“The dead are not distant or absent. They are alongside us. When we lose someone to death, we lose their physical image and presence, they slip out of visible form into invisible presence. This alteration of form is the reason we cannot see the dead. But because we cannot see them does not mean that they are not there. Transfigured into eternal form, the dead cannot reverse the journey and even for one second re-enter their old form to linger with us a while. Though they cannot reappear, they continue to be near us and part of the healing of grief is the refinement of our hearts whereby we come to sense their loving nearness. When we ourselves enter the eternal world and come to see our lives on earth in full view, we may be surprised at the immense assistance and support with which our departed loved ones have accompanied every moment of our lives. In their new, transfigured presence their compassion, understanding and love take on a divine depth, enabling them to become secret angels guiding and sheltering the unfolding of our destiny.”
– JOHN O’DONOHUE
Death is an undeniable part of life, a truth I’m acutely aware of as I observe it in my surroundings as of late. Last year, my dear Aunt Polly, aged 91, passed away. She held onto the hope that we’d celebrate Christmas together, a wish unfulfilled as she would have turned 92 last week.
It’s surreal to acknowledge her absence. Her voice resonates in my mind—steady, filled with curiosity, and alive with grace. Her essence is eternally etched in my memory. Remarkably, someone once remarked that I sound like her; perhaps, in a way, she lives on through me.
I possess tangible remnants of her presence—her purse, scarves, and an abundance of cherished memories. Her legacy endures.
Yet, the ache of her physical absence persists, the yearning to pose more questions, especially about her legacy. In our last interactions, I intentionally inquired about her life’s imprint, capturing a fleeting moment in a brief video. Her resilience shone even as she faced her hardest challenge—losing her son just months before. Much like a tree, she stood centered in the face of adversity.
Contemplating death compels me to seize every moment, considering my own mortality and impact on this earth. What if today was my last day? How would I choose to behave? In what ways could I contribute positively to the lives of those around me? How might I prioritize the things that truly matter, shedding the trivial concerns that occupy our time?