Sunday, January 14, 2007

Memorial Service for Maureen Rose Morley

Yesterday, I attended the memorial service for a dear sister in Christ. Maureen Morley passed away peacefully on early Monday on 11 Dec 2006 in Warrenton, Virginia. I like the way the bulletin puts it: "Celebration of Her life and Faith." This is in stark contrast to what the world generally think about death and dying. Indeed, people have often avoided any references to death like a detestable plague. Even some Christians do not want to talk about death. In Chinese society, there is a superstitious bad luck associated with death and dying. Since coming to faith in Christ, I have learnt that in Christ, death and dying is not something to be afraid of, as Christ's resurrection shows us death has no hold on us. Some of her profound thoughts can be found in her blog.

The way the service was conducted yesterday is a clear affirmation of what Maureen Rose Morley stood for, all of her life, especially her last few years in Vancouver and Virginia. Her eternal words are etched in many of our hearts: "Whether I stay or go, I'm still alive! This is not a tragedy!" Her words also led to one brother in the Church writing a song dedicated and sung in the church for her several months ago, before she died.

The service was more than 2 hours long, with individual persons representing her family, her friends, the MarineView Church family, her husband's sailing group, her cancer group as well as many people from Regent College, including a sizeable number of professors and staff of Regent College. John Lunn sang a solo "Come to Jesus", with piano accompaniment from Julie. It was a beautiful call for all attending the service that the memorial is not simply one of Maureen's but that everyone of us present, need to come to Jesus too. Her brother and husband's testimony and eulogy respectively touches my heart, as it showed deep thanksgiving to all present for being a part of Maureen's life. It is important to take this time to remember and to let the grieving process take its place. This is no time to rush. The unhurried manner of the service is a point in itself. There is no need to hurry. We must progress not at high speed but human speed.

The recurring theme throughout the service was one of "Be Strong and Courageous", a reflection of Maureen's last days where she consoled others instead of being consoled, loving others more than herself, bringing comfort to others in spite of her own discomfort and pain. Her life itself is an amazing testimony in life, and the memories of her faith, is an elegant testimony in death. What made the service beautiful was that she had planned the whole service together with her husband Steve, before she died. Her best years were the ones spent with her husband Steve in Vancouver/Virginia.

Incidentally, I have been reading into death and dying, grief and grieving these past weeks, especially in the works of Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross. One of popular works is the stages of grieving which I believe provides us a way to locate our feelings and loss whenever we encounter grief.

  1. Shock stage: Initial paralysis at hearing the bad news.
  2. Denial stage: Trying to avoid the inevitable.
  3. Anger stage: Frustrated outpouring of bottled-up emotion.
  4. Bargaining stage: Seeking in vain for a way out.
  5. Depression stage: Final realization of the inevitable.
  6. Testing stage: Seeking realistic solutions.
  7. Acceptance stage: Finally finding the way forward.

Spending time with people who are dying made me more aware not only of the short life we have on earth, but the precious meaning that life is indeed a gift. For Maureen, thank you for sharing your life and touching many hearts with your words of encouragement, of strength, of weaknesses and of genuine faithfulness. For Steve, we want you to know that our hand of friendship extended to both Maureen and yourself, will remain extended to you. Indeed, by learning how to die gracefully and courageously, Maureen Rose Morley has taught us how to live.

We will miss you.


Anonymous said...

I never saw this post until now and thank you for honoring my sister.

Al Leary said...

As my sister said above, thank you for these thoughts, so well expressed. We are having a tough day today, remembering our sister and missing having her in our lives.

Maureen's Mom said...

How comforting and at the same time so sad to read this post on the fourth anniversary of my sweet daughter, Maureen's death, or should I say the beginning of her life with her Creator. Everything that was written is ever so true about Mareen. She certainly taught me, her mother, how to live and die in joy and peace. On days like this I am thankful for the years I had her here on this earth.

YAPdates said...

Thank you all for your words. As we remember Maureen, let our tears be turned to tears of joy. Let our mourning be turned to dancing on the hope that one day, we will all see Maureen once again. She is in the safest place in the entire Universe. For she is in the gentle and loving arms of Jesus.


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