Memento Mori: Reflecting On Life and Death

I’ve gone to three different Catholic funerals in my life. I’m not particularly fond of funerals because I find it too heavy for me. Each time I go to pay my respects, it has me thinking about my own life and death.

The first funeral I went to was when I was 16 and attending to pay my respects to another classmate who passed. John died very unexpectedly. He was a star student , an amazing athlete, tall, handsome, kind and loved by everyone in school. Little did we know, he was born with a heart condition that he believed was corrected. One day in October he was jumping rope as a warmup, went into cardiac arrest and died.

I remember everyone in my grade, nearly all 300 of us, went to the wake. I didn’t even know John all that well but thought it was right to support my friends who did. There was a line outside the funeral parlor to enter the viewing. It was so long that people passing by would stop us and ask what we were waiting for, curious about the spectacle. I’ll always remember the look of confusion on their face when we said it was for the passing of a friend.

John looked beautiful like an angel; his hair never looked more red. Somehow, they always look truly at peace when they’re laying in their casket.

At 16, I never faced death before and was not prepared for it. I felt the sadness and grief in the air and I could of cut through it with a knife. I had to leave the wake early because I was sobbing uncontrollably and upsetting everyone around me. I felt the sadness of everyone grieving and it filled me to the point where I was just sobbing for everyone else. His life was cut so short! If only he wasn’t jumping rope, he would have lived!

That day I learned that life isn’t always promised and that it could be taken from you in an instant. It seemed so unfair. In my eyes, John was least deserving of death.

The second funeral I went to was for my neighbor Jim. He suffered with Alzheimer’s. He was in his 80s when he went. I thought it would be easier, his death was very expected and he suffered a long time with his disease. But it wasn’t.

He was an Irishman and as I reflected on his life, I couldn’t help but feel blessed to have known him. He lived a long life and often spoke to us kindly in his beautiful Irish accent. The day of his funeral I longed to hear him speak again, it was so mesmerizing. Even though he and his wife had been in the US for decades, he still carried a heavy accent. I remember playing with his grandson and watching him mow his grass from our front window.

This time I felt a sense of true loss, here was someone I knew and saw every day for years. And now he was gone.

Silent tears rolled down my face at the funeral as the priest gave his homily reflecting on Jim’s life. I knew he was in heaven with God, no one lived a more humble and god-loving life. Yet I still felt sad that he left us.

They held the reception in his family’s backyard. I listened as his family told stories about all the things Jim did in his life, how kind and exceptional he was.

It’s funny, even in death you can be celebrated. It had me thinking a lot about my own death and the future for my parents. They were getting older and even though death is expected at the end of old age, I realized it was never welcomed. There will always be a sense of mourning and loss.

Most recently I went to my Husband’s grandma’s wake. Grandma P’s death was also expected. She was sick and going through a lot physically in the end of her days. It gave me a lot to think and pray about. She was more aware that she was dying.

She was also blessed to have so many children. All five of them came to her side. Aunt B was the one who had cared for her all these years.

Aunt B asked her, “Are you scared?”


“Don’t be, we’ll be with you. We won’t leave your side.”

The thought that you can be aware of your impending death is terrifying. The thought of saying goodbye to everyone you love saddens me. I pray she went in peace.

Her wake was small yet beautiful. My father in law put together a slide about her life. It was amazing to see how many lives she touched and how much she meant to so many people. I realized her 84 years of life was not meaningless but rich with purpose. With five of her grandchildren, including my Husband, she played a huge role in raising them. I left with a sense of peace, knowing that she was truly with God and that she was in good hands.

A Catholic funeral is quite beautiful but also very expensive. In some cases it can be compared to the price of a wedding. The casket, funeral services for the wake, funeral and reception, flowers, burial site and tombstone can reach upwards of $15k-20k for standard services.

But can you really put a price on remembering the life of a loved one?

For Catholics, death is the biggest event of our lives. We believe that our life is a journey, with death being the final destination. That, with God’s Grace, we’ll be reunited with our merciful God. It’s not a live for today ideology but one that hopes for a better future.

Memento Mori in Latin means remember your death. It’s the concept that our death is inevitable and we should prepare now for what comes after. I’ve learned that our lives are truly precious no matter what age we are. And though it makes me sad to think my mother’s, father’s or even my own death, I know there’s a peace on the other side and that life doesn’t end with death.

Check out my other posts

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: The Power Of Family

My Best Friend Ghosted Me

A Spiritual Journey

I haven’t been writing much these past two weeks and honestly I don’t know if I will write much more. After my experience, I find my articles, though useful, as lacking substance.

A little backstory about me. I was raised Catholic by my parents though was not heavily emmersed into the Faith. I was baptized, received communion, took part in confession and went to Mass with my parents.

But at the same time, I didn’t fully understand my religion or what it meant. The time of Jesus felt like a time in history that was sooo long ago. Like mythic story or an incredible legend, not something that should be lived through today.

In my late teens to present, I’ve lived farther from God. Living in sexual sin that is so casual today, being prideful and lost. I’m not a bad person by human standards, but I’m definitely not a Holy person either.

Lately I’ve been feeling very lost. As a child I felt like by the time I was an adult the world would make sense. I would understand why people suffer or why people do evil things or allow evil to occur, but I didn’t. I still have no clue. I also realized how blessed I was with all the gifts of having a great husband, children, a good job, health and family. Still I felt it all could be taken from me, I felt vulnerable.

About 2 weeks ago, I was on the bus I take to commute to every evening. On the way, there’s this billboard with the Blessed Virgin Mary telling us to pray the rosary. “Change your life, change the world.” I had seen that sign many times and thought nothing of it. But that day it was burned in my memory.

A few days later, my mother comes to go pumpkin picking with me, my husband, my daughter and my sister and her boyfriend. She had just come back from her religious pilgrimage from Lourdes, France and Fatima, Portugal. She gave me Lourdes Holy Water and a Blessed rosary from Fatima. I thanked her and she told me that she had a spare for my sister, who hadn’t arrived yet. I immediate thought of my mother in law, who’s mother (my husband’s grandmother) was sick. I asked my mom to give the spare religious items to my mother in law instead. Not explaining why.

Immediately I knew I did a good thing and thought about how happy God would be that we are sharing our faith among eachother. The thought lingered and so did the billboard.

I found myself looking up the rosary prayer wondering if it could really change our lives. I don’t know what drew me to the rosary that my mother gave me, I had never prayed the rosary before. After all my research, the common theme was that it was a powerful prayer that allowed for God’s Grace.

In a sort of test to God, I agreed with myself to pray the rosary every day for a month and see what happens. I thought, “What could I really lose by praying the rosary every day?” I would be open to whatever the prayer led me to, even if it was nothing.

After two days of praying the rosary, many things were revealed to me. Some things that I had always known but chose to ignore and other things that I had no real understanding of previously.

  1. . I realized how greatly I sinned and how it offended God for me to live like this. It was like the veil was lifted from my eyes and I knew I was living in spiritual squalor.
  2. I needed to go to Confession and confess all that I’ve sinned with great remorse. This wasn’t hard, because I felt so disgusted with myself.
  3. I needed to be the spiritual pillar for my family’s faith because even though I was weak, I was still stronger than my husband and my daughter in Faith. Through me and my devotion to God, they could be saved.
  4. That our lives on this earth is incredibly short and we were always intended to live as Saints among the Angels. And that if I didn’t feel like I was a Saint now, I need to start working on myself spiritually. Right now we are in a very fallen state.
  5. That the Devil is real and lives among us with his demons. Many people don’t worship the devil outright. But people who do not have God in their hearts are allowing themselves to be used by the Devil to destroy their souls and the souls of others. Many of the evil things we see in the news are caused by the Devil acting through others.
  6. That my eldest sister was being spiritually tormented. That’s why she has so much hate for our parents, including our father.

I found many of these thoughts strange. They had come to me out of nowhere. I started researching Catholic terms including: what is grace, miracles, Fatima and Lourdes. Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. Saints, Sainthood and incorruptibility. Everything that was uniquely Catholic.

I concluded that these thoughts came to me from supernatural means and through the grace of God.

I started to get very sad in the mornings thinking about all the ways I have sinned and how blessed I was to have received the Grace of God. I was crying a lot and feeling very sad.

I resolved to go to Confession as soon as possible to take care of all the longstanding sins I had committed. I created a two page list of all the worst sins I had created and resolved not to commit them again.

I personally dislike Confession. The hardest thing you can do is stand before God and say, “here are all the ways I failed you, please forgive me.”

When Saturday came, the day the Sacrament of Reconciliation is offered, I waited my turn for my confessional. When it was my turn, I immediately start crying but go through my whole list of sins.

Father helps me through the Acts of Contrition prayer I had forgotten and absolves me of my sins.

So here I am trying to mend my relationship with God that I let fall apart over the years. I thought I would share this story with all my loyal readers. After much thought and prayer, I’m taking a hiatus from this blog to focus on God and my family. If any of you have any questions, feel free to ask here.