Goodbyes and Reunions…

Thank you, thank you, to all of you who have prayed for my family during this time in our lives. I really appreciate your kind words of comfort and encouragement and I have felt your prayers. Blessings on you for sharing in our sorrow and rejoicing in our joy that our mom is with our Lord.

There were many times during my mom’s services and burial that the comment was made amongst old friends that it was too bad that it seems the only time we see each other these days is at a funeral. The older we get the stronger this reality.

I want to warn you ahead of time that we had an old world burial and if you get squeamish around caskets and viewings this post probably isn’t for you.

2013-09-28 Mom's servicesThursday night viewing at Rose Hills Chapel. Many old friends came to share in our sorrow and rejoice in our hope. My brother Steve gave a message that made me consider God’s hand on the story of my life on this earth.

2013-09-28 Mom's services2Friday morning we had a memorial service at my sister’s church in Whittier, California. It was a time of remembering who my mom was and a time of thanking God for who He is in my mom’s life and ours. Brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews and great grand children participated in speaking, singing, reciting Psalms 23 and praying. Our nephew Caleb opened the service with greetings and prayer. Our sister Kathy and our BIL Len sang a duet in Russian of a song my mom requested.  Our niece Hope and Great nephew Jackson read the 23rd Psalm. Our son Josh and my nephew, David shared memories of their Baba that they gathered from their cousins. Our niece Michelle sang the first verse of “It is well with my soul” (Baba’s request) and the congregation joined in on the rest of the song. Our BIL Len led us all in singing with great enthusiasm. Our brother Leonard shared my mom’s eulogy with tears and laughter in Russian and English. Our family and friends from Bethany Baptist Russian church joined together for an impromptu singing of “Bless Thou the Lord”. My brother Steve gave the short and insightful message challenging us to see heaven as the place where we will see God and our Savior face to face as our reward. My nephews Levi and Joe led us in “Because He Lives” as the finale to our time.

2013-09-28 Mom's services3Eight of my mom’s grandsons were the pallbearers.

2013-09-28 Mom's services1We gathered around our Pop, Dzeda to comfort him and support him throughout the services.

2013-09-28 Mom's services4We met at the graveside and participated in my mom’s burial.

Mom's services 074

2013-09-28 Mom's services5My mom’s daughter’s, granddaughters, great granddaughter, and nieces placed a long stemmed pink rose on her casket before it was lowered into the grave.

Mom's services 095

Mom's services 114In the old world tradition starting with my father and my siblings we all took a clump of earth and threw it in the grave upon the coffin.

2013-09-28 Mom's services6We sang in Russian and English while the son’s, grandson’s, nephews and old friends of my mom’s used shovels to fill the grave with dirt.

2013-09-28 Mom's services8

2013-09-28 Mom's services9We find this tradition of participating in the burial to be comforting and honoring and we leave knowing that we did this act in love.

Mom's services 128Our son Dan with Dear.

Mom's services 138Josh and Laura

Mom's services 137My cousins on my father’s side of the family with their spouses.

Mom's services 110The newest member of our extended family.

Mom's services 142It was now time to head back to the church for our meal together. Friday was a very clear day in Southern California standards at Rose Hills. We could see all the way to Downtown Los Angeles. Rose Hills Memorial Park is the largest cemetery in the United States and is located in Whittier, California.

In my next post I’ll continue with the good times around the tables over our meal enjoying doing a little catch up with friends from our childhood.

It’s good to be home again. We are still trying to get our bodies on our West Coast clock instead of our British clock. I think a nice full week at home will do the trick. We left a very sunny Southern California and arrived to a rainy blustery Northwest. Hope all is well in your neck of the woods.

16 thoughts on “Goodbyes and Reunions…

  1. Thank you for sharing these precious photos. Glimpses of a loving family saying a heartfelt goodbye. Bless you Ellen as you recover from your travels, plus mourn the passing of your dear Mother.

  2. Hi Ellen,

    I have been thinking of and praying for your family these last few days. Reading your post brought tears to my eyes — I am touched to see so many of your Mom’s legacies gather to remember and honor her. Hope your Dad is holding up alright…

  3. Thank you for sharing your mom’s memorial with us. Although we are so sad for you, we are glad that the funeral was an opportunity for fond remembrance, for reuniting with those not seen for a while, and for joy in knowing your mom has reached the final destination in her life’s journey. To be with Jesus and live eternally – nothing can top that!

  4. Thank you for sharing these precious and lovingly meaningful and tender moments with us. Sorrow and joy running together and the reality of eternal hope…our home in glory. Gathering together as family and friends over this weekend must have been such a blessing to you Pop and you all. Because He Lives…..you and I can face tomorrow. That was the final song at my mom’s celebration of life service too. Your mom will be missed…hugs.

  5. Thank you for your posts… so well done … and while I feel your loss and sorrow, your hope and strength in each other and in God comes across so well… What a grand legacy your Mom has left. She will not be forgotten…. until you meet her again !
    So thankful for the hope we have in God ! hugs to you and to you dear Dad !

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  7. I think these rituals and participating in the laying to rest of a loved one is something our modern society has lost. It all brings closure and a realization of life’s mortality, along with the hope we have in God our Father for eternity. Thank you for sharing these moments with us, Ellen.

  8. All the meaningful touches, words, songs…
    The circle of life comes to mind: how we have bed time rituals for our littlest ones and final “to rest” rituals as we say farewell to our oldest family members. I feel for families who have no ritals, who leave the grieving season for each person to figure out. It strikes me as interesting that most people have a need to light a candle and bring flowers somewhere but are at a loss as to why everything still seems incomplete.
    Your mother’s rituals seemed comforting and caring and embroidered with her essence too.

  9. Thank you for sharing this part if the story, too. I know that you felt the comfort of The Lord and I am praying for your father as he moves along this path of grieving and for you all.

  10. The way in which you laid your beloved mom to rest is very much how I am used to it as well.
    Part of the healing happens right there at the graveside with those who loved her surrounding you, praying for you and together realizing their own mortality and blessed hope we have. In the years to come, you will go back to this post and still feel the comfort of those who mourned with you.

  11. What a legacy of family, love and faith your mother left for the world. Her smile, in all your photos over the years, was always so beautiful, and I am sure that this is one of the many treasured memories you’ll have as you move forward and take on the mantle of the older generation. Your family’s traditions for burial make so much sense – what a wonderful support to your father and an example to the children.

  12. Very nice post and memories for later. I found it amusing that you called the burial ” old world”. I grew up with the same method, and while many Mennonite families here in southern Manitoba already choose the “newer” method it’s surprising how many still prefer the traditional one like you described. More personal for many but also brings more closure to most. So, it’s not old for us here, yet. Very powerful for me.

  13. I like the Old World way of the filling of the grave being done by the family. It’s important for comfort and closure for the family.

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