Today, I took some time off work to support some dear friends who were burying their dear 91-year old mother to rest. It was clear from the funeral services that she had lived her life centered around all the things she loved most: Her family.
During the Homily, the priest who officiated the service took some time to describe the deceased. He had known her for a few decades. Mill Valley was her stomping ground for more than 50 years.
The priest also talked about his involvement with Hospice programs for the elderly and for those who are terminally ill. He told us that the leaving process almost always entails the Five Point Process. People can go through them over a period of six months or they can also go through it in five minutes. It varies from one individual to another, their nature, their circumstances, and their stage in life.
The Five Point Process can be summed up as follows:
- Please forgive me.
- I forgive you.
- Thank you.
- I love you.
He said that everyone seems to go through this. First, there is the desire to make peace with any family or associate a dying person may have had differences with. Then comes the resolve to let go of past hurts or resentments. It comes with the realization that at this point, there is no longer any need to hold on to them.
And then, there is the thanking of all who have loved and are loved, the blessings, the good fortunes, accomplishments, and fulfilled aspirations. For all the loved ones, there is the expression of love. This is most poignant when it has never before been expressed or when it was expressed so sparingly.
Finally, bidding farewell, the point of letting go, at best, peacefully, serenely.
I remember hearing about an uncle who was in the intensive care for about two months before he passed on. I heard that he had asked to see my parents. He and my father had not spoken for more than 30 years. They had bitter arguments over the running of our battery business back in the 70’s. At first, my father was reluctant. My mother persuaded him. After all, he too, is not well. And so, they went to the hospital. My mother later told me that my father took my uncle’s hand and they spoke for a few minutes. My uncle asked my father to forgive him. My father asked my uncle to forgive him too. It was a good visit for both of them.
I remember my mother-in-law too, when she decided that she no longer wanted any active interventions to her affliction. She did the rounds of telling all of us how much she loved us. She also said goodbye to us several times.
I want to end this post with a poem that was on the pamphlet at the funeral today. It’s a poem from the Capuchin Franciscan Friars:
GOD HAS SET ME FREE
Don’t grieve for me, now I’m free.
I’m following the path God set for me.
I saw the Light; I heard God’s call.
I wished to stay, but I had to leave it all.
I could not remain another day,
To laugh, to love, to work and play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way,
for I found great peace at the close of day.
If leaving you has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss…
Ah yes, these things, I too, will miss.
Don’t be burdened with tears and sorrow.
I wish you sunshine for tomorrow.
My life has been full.
I’ve savored so much:
Good friends, good times,
A loved one’s touch.
Perhaps my time seemed all too brief.
Don’t sadden it now with undue grief.
Lift up your hearts; share joy with me.
God called me home and set me free.