Several years ago when I began working at AseraCare Hospice, I was introduced to an extraordinary woman named Lois. My colleague Judy knew her long before she had dementia and long before I began caring for her. She heard Lois, accompanied by a famous pianist, sing with grace, beauty and intensity. Her joy and passion in life was her music. Many years had gone by by the time I Lois came into my life. Her pianist friend had passed away, she had long been sinking into a life where her memory no longer was true to her, and she lost her ability to serenade her friends and family. But her love of music was just as strong as ever! I discovered that the best way to connect with Lois was to begin singing the “Ole Time Favorites” of her day – “Oh When the Saints Go Marching In”, “Yankee Doodle”, “Skip to my Lou” were just a few of the songs that would bring a smile to her face and her hands go clapping.
But the song that she responded to the most by far was “On the Good Ship Lollipop.” Until the end, she was able to join in humming her favorite tune and on a good day she would even be able to mouth a few of the words.
I was honored to be asked to officiate Lois’ memorial service, and because she brought joy to others in her music and in the way she lived her life, her family asked me to create a celebration of her life. And so I did. Many tears were shed that day, stories were told, laughter shared. But the very best part as we closed the book of Lois’ life was the closing of her service. We all left the chapel dancing and singing “On The Good Ship Lollipop”! And you guessed it – we even gave out lollipops!!
Just as there is no right way to grieve, so there is no right way to write the final page. Creating a service that truly celebrates and honors your loved one will leave you with special memories to hold for a long time.