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Harris Blackwood: Moving past grief with happy memories of loved ones
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On the first Sunday in November, a number of churches celebrate All Saints Day.

At my church, it is a time to remember all those who have died in the previous year. In our church, 52 people passed away this year. Many of them were special to me.

For the most part, we don’t do well with death. I think that is a problem that is getting worse, not better.

I have stood at the graveside of everyone in my original family. Do I miss them? Yes. Do I occasionally shed a tear or two in sadness? Yes.

But the time comes when you should start getting past the loss of a loved one. You’ll never get over it.

I like to think of their lives in terms of pictures. If they were filed like a card catalog at a library, the front would be all of the great memories that make me smile. Somewhere in the back would be a little bitty section of sad memories.

You can dust off the good pictures of holidays, birthdays, celebrations and special events. Remember a trip you took to someplace special or a moment etched in your mind forever.

Even in his sickness, I have moments with my brother that still make me laugh. As his memory was being erased by a brain tumor, he would wake up and find me at his home. He would ask for bacon and eggs. A few hours later, he would wake up again, greet me as if I just arrived and ask for bacon and eggs, not realizing he had some three hours earlier.

I scrambled those eggs gladly. It is a sad moment through which I can still smile.

I have wonderful memories of friends who are gone. Great conversations and moments just bring joy. That’s what we need to remember.

Yet, some people can’t get to that place. Grieving is a very individual process. No two people are the same.

We also don’t do well in dealing with somebody else’s grief. Standing in a receiving line at a funeral home, you hear some of the most bizarre things you’ll ever hear.

“Our little dog died last month and I know what you’re going through,” someone told a grieving widow.

OK, dogs are great companions and losing one is not easy, but it pales in comparison to the death of a mate.

I was at the funeral of someone whose son was shot by a crazy person.

Someone had the audacity to say, “It was God’s will.”

Let me assure you it was not God’s will for some nut-job to pull out a gun and kill another human being.

I went to a funeral for a woman who had fought a long battle with cancer. During that time, she never gave up on her devotion to her family, community and church. The line at the funeral home stretched down a long hall and wound through a large chapel.

“There’s your memory,” I told her husband, pointing to the long line of people. “Remember how many people loved her.”

I hope he has a mental picture of that in the front part of his box of memories.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on