Lisa Caraway Oliver, EdD, GC-C | Published 06.13.2021
So…I serve as a Lay Eucharistic Minister (LEM) at the church I attend. Today I served at a funeral for a church member, who among many things, was a mother.
One of the rituals in an Episcopal funeral is that, towards the end of the service and prior to being wheeled out of the sanctuary towards the waiting hearse, the casket, covered with a pall is “doused” (I am sure there is a better word but I am trying to tell my story here ) on all sides with incense, followed by a sprinkling of holy water, again on all sides. My role as the Crucifer (the person who carries the cross) is to stand at the head of the casket while this ritual is taking place.
June 24, 12 days from today, would mark 23 years since I funeralized my mother at St. Augustine’s Church in Atlantic City. The pall at St. Augustine’s that covered mom’s casket looked very similar to the one that I stood before today. As I stand in front of a casket that holds someone’s mother, 23 years ago I stood next to a casket with a pall over it that held my mother. It was hot in the sanctuary and, per usual, while wearing a robe and carrying the cross, I was sweating “buckets” but also a steady stream of tears were making their way down my face.
You know it wasn’t the fact that I was serving at a funeral per se that brought me to tears; truth be told, when the request goes out to serve for a funeral, I am always one of the first to volunteer. I believe it is an absolute privilege be part of a such a sacred experience. No, what brought me to tears was it was the month of June, I was funeralizing someone’s mother, and 23 years ago I was doing the same thing.
THE BOTTOM LINE TO THIS STORY IS THIS: You will ALWAYS grieve your mother, sometimes more than others.
Thank you for listening.