Today a Mexican Cross to remember Chris by, because later this morning, Sydney time, his family who are dear to my heart will bury him. They are a large Catholic family just like the one I grew up in and now he, one of the six siblings, is gone.
If anything like our family – richly, vibrantly and sadly, now that he is not here, his absence will define clearly who he was and where he fitted in. His jigsaw piece in the grand picture puzzle of who the family is, will now come into sharp relief, causing its own further round of grief and deep lament. And the long tail of losing him will cast its shadow for years to come.
His family will come out of their grief bubble soon, to attend his funeral. A wife will be forced to confront the implications of his death and his children, on the cusp of adulthood, will now have to accept, like it or not, that his death will be part of what shapes and defines them as they take their place in the world.
Making the adjustment will be a jarring assault for everyone.
I’m on the other side of the world, in Portugal, engaged in family business of my own, so I can’t be there. So instead, I’m posting a photo of the Cross my cousin Suzanne brought back from Mexico. Apart from its symbolism of resurrection, very important to my friends now, it has similar artistic elements to those of the country I am in now. So it creates a comforting connection for me to my friends and their grief, while I am so far away.
A short while after Suzanne gave the Cross to me, it dropped and broke. I didn’t know what to do. But I got a piece of cardboard and stuck all the pieces to it. Strangely, it became more beautiful then. When I looked at the Cross it was now imperfect. But its flaws made it more real, more textured, more like every human being.
We step back, we know there are flaws in the person we love and where they are and what they cost. But we look past these and see the person’s beauty. And this is the eternity that we carry in the long tail of our grief over the loss of them.
His many cousins will feel grief too. See: https://good-grief.com.au/saying-goodbye-to-a-cousin/
Seasons for Growth runs a program which helps young people cope with grief. It has the name Good Grief (not to be confused with this site!) To see more about their work, go to: https://www.goodgrief.org.au/about-us