The Circle of Life and My Circle of Friends

By Judy Pysell

We have all experience death at some point on our faith journey. Perhaps it was the death of a loved one – mom, dad, sister, brother, extended family, neighbor or friend.

Oh, that feeling. It is always the same. They are gone and you are still here to carry on. How do you fill the void?

You know the void. That giant hole of emptiness. That void where mom sat and she’s no longer there as we reach out into our memories of days gone by and she is now only a distant vision.

I can’t do this alone.
I can’t go on without her.

These are words we have all said at one time or another. The answer is, yes, you can. You do it with all those beautiful memories, surrounded by your friends and family, and the warm and loving embrace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

On December 10, I woke to the overwhelming sense of loss. My mom would have been 95 on this day, but the Lord had other plans. The Lord called her home on April 13, 2019. I have no regrets, just an empty spot that is hard to fill. Moms are the glue that holds a family together.

Mom was born and raised in London, England. She married a soldier during World War II and came to the United States as a British war bride. She would periodically visit England throughout her life, but America was now home.

Her wishes were to be cremated at her death and scattered on my dad’s grave. On my last visit to see her before her death I said to her, “Mom when you get stronger, we will take another trip to England together.” She beamed like a newly-lit Christmas tree. I knew she would never be able to take that trip. I also knew what my next mission would be.

Course of Study was scheduled to take another educational trip to England in May, “Wesley in England” and I was registered to go. I told my family, “If mom dies before that trip, I’m taking her back to her homeland.” Arrangements were made to do that after she died.

Mom did make the trip with me one more time but in a different form. We were in England for 12 days and mom’s ashes accompanied me on the whole trip.

On the last evening of our trip, we ate dinner at a restaurant along the Thames River. It was along the river’s banks that I released her ashes back to her homeland. I watched as they flowed into the city of her birth, London.

I was not alone, even as my heart was breaking and the tears flowed. I had a loving group of Course of Study students and instructors with me. I heard them recite Psalm 23, which was mom’s favorite Scripture passage. It was a sacred moment in time.

Her ashes left my hands, but the comfort and support I received from my Course of Study friends and instructors are still with me today. I felt their presence. I felt their comfort. I felt their support. Most of all, I felt the overwhelming presence and peace of God.

The rest of mom’s ashes were buried with my dad in the veteran’s plot at Our Lady of Hope Cemetery in Pennsylvania.

Thank you, Course of Study friends. Thank you, Greg Markins, Mike Linger, and Ken Krimmel for this sacred moment in time. I am forever grateful for that moment.

This time of year can be particularly difficult for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. For local church resources visit United Methodist Communications for more.

Several WV Conference churches are offering Longest Night or Blue Christmas worship services. These services provide a time of healing and prayer for anyone who is in need of prayers this season.