Years ago, we had not lived here long when a death came in our community.

Back then, it was as though time stopped for a bit, people left work with no penalty, children were excused from school. Women cooked ‘something to take over’, families gathered (and most families included, aunts, uncles, cousins – which in this day and age are for some reason not included) and the men went to the cemetery, loaded with shovels, mattocks and other implements and dug the grave. Everyone pitched in, in any way to help the bereaved family.

These were the last things that could be done to show respect for the departed. And they were, by friends and family, supported in grief. Hugs and memories were shared in a coccoon of love and tenderness.

I have been to ‘home funerals’, the lost family member taken from their home to the grave site. Little fanfare, just the local preacher and all those involved saying goodbye. Flowers? Whatever was blooming, music. whomever was not too choked up to sing, or broken son as Amazing Grace or I’ll Fly Away sent them to earthly rest.

Here in our Ozarks, many of those traditions have fallen aside. Families are scattered, funeral homes thake care of the arrangements and grave opening and closeing, florists supply blooms. Some live on, the time honored visiting and provision of food. Those gifts of love to the grieving, shared thoughts, memories and hugs.  More than anything, the sharing of love.