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Being a Widow

My experience of dealing with grief as a widow


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Aaron Freeman on planning your funeral

26 January 2013

Sometimes things happen simultaneously that make me cry.

After a day of hard, hard working on my assignment, I suddenly burst in to a small flood of tears when a song by the Counting Crows came on iTunes. This was one of JD's favourite bands. No idea why this suddenly made me cry. I mentioned my crying on Facebook and tagged JD in my status update. This then lead me to go to her page where a friend had posted something very beautiful that I had not noticed before. My random crying lead me to JD's page for the first time in months and months. Normally I would have looked and read this thing my friend posted and not cried. I would have found it beautiful. But now that I was already sad, it just made me cry more. For about 5 minutes. And then it was over.

In the early days, this kind of crying would have lasted for hours. Funny how time heals.

Anyway.....what this friend posted on JD's Facebook page was a quote from Aaron Freeman. On a radio show in 2005, he discussed how you should have a physicist speak at your funeral. You can hear the segment here:

Below is the full text. I think it is beautiful. It feels spiritual and yet it is pure science. JD would have loved a physicist say something like this at her funeral.

"You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

"And at one point you'd hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell them that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

"And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

"And you'll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they'll be comforted to know your energy's still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you're just less orderly.


Aaron Freeman


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