My grandfather passed away 2 years ago and it was a time of perspective and learning for me. Each person understands death, and life, so differently. We react and cope differently. Some people reach out and want love and comfort, want to come together and a family and feel the closeness and reassurance of love. Some people prefer to separate themselves from life, to look inside and evaluate emotions and memories for a while, and wait a while before reaching out to people. It's often a time of spirituality in reflection - what does death mean and is there a God? I've only had a couple experiences with people close to me passing away, and it's always been difficult. I don't like the idea of funerals or cemeteries, I find myself feeling bitter, feeling the loss of this person in my life. But I've wanted to learn a new perspective, the perspective of rejoicing in their life even after they are gone.
The most interesting thing to me when my grandfather passed away is how my mom and her siblings used to talk about taking walks through the cemetery when they were growing up. Grandpa would even take a picnic lunch and go with them on a Sunday, it was almost like a park. My described something beautiful that I couldn't begin to understand. Death is painful, I've always wanted to tried places that represent death in my life. But my last day in London, I saw a new perspective.
I love to get lost in a new city. So many people just hop on the tube (the underground train system) when the destination would've been less than a 10 minute walk. I had about an hour, so I opted to walk this time. Turned out I walked in exactly the wrong direction, but I keep telling myself I enjoy being lost, it worked out :)
I stumbled across a beautiful stone archway that led into a picturesque park, flowers and trees and everything was so green. There was an older couple walking arm in arm down a dirt path and I couldn't help but smile. So I said "hey, I'm lost anyway. May as well take my time and walk through the park". Relax, breath, clear my head, and take a few pictures. A few steps in and I saw a tour group , with the tour guide pointing to headstones and crosses and talking about something. I got really confused. If this was a cemetery, why would people other than family members of those buried here come visit? But dozens were just walking around, so I convinced myself to keep going. And it was beautiful. And heartwarming. Walking past the gravestones and the flowers placed by the cross, I felt peace. I felt something about death that wasn't just uncomfortable. And I'm grateful for that. There was something so perfectly beautiful about the way in which these people's lives were honored with this atmosphere that was more like a park. Seemed perfect to me.
I took a few photos for istock as well, you can purchase them here
And I walked away with a new perspective, a new appreciation, and greater understanding. I hope to hold it in my heart forever so I can remember the beauty and the peace, the joy that can be found in celebrating someone's life even after they have passed.