Hey look at you, all brave, choosing to read something with that kind of title. :)
One thing I learned is that the last thing you want to do when you have to plan a funeral, is plan a funeral. When I was pregnant with Maya, as my due date was approaching I started calling cemeteries and speaking with possible funeral directors about the logistics. I learned about embalming and transporting a body, and all at the price of explaining my situation. It was just too hard so I stopped, but it became even more difficult when Maya passed away. You are faced with lots of decision making when you are seriously incapable of doing so. I felt 100% decision paralyzed. So naturally there are some things I would have done differently but what can you do?
The funeral director told us that typically people do not have a viewing for children. This made sense to me at the time, I thought it would be too hard for people to see a little one in a casket. We had a private viewing for family members before the service began. As Nate and I approached the casket at the front of the church and saw our baby girl dressed in white laying still, I was reminded of a powerful truth that I learned at the casket of my father 15 years ago, my baby girl isn't in that casket, just like what makes my dad, my dad, wasn't in his casket.
One of my tender memories from the services is gathering my boys and sweet nieces and nephew before the viewing and explaining to them why Maya looks different. Maya looks different because her spirit has left her body and she is happy and having fun with Grandpa in heaven. One of my regrets with the services is not sharing that experience with more of our dear friends. When I stood at my father's casket, I knew that he was gone, like for real where did he go? (I wondered) That is when I learned first hand that death is not the end. Someday I will be able to rejoice more than grieve the passing of Maya because I know that we will see her again. Thinking of the reunion with loved ones who have passed on before, makes me feel joy in my heart.
Maya's beautiful casket with the inscription;
Maya Grace our Mighty Girl
If you ask me, I think Maya's service was tearful but also joyful and I thought I would share it with you, cuz who doesn't like reading about funerals!? (wait...)
If you are awesome like me, you love December at church because that means Christmas hymns!!! Not only does everyone suddenly have a singing voice but they are pretty much the best hymns in the book. One of my favorites is "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," so good. As we were putting together a program for Maya, suddenly all those Christmas hymns we love so dearly fit perfectly for the occasion. The opening song was one of my favorite hymns: Away in a Manger. Even when it isn't my daughter's funeral the third verse makes me break down and pretty much sums up my prayers.
"Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven to live with thee there."George, my sweet 7 year old, gave the first talk. George prepared his talk earlier that day. Nate sat with his lap top and typed as George directed, I was standing nearby getting myself ready when I heard George explaining how he felt really strongly that he wanted to share a specific scripture (and Nate agreed to type it) and then I saw George pointing at the screen saying: "Hey this part would actually flow better over here" and then I heard Nate agree in astonishment. (I was so impressed I took a picture:) Later George would proudly share that he wrote and edited his own talk:)
This is what George shared:
"About eight months ago, my dad was telling us that our baby Maya was going to die and he was saying some really spiritual things. I don’t remember exactly what was said because it was so long ago, but I told my mom and dad that I wanted to write it down so I could teach my kids about what dad was saying.
This is what I wrote:
'It was the hardest thing my parents had ever gone through. My dad had to fire some people. The baby inside mom’s tummy was going to die. God gives us challenges to make us closer as a family. People either choose to get angry at God or get stronger.'
When Grandpa Greg died, mom wondered where people go when they die. Then missionaries came to her house and they told her where people go when they die. They go to heaven and I believe that
because of my mom and dad. If you don’t know whether something is true or not, you can ask God.
James 1:5 teaches us 'If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.'
I was very sad when I heard that Maya died. When we die we will see our relatives again because of the atonement of Jesus Christ.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."
Following George's words some of my dear friends sang Silent Night, (another Christmas hymn made even more sacred for us as we celebrated our daughter's brief life just a few days before we celebrate the birth of Christ), we could not help but think of our own tender infant as we heard the words sleep in heavenly peace.
After the song it was my turn to speak. The theme of my talk was "Small and Simple Things" which I included in the next post.
Much love and more next time...