2024 - January - Gazette - Love Your Heart

By: Jackie Naginey Hook
Thursday, January 25, 2024

Love Your Heart

Children can be great role models for adults, in all kinds of ways. For example, when it comes to the grief journey, I have a special place in my heart for the funeral and memorial services I’ve officiated when children were present.

I’ve seen children spontaneously get up and dance as I shared happy memories of their loved ones. I’ve seen others sing out in loud voices as we played songs their loved ones liked. I’ve heard children share incredibly heartfelt and wise words in front of a room full of people. I’ve had children compose touching letters that I then read to those present. I’ve watched children write notes and place them in the caskets to be buried with their loved ones. And, I’ve seen children sit and weep.

All of these reactions are healthy and appropriate. They are what the death of a loved one calls for.

When I officiate at funeral and memorial services, I often open the service by saying that both tears and laughter are welcome. Yet, children don’t need to be told this. They live it.

Children are adept at loving their hearts and listening to what their bodies tell them to do. There’s a grief model entitled the Dual Process Model whose tenets are that when we are grieving, we spend some of our time in a loss mode feeling the pain, and some of our time in restoration mode making our life good again. We oscillate between these two.  

Children show us that model every day. They come running to us when they’re upset about something and then they go off and play. Later they come back upset again. It’s a continual dance between the two.

When we love our hearts, we listen to them just as the children model for us. Loving our hearts when we’re grieving may mean going out for a walk. It may mean crying. Journaling. Participating in a grief education and support group. It may mean taking a break and seeing a movie, or doing something we enjoyed doing before the death. There is no right or wrong way to grieve or rebuild our lives, only our own individual ways. Loving our hearts may mean telling our stories of loss, grief, growth, and transformation.

On Monday, February 19 at 7 p.m., you’re invited to be a part of one such storytelling event. State of the Story and Learning to Live: What’s Your Story? are hosting “Love Lives On” at 3 Dots Downtown, 137 East Beaver Ave, State College. This is an evening of Moth-style storytelling during which six to eight individuals will share a short story of how love lived on after a loss in their lives. Before that evening’s event, these individuals will have participated in multiple coaching and crafting sessions – an experience many previous participants said was life changing. They’ve described it as: deep and hopeful; powerful introspection; courageous; a time of remembrance; a feeling of heart wide open; relief and gratitude; and, a sense that I’m not alone. Tickets can be purchased in advance from 3 Dots Downtown. Please visit the Koch Funeral Home website for more details.

You are also invited to love your heart like a child by attending the following gatherings.

More information can be found on the Bereavement Gatherings and Events page of the Koch Funeral Home website. To reserve your spot and receive the invitation links, email Jackie@JackieHook.com, call 814-237-2712, or visit the Koch Funeral Home Facebook page @kochFH.

Jackie Naginey Hook, MA, is a spiritual director, celebrant, and end-of-life doula.  She coordinates the Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program through Koch Funeral Home in State College.  For more information, please call 814-237-2712 or visit www.kochfuneralhome.com.




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