A Beautiful Day at Tahoma National Cemetery

7 03 2009

Hello friends – welcome to my world!

I’m excited to begin my own unique journey into the “blogosphere”, as I describe my experiences walking with families through the process of planning and facilitating Celebrations of Life Gatherings (funerals, memorials, burials, etc.).  I love observing life and how each of us influences so many other lives in many ways.  There are so many things I learn by observing these gatherings, and I hope to share them with you as well.  Here goes…

This afternoon I visited Tahoma National Cemetery where I had the privilege of taking part in a burial service there.  Each time I participate in one of these I am struck by the beauty of the grounds and the clockwork precision with which the services are conducted.  It is also an emotionally moving experience to observe how the men and women who serve our country are honored and dignified in being layed in their final resting places.  Enlisted men and women are provided with full military honors in keeping with their respective branches of their services; this usually includes a color guard that folds and presents the United States flag to the next of kin, a “21 gun salute” (which actually is 3 volleys fired into the air, rarely if ever actually 21 guns), and the playing of “taps” at the service conclusion.  It is an amazing experience to behold; one that I thoroughly enjoy each time I attend.  The dependent spouse is, upon their death, provided by the government with a burial space as well and the shelter area with which to have a brief service, only without the military honors that those enlisted share.

One of the things I enjoy doing during a typical gathering is to give those in attendance the opportunity to speak in tribute in an “open floor” sort of format.  When people speak up, it is most always about the things that really matter most; not the possessions and money the deceased had but issues of relationship and investment in the lives of others.   These are the important issues of life, the things that live on in the memories of those we leave behind.  I enjoy hearing all these stories, from the sometimes “edgy” funny, gut-laughter moments to the more serious expressions of issues such as character, faith, and integrity.  Each of these expressions has a place in a Celebration of Life Gathering, and become an important part in the grief process.

Today was no exception; funny stories, serious reflections, tears…I love hearing more about the person we are honoring and how they impacted the lives around them.  And in taking part I too am influenced.

I love this journey!