The Final Rite of Passage


“Grief never ends, but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith, it is the price of love.” ~Darcie Sims

A few nights ago, my wife’s mother completed her rite of passage. But my wife, our daughters, and many other family members, are still in the midst of theirs. In my wife’s case, it’s the death of a mother (a passage I experienced twenty years earlier), and in my daughters’ case, the death of a grandparent.

Each passing of someone we love is unique. Which makes it both terrible and wonderful. Terrible in that previous deaths fail to establish patterns we can count on; each brings its own peculiar pain. But wonderful, because each passage brings a bittersweet joy, a farewell as distinctive as the person to whom we are saying goodbye.

Each death, leading up to our own, teaches us about Death, and therefore about Life.

We’re in Plato’s Cave. And no matter what we may believe about “what’s after this,” we live as if this cave were the only reality. Yet at intervals, Death comes and takes away those we love. To where? To nothingness? We’re conflicted: we can’t see them anymore, and so it feels as though they have become nothing. But nothing is a false construct. What we call “nothing” is really just a change of form, a transition. Some will say, “Well, yes, the molecules still exist, but not the ‘person.’”

But are persons the sole exception, the only thing that ceases to exist? Quantum physics (as well as that innate something inside us that disconnects from time when we sleep or daydream) informs us that everything is, in reality, a part of an infinite Now, and that it is linear time, not we ourselves, that is an illusion. To have lived, even for a moment, is to live forever.

Contrary to the grim reaper caricature, Death isn’t the great destroyer (most temporal bodies are already losing energy long before Death arrives). No, Death is the great reviver that leads us out of this shadow reality, this Plato’s Cave, into true Reality. And all of that, on some level, is what my family members are wrestling with now, each in their own way. This post is my way (although their pain far outstrips mine).

All rites of passage (birth, coming-of-age, marriage) are defined by love. But none so much as the final one. So if it is love that accompanies our leaving, may it not also be love…

That welcomes us to the other side?

“And so we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, because that which can be seen is temporary, but that which is unseen is eternal.” ~2 Corinthians 4:17-18

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Memoir, Quips and Quotes and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

53 Responses to The Final Rite of Passage

  1. Yes. Yes, to all of this. So beautifully written. “…it is linear time…that is an illusion. To have lived, even for a moment, is to live forever.” What a powerful testament to both life and death.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. So sorry for your family’s loss. It is indeed difficult to let go of those we love, even when they are older and their bodies are ready to go. I believe death is so difficult because we were never meant to die and so it is always a foreign emotion we deal with. God Bless.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Bruce says:

    I’m truly sorry to hear of your family’s loss Mitch. The love that we come to value is but a whisper of God’s love expressed to us. What we do with His expressed love through the person of His Son, Jesus the Christ, determines if that love goes on. For God so loved the world ….

    Liked by 2 people

  4. So sorry for your loss!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Grief is a difficult thing to go through. It seems the deeper the love, the deeper the grief. Praying your family feels the peace of Christ as you walk this road of sorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. esoterica says:

    What beauty and wisdom you’ve extracted from a situation in which many would see little more than suffering. Sending love to you and your family. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. enitsirk24 says:

    So sorry to hear of the passing of your mother-in-law. I understand the voided feeling as my mother just passed away.
    This was beautifully written.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. says:

    So sorry for your loss, Mitch. I’m getting closer to this rite of passage each day. We’re losing friends right and left, but knowing they are in heaven is a great comfort ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So sorry for your loss. this hits home with me. It’s going to be a year since losing my mother-in-law we still are all hurting. It makes me sad to know of all the ones we have lost and how those memories we have of them are worth more then anything we have on this earth. Thanks for the beautiful words. They help….

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Piano girl says:

    Beautifully stated. The description of bittersweet joy is powerful. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. Thank you for sharing in such a transparent way. 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So sorry for your family’s loss, Mitch. You describe the passage beautifully.🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  12. smzang says:


    My heartfelt empathy with and sympathy to your wife, your daughters and to you.
    Death leaves no small pain, but it does, when we are ready to embrace it, remind
    us of a most beautiful victory. Even so, each word that you wrote was read through
    many prisms. Now I sit here red eyed and thinking of the comfort to be found in the
    words you’ve penned to honor your wife’s mother, how these loving farewell thoughts will lift up everyone who reads them. It reminds me, too, of just how wonderful God’s plan is even in the moments when the pain of loss is greatest.

    Many blessings to you and yours,

    Liked by 1 person

  13. So sorry for your family’s loss. One of my favorite ministers said at a funeral…”she is a ship sailing away. We are on the shore waving goodbye and on the other side she is awaited and they are saying here she comes.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Nancy Ruegg says:

    I, too, am very sorry for your family’s loss, Mitch. With you I look forward to the day when we’re all together again in heaven, experiencing such bliss we’ll wonder why we held on so tenaciously to life here. This sentence especially spoke to me: “Death is the great reviver that leads us out of this shadow reality, this Plato’s Cave, into true Reality.” Praise God we have the reality of eternal heaven with him to look forward to–in the company of all our loved ones who have arrived there ahead of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. M.B. Henry says:

    I’m so sorry ❤ Prayers and love to you and the family

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Quirky Girl says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. The line, “To have lived, even for a moment, is to live forever” genuinely resonates with me. I’ve come to believe that a person is never truly “gone”; they live on in different ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. themeonnblog says:

    My sincere condolences to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. You are there for them, just as much as He is. So, may they continue to feel His presence, be encouraged by His strength, lean into His comfort, and be refreshed by His amazing love.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. This was beautiful Mitch. It ministered grace.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. anitashope says:

    Beautiful thoughts. May your family feel God’s love and peace at this time of passage; feeling assured that on day you will meet again .

    Liked by 1 person

  21. nancyehead says:

    Peace and comfort to you and yours. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is when Jesus says God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob . . . . and that God is the God of the living, not the dead.


    Liked by 1 person

  22. carhicks says:

    I am sorry for your family’s loss. Even as we know and truly believe that in death we have eternal life, it is still so hard to know we will no longer be able to see, talk to or hold our loved ones. The tears are for us, not our loved one. This was very eloquent. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Praying for you and your family brother.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Gary Fultz says:

    Sorry Mitch. It’s really hard. We will lose two sr. members of our family this year (Probably unless there are miraculous rallies). We have two sayings with them back and forth when we part. One is “See you at the gate” the other is “Bye for now” as we do not know if it’s the last time we see them as distance is a problem. Just yesterday when my son hung up the phone to his ole man, he signed off by saying “Bye for now dad”…gulp

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Lovely concluding Scripture, Mitch. My prayers go out to you all.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Mary Jane says:

    I love how you worded this. Especially the idea that our final leaving will be (in many ways) accompanied with more love than when we entered this world, because we have LIVED! Good reminder to live in love. Thanks!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Terri Nida says:

    I lost my dad October 2018. Grief is so difficult, but it gives us a chance to think more deeply of the person and to grow in our reliance on God.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s