Submitted by Owen McCooey

Sunday, November 13, 2016 was a true November day: dark, wet and windy. So the warmth and sanctuary of the Netloft was a perfect setting for the Gabriola Ecumenical Society’s presentation, Loving Presence During Tough Times.

In our society conversation about death has never been easy. The emotions surrounding it are deep and profound. The loss is at times unbearable. Yet time does, for most, provide a healing perspective.

It was difficult to know how this presentation would affect the presenters and those hearing the stories told. It was a shared experience for all.

While the names of those to be remembered and honoured were read out, floating candles were lit and placed in a large basin. Tejomaya provided sitar music during the ceremony and also during the quiet moments of reflections between each presentation.

A wife spoke of how she and her husband decided to deal with her husband’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease by embracing life and living each moment to the fullest. When the Parkinson’s took its toll, the family all helped in his care and were gifted with a deeper sense of love for a husband, father and grandfather.

A father told how the difficulties and struggles he experienced with his son led the father to a place where he could be at peace with him. On reflection, the father also realized that his son’s behaviour prepared him for his son’s untimely death.

A wife shared the story of her relationship with her husband and how their love for one another brings her comfort. After his death, there have been times she has felt his loving presence.

A son shared the story of his mother’s final days in hospice. Her interest in others and her steadfast faith continued right to the end.

An artist described how through painting she realized form changes, but love remains. Her paintings helped her see this after the deaths of family members, friends and most of all her son.

Twenty-seven people attended. One person commented, “We should do this every year”. What was shared by the presenters speak to all of us. It was empowering. The stories reminded us that to some degree or other we have all been there. As a community we silently came together in empathy for one another.