The Light Goes On
Happy Birthday to me! I am starting this new blog on the day I was born, which to many others is Tax Day. No one seems to send me money on my birthday, yet it is a day of new beginnings and self-reflection. Now with Facebook, it seems to be an opportunity as well to count how many people are actually celebrating or remembering you are alive. Often when we are facing grief, any day of celebration can also a reminder that our loved one is no longer physically with us. Time moving forward may represent the harsh reality that life as it continues is now without the special person who owns a piece of your heart. I must admit that after 20 years life has moved on from the sadness of the grief moments associated with my parents’ deaths and dwells more in the ongoing spiritual connection I feel with them. Years ago, while working in hospice, I wrote a song called Light A Candle. It was a song used during candle lighting ceremonies many grief support groups would have to honor the life of their loved ones. Support Groups such as the Compassionate Friends would hold conferences and as a part of the healing ceremony gather to say the names and light up the room with the lights of little candles, many tears, and support to one another. I sang at many candle lightings and still am humbled as I reflect on the day the song was penned. Taking a quiet moment to hold our loved one and create a simple ceremony can offer a special time where we continue a relationship with our loved one. I remember a bereaved dad telling me he would come to the kitchen table every Saturday morning and have a cup of coffee and light a candle for his son. Saturday mornings had always been a catch-up time to spend together and this weekly time of gentle ritual was meaningful for holding the heart and soul in place as he grieved and held his son close.
As we grieve there is no perfect way or remedy for survival. Yet finding moments which soothe and hold the heart and soul connection are often powerful. When we light a candle, we of course feel it is for the person who died. We light it in memory and love. Yet if possible, the next time you light a candle also imagine your loved one is lighting a candle for you, to help you see a path, a way of hope, a road where others hold you and walk the way with you. Light is powerful and as my birthday continues and some candles will be lit, I hope you too will feel the light your loved one is holding for you. I think mom and dad are holding a cake for me, candles burning brightly with light and love. I will choose today to take a pause from the now older Paul, to let that love and light fill me with clarity and vision for this too shall pass.
Paul Alexander, LCSW-R is a psychotherapist, singer/songwriter, retreat, workshop, and concert presenter, creator of griefsong.com.
(The song Light A Candle is from the CD Light A Candle and Songs of Remembrance, available at cdbaby.com, griefsong.com, grieftoolbox.com, and centering.org. The Light A Candle gift book also includes CD single of song.)