At the end of Rebecca’s memorial mass, we asked a friend to read out these honest yet comforting words.
We have gathered here in this room to acknowledge the death of Rebecca whom we have known and loved. When someone we have cared for dies, family and friends gather with sorrow in their hearts. At times when we must face death and loss, we need one another’s company for understanding and support. Just to be together, to look into one another’s faces, takes away some of our loneliness and draws our hearts together in the healing which we can offer one another. At such times, the ways that sustain us separately come together in a virtual harmony that acts across all creeds and assures us of the permanence of human goodness and hope. So we are gathered here today in grief and sorrow, but we have also gathered to celebrate a life. We have come together to give thanks we knew this vibrant person, to express our gratitude for the days and years we were able to share with her. We are here to remember and memorialize a good and caring life. By remembering the best of this person, by recalling some her finest qualities, by honoring the principles, values, and dreams which guided her life, some of Rebecca’s enduring bravery flows into us, that we ourselves might be more brave in the days ahead. We are gathered for all these things. But our first task is to face, full and unafraid, the reality of this death and the grief and loss we feel.
Let us be honest with death. Let us not pretend that it is less than it is. It is separation. It is sorrow. It is grief. But let us neither pretend that death is more than it is. It is not annihilation. As long as her memory endures, her influence will be felt. It is not an end to love — humanity’s need for love from each of us is boundless. It is not an end to joy and laughter — nothing would less honor one so vibrant than to make our lives drab in counterfeit respect! Let us be honest with death, for in that honesty we will understand her better and ourselves more deeply.