On the surface a picture of an entire generation of a family is a wonderful thing. The picture is a wonderful thing. The picture doesn’t tell us what brings them all together. The smiling faces don’t tell us the emotions under the surface. The flowers in the front could be a clue, signaling a party. I guess at its most basic level, it was a party, but not one we wanted to be invited to, nor have. This party was the celebration of my father’s life and passing. These are the people who called him “Opa,” another word for Grandfather.
Even when our hearts are breaking, we put a smile on our faces. Those loved ones who live far and wide come together for major life events, like a funeral. They can have a moment of comfort being with others who understand. But grief isn’t really shared. We keep our grief inside.
Some people set about moving on with determination, keeping busy and immersing themselves into jobs and responsibilities that never stop. Some people want to cling to memories, and spend hours looking over pictures, fondling possessions, and talking to who ever will listen. Some people write with tears over pages of all the memories and pain of their loss. Sometimes grief never seems to end, but remains below the surface, waiting for a turn of weather, a scent, a yellow flower or bluebird, something that triggers a memory and with it a longing for the one not with us.
You have heard that elephants never forget. Elephants will stay at the side of a dying relative and linger after death, but eventually they must make the choice to move on or they will die along side their relative. Those who move on, will continue to mourn and visit the grave every time they pass.
Like the elephant we also need to move on through life, but that doesn’t mean forget.