moment when, some weeks after a funeral, everyone assumes that you are coping and can now "get on" without their help. That is often when the real pain hits for the first time.

I believe that one important reason why we miss the absent member so much is that we are very much creatures created by those we interact with, relate too or have grown up with. Our parents in particular are instrumental in bringing us into this world, but in a veryt real sense they are also the instruments by which we are formed in the formation of our characters and personality. It is their rebuffs which harden us, their open love that warms us and their laughter that inspires us. As John Donne wrote, "if a promotory were to fall into the sea and be washed away, Europe is the less"; just so with us, if a friend depart from this life we are ourselves reduced by that departure, since we no longer have that interaction, and inspiration to enlarge our own horizons.

Consider the epitaph to Sir Christopher Wren in St Paul's Cathedral in London: it translates as "If you seek his monument, look about you." That is also true of every individual who has played a role in our own growth and development. If you seek their monument - look in a mirror. You are as much a reflection of all who have played a part in your life as you are in theirs.

Reinhard has left this life for another, but a part of him remains in his daughters and in his wife. He will walk among them as long as they live.

Pray my brothers and sisters, that this family will know and feel the comfort of God's loving presence through the days ahead, that everytime they feel the absence of their father, they will know he is still there with them awaiting them in due time.

Posted by The Gray Monk at March 10, 2006 08:07 PM

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