Grief message – our loved ones are still with us

Our loved ones remain absent from us for as long as we mourn. Their spirit cannot intersect with ours while we grieve. They are afraid to plunge us further into the pit of despair, so they do not approach. Plus our “certainty” that they are lost to us forever in this realm creates that reality. We see what we expect to see.

Bodies are not permanent. Death is inevitable. However, we are more than our bodies. Once we open up and remember that the soul (the part that matters most) is immortal we will once again be able to interact with those who have passed.

It will be in a different way, of necessity. We will see with our hearts instead of our eyes, and we will feel with our souls instead of our bodies.

This is not a skill that Western society teaches because it isn’t even seen as possible. Western society speaks only of the afterlife – of meeting souls again only after we die. However, this connection is still possible during life. It takes practice – but more importantly, it takes knowing that it is possible. Take some time soon to “call up” your loved ones who have passed from this dimension and invite them for a chat. You’ll both be glad you did.

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Corner

She sat there, alone, in the corner, until she cried it all out. Nobody had told her how to grieve. All she knew were two things – the rocking chair was where you sat to be soothed by your parents, and the corner was where you stood to reflect upon your sins. So she put the two ideas together. Her parents were no longer here to soothe her by rocking her back to sleep after a nightmare or to read her picture book filled with bunnies or bears.
The corner was where you stood facing inward, away from other people, a cheap form of solitary confinement. Bereft of company, you were stuck with your own thoughts. It was a foretaste of hell for those who feel guilty, felt wrong, felt broken. Never in her life had she voluntarily put herself there. This time was different. Everything was different now.
They died, both of them, not quite together, but a bit like dominoes anyway. People couldn’t quite grasp it, and assumed there’d been an accident. It wasn’t sudden. The signs were there all along. It was tragic only so much as it was preventable. It was sad that they’d squandered their lives, dissolved into nothingness, and for so long.
So now, not knowing what else to do, she sat, in the corner, in the chair. No need to face into the corner – nobody was there. Not just in the room, but the whole house. It was so quiet it was deafening. So here she sat, in the space of consoling isolation, to visit with the ghosts of her parents. They’d never left. Sure, their bodies were gone, buried in the cemetery on the other side of the city. Cemeteries and city dumps were always near each other, always in the low-rent part of town. The industrial waste recycling center was in the same block along the section 8 houses. It wasn’t an accident.
She noted she was getting distracted. Grief was like this, this veering away, then closer, like a moth to the flame at times. Dangerous to get too close. So usually we stay away. It hurts too much to look at it directly.
But after a while the phantom pains don’t fade. The anxiety stays long enough to pay rent. They both don’t have nameable causes, so when she finally notices her spirit is off-balance, she knows it is time to stop and face it.
How did she learn this, this inner healing? They certainly didn’t teach her. Death wasn’t something you talked about, just like politics or religion. It wasn’t nice to talk about in polite company. They acted like it was something that happened other people, less fortunate people, people who deserved it. They weren’t even in the same state when their own parents died. They skipped the funerals and cashed the inheritance checks. They wore black for about a month and told friends of their loss, but otherwise didn’t grieve. Maybe that is what killed them so young. If grief doesn’t get out by tears or wailing, it gets bottled up inside and starts eating you up from the inside out.
She was determined not to join them. So here she sat, in the corner, healing herself from the inside out.

Ghost bike

I took the time today to stop and photograph this “ghost bike” memorial. I have passed it on the way to work for two years now, and finally figured out how and where to stop. Isn’t that the secret? Noticing, studying, planning? Making time to see things that you would miss otherwise.

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The text reads “In memory of Michael Alexander Rivas who was killed while bicycling on May 16, 2012. by a distracted texter-driver who did not suffer any consequences for his actions. Texting and driving is against the law but is unenforceable.”

This is at 28th St. and Old Hickory Boulevard, in Old Hickory, TN, a suburb of Nashville.

I had initially tried to share information about this using Google maps, but the images weren’t that good for such a small thing. The first view is from March 2016, and the second is from December 2016.

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The March 2016 images of this area were taken in a car travelling North on OHB, while the December ones were taken in a car travelling South.  This bike does not show up clearly in the March images, and is too far away in the December ones.  So I knew I had to do this myself.

I had to study what landmarks were there before the bike, so I could stop before it and walk to it.  I needed a place to park my car – I couldn’t do it on OHB itself – too busy.  Also, there were usually many cars behind me, so even slowing down to turn off the road was often difficult.  Today was the day – I’d prepared, and there wasn’t much traffic.  I also had left my home with a little extra time.

I did a little research online and found this from the blog of Genea Barnes, who has driven all over the US to photograph and document ghost bikes.  She says there is only one in Nashville. This is it.

“The ghost bike I found was for Michael Rivas at 28th and Old Hickory St. After I had shot the bike, I noticed a woman changing the water that the flowers were in. I stopped and chatted with her for a few moments. She had known Michael, said he was around 30 years old, and she told me that his parents lived right around the corner if I wanted to go knock on their door. I chose not to, I felt it could be intrusive. I gave her my card, and she said if she saw them, that she would pass it along.”

Here is his obituary from the Tennessean newspaper:

RIVAS, Michael Alexander Age 31 of Old Hickory, passed away on Thursday, May 17, 2012 as the result of a tragic accident. Services to celebrate Michael’s life will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 20, 2012 in the Chapel of Spring Hill Funeral Home, conducted by Pastor Keith Enko. Visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, and from noon until service time on Sunday. Interment will be in Spring Hill Cemetery. Memorials are suggested to the Emmanuel Lutheran Church Building Fund. Online condolences and memories can be shared with the family at http://www.springhillfh.com. Michael was born on August 17, 1980 in Nashville, the son of Dr. Alejandro and Beverly Ann (Branson) Rivas. He was a member of the Emmanuel Lutheran Church. He graduated from Donelson Christian Academy and Middle Tennessee State University. Michael had worked in several restaurants. Michael was a very kind, loving and giving person who loved and was devoted to his family. He will be missed by all that were blessed to have known him. Surviving are his loving family, including his parents, Alex and Bev of Old Hickory; brother, Christopher and his wife Margaret Rivas of Mt. Juliet; grandmother, Mary Branson of Old Hickory; the light of his life were his niece and nephew, Emma Grace Rivas and Carter David Rivas. He is also survived by his extended family and a host of friends. Michael was greeted in Heaven by his maternal grandfather and paternal grandparents.

Here is his picture –

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From his condolence book:

May 22, 2012 | Nashville, TN

I worked with Michael at the Davidson County Election Commission. I fondly remember how he always had a smile and and upbeat attitude, everyday. When I think of him and his smile, he always made me laugh. I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.”  Carlatina Hampton

There were many other notes, but this one talked about him as a person, instead of just how sorry they were for the loss.  I wanted to gain a picture of who he was. A memorial should show the person, not just the name and dates.

He lived at 3215 Lakeshore Drive, Old Hickory.  This is about 5 blocks away from where the bike memorial is.

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The house was bought 8-1-1981 for $90K but now appraises at $541K.  It is a one-story stucco house built in 1960 and is 3,146 square feet, with 4 bedrooms and three baths.  The land it is on is .87 acres and it has the lake to its back.

Here is information about his father –

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Dr. Alejandro Rivas is a surgeon in Nashville, Tennessee. He received his medical degree from Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and has been in practice for 47 years.  He works for the Otolaryngology department of Vanderbilt University at 1215 21st Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37232.  According to WebMD, he also sees patients at his home Monday – Friday 8-3.  Here is the phone number (615) 847-4949, and here is the fax (615) 847-5396.  He is affiliated with Tri-Star Skyline hospital and Vanderbilt.  He is 72 years old, which means that he was around 36 when his son was born.  He accepts multiple forms on insurance, and has a 5 star rating on “Healthgrades”

Michael’s mother, Beverly Ann (Branson) Rivas was born  03/02/1951 and is 66, which means she was 30 when Michael died.  She is listed as a Republican.

Their marriage was announced in the Sunday, November 9th 1975 edition of the Decatur, Illinois Herald.

BRANSON-RIVAS Beverly Ann Branson became the bride of Dr. Alejandro A. Rivas in a Saturday afternoon ceremony at Pilgrim Lutheran Church. A reception followed at Cresthaven Country Club. The bride is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Rick Calhoun Branson of 2480 W. Olive St. The groom is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Cesar Rivas of Rivas, Nicaragua. The new Mrs. Rivas is a graduate of MacArthur High School, Decatur School of Practical . Nursing and Parkland College. She is employed by St. Mary’s Hospital. Dr. Rivas is a graduate of National Institute Rosendo Lopez in Nicaragua and the University of Mexico Medical School in Mexico City. He is a resident (of) general surgery at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, Tenn. The couple will make their home at 704 Berry Rd. in Nashville.

Biblical euphemisms for death

7 This is the length of Abraham’s life: 175 years. 8 He took his last breath and died at a ripe old age, old and full of days] and he was gathered to his people. (Genesis 25:7-8)

17 This is the length[e] of Ishmael’s life: 137 years. He took his last breath and died, and was gathered to his people. (Genesis 25:17)

33 When Jacob had finished instructing his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and died. He was gathered to his people. (Genesis 49:33)

14 “I am now going the way of all the earth, and you know with all your heart and all your soul that none of the good promises the LORD your God made to you has failed. Everything was fulfilled for you; not one promise has failed. (Joshua 23:14)

(All verses are HCSB)

After the resurrection – message

I was wondering about how we will share the earth with all the dead after the resurrection. I can’t even imagine how many people that would be – millions and millions. There will be no room for everyone – the planet is overpopulated with the living as is. We can barely support ourselves.

The answer came that we will all be in a new phase reality. There will be many translucent layers of existence, rather than one. This already currently exists, but isn’t visible or manifest to anyone except prophets and seers. But after the resurrection, we will all see like this.

This will not be overwhelming. We will all have new eyes. We will all be able to shift our perception and see more, as we choose. We will not feel like our lives are crowded with people. They will be like the host of angels – ever present, but not always manifest.

Is burial best?

Something disturbs me about burial.  It isn’t the idea that my body will be in a coffin and then under several feet of dirt (six isn’t the norm, by the way).  I won’t need it anymore.

Why bury?  So someone can visit me? I’m not there – not the part that matters anyway.  What if they don’t, however?  There is something so sad about abandoned graveyards.

 

In theory, when you buy a grave site, some of the money is put into a trust for the perpetual upkeep of the grounds.  But who oversees that?  What happens if it doesn’t happen?  Who notices?

And then there is the idea of flooding.  Sometimes this happens.

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This was in 1994 in Georgia.  Officials had a bear of a time figuring out who was who to rebury them correctly.

And then there is archaeology.  They call it science when they dig up somebody and show him or her off in the name of education. This is Genghis Khan’s grave.

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So how is this not desecration?  How is this not violation?  So much for “rest in peace”.  This wasn’t the intent when he was buried – to be dug up and shown off.  This is rude.

And then there is what the Catholic church does to saints.  A “first degree relic” is the entire body – or a piece – of a holy person.  Rather than hoard up all that saintly goodness in one place, it is common to divvy them up.  A finger here, a toe there, a head there… This is in complete violation of their policy that members cannot scatter the ashes of their loved ones.

Graves aren’t permanent.  Bodies can be dug up, and have been.  One reason for the modern “grave liner” or “vault” is that it deters people from digging up a body.  Why would they?  One never knows the reasons for the strange things people do – but it has happened enough that there is a need to protect against it.  Sure, my body isn’t being used by me anymore, but I’d hate to think of someone doing something perverse with it after I’ve vacated it.

Then there is veneration.  This is Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris.

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This does not seem respectful.  Look at all the graffiti on all the nearby graves.

The Tibetans practice “air burial”.  A person cuts up the body to make it easier for the animals to eat it. The dead body feeds living beings.  Every part of the body is useful and benefits others.  While to Western sensibilities this seems disrespectful, it is far more generous and giving than putting the body in the ground to rot.  No coffin is used, no grave is dug.  It is much less expensive on the family.  Also, there is no chance that someone will idolize the dead body by returning to the grave.  The person isn’t there anymore.