My dear Uncle Noel passed this morning. He is the Uncle I always felt closest to (and there are many Uncles in my family). He is also the last uncle I had left in this plane. My dad is the last of their generation in my family to still be here sharing this life with us. All of these circumstances bring up a lot of emotions and thoughts for me. One being, as you would imagine, “what happens when we transition?”

Here is what I believe:

~We choose when we transition. This makes total sense to me when it comes to those whom have lived long, full lives. For those that appear to have transitioned early, it is harder to grasp this belief. But if it is true for one, it is true for all. This idea of “choice” removes any thoughts of my loved one being a victim. Whether it is true or not I can’t say for sure but this possibility brings me comfort.

~Where do they go? I recall watching a movie about Temple Grandin. She is an amazing human being with Autism. In the movie, on three occasions where she is confronted with death she asks “where do they go?” She has an awareness that they are no longer here with us, but somewhere. There seems to be more curiosity to her question than a feeling of loss. What I love about this is that she seems to be aware that they are “somewhere, just not here.” I believe this too. I don’t know where we go when we transition but I DO believe we are somewhere, just not here in our physical bodies. Our essence lives on.

~Love never dies. It is through our love and joy for others that they live on, in, and through us. We can choose to focus on our loss or celebrate the love and joy we shared. Many times it is a combination of the two. I believe that our loved ones never leave us. They live on in our hearts and minds. The love we have shared has simply changed in form, from physical to spiritual.

~Mourning is a personal journey. I remember my brother speaking at my mom’s funeral. He shared his experience of driving to the funeral home, looking up at the blue sky and thinking “she’s gone.” I wanted to jump up and tell him “no she’s not, she’s everywhere!” His experience was of loss, mine was of expansion. Naturally I have felt the loss of being able to share experiences with my mom here in physical form, yet I have also felt that she is always here with me, celebrating, comforting and loving. It is my hope that my cousins feel this same “allness” in the coming days.

Lastly, I believe that what we believe determines our experience. Years ago I was hanging with family. Probably playing cards or some other game. My brother (whom has remained in the Catholic faith) said something. I can’t remember what it was but it was something kind of shocking, and I jokingly said “Ohhhhh, you’re going to Hell for that one!” He responded “I thought you didn’t believe in hell” and I shot back “I don’t, but YOU do.” We all got a good belly laugh out of that exchange! I believe there is some truth to it though. Our experience of life AND death is determined by what we put our faith in to. I affirm that life goes on, that love carries it, and our loved ones are as near as a thought.

Thinking of you today Uncle Noel! You are loved and alive in our hearts. Today and forever.

by Mary Loughman