Celebration of Life? (Part 1)

This is a contribution by Dr. Penny Lloyd:
Dr. Penny recently lost her lifelong companion mare “Bangwyn”. By sharing experience and insight around life and death of loved ones, it is her intent to help all of us open to the unfathomable beauty and ultimate connection that is healing.

Cat's EyeCelebration of Life?

Several years ago a good friend and her 7 year old daughter were killed in a head on car crash. It was the first time I went to a funeral that was called “Celebration of Life”. At the time, I was grief stricken and trying hard to control it. To me the phrase “Celebration of Life” was not something I was up to at a time like that. The last thing I felt like doing was joining in a celebration. I could see how it was a positive way to honor a life well lived, but that was as deep as my understanding went. The phrase seemed like an overly bright smile masking a huge gaping wound. Now, I understand better. When you really go into it and follow it to the root, these are great words to describe a deeper truth.

What I remember most about my first “Celebration of Life” are 3 things:

Permission to be real. It was the first time in my life I experienced a group of people who had room for it all. It was okay to cry or laugh, crack a stupid joke, talk or not. It did not matter. Everyone had room for everything. In a strange way it was a group of people as it should be. Everyone had a larger capacity that day. I didn’t understand the window that death provides. I only knew that it actually felt good. Feeling good at a funeral?!? It was my first glimpse into compassion. It was the potential of the human race in a compassionate state – an evolved state of being – and it was beautiful indeed.

Crying. That was not something I allowed freely at that time in my life. What a powerful release. It is like taking the lid off a pressure cooker to let go of the resistance of trying not to cry. It is the first step to feel better – to stop the fight – to give yourself permission to feel what you feel. To let whatever you feel move through you and not get stuck.
The radiance in her husband/father’s eyes. He had the most captivating eyes that day. I had never noticed his eyes before, but that day you couldn’t help but fall deep into the bottomless blue. Like they weren’t really eyes, but a compelling force. They say the eyes are the window to the soul. At the time I had little understanding. Now I know it was presence shining through a human – stronger than I had ever witnessed before – absolute mesmerizing beauty.

I felt that radiance again the day my mare passed. There was a moment where she was more beautiful than I had ever seen. This was followed quickly by a second of panic where I desperately wanted to run and get my camera, do something, to try to capture…a lifetime. But some wise part of me knew to just let that thought go, be there, sit, breathe, let the panic subside, sink into the moment and enjoy it more. We were just doing something we had done thousands of times. I was biting off pieces of carrot and she was munching away. But the splendor of the moment was profound. There was magnificence in her face – the shape, how her forelock tumbled and rested between those incredible soft, kind eyes – eyes that held so much and understood everything. With zero energy for expectations that day – I witnessed perfection.

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