I used to work in a hospital where a dove sticker was placed above a patient's door shortly after he or she passed away. This sticker, which was not much larger than a sticky note, carried more meaning than any diagnosis or lab value that could be found in the patient's chart. It communicated to those walking by that a soul had left an earthly body. That a wife would never feel her husband's warm embrace again. That a daughter would never get to go wedding dress shopping with her mother.
Seeing this dove almost always made me tear up, but it also made me aware of another important aspect of dying: hope.
Today’s readings are filled with countless reminders of this hope for a life after death. In the passage from the Book of Wisdom we hear "the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them . . . they are at peace.” Jesus echoes a similar sentiment in the Gospel as He tells Martha, “Your brother will rise again . . . whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”
While losing a loved one is undoubtedly life-altering and devastating, there is hope in knowing, “they are at peace,” and dwelling in the house of the Lord as described in the Psalm verses.
And so as we commemorate All Souls’ Day today, let us pray for our loved ones who have gone before us and for all of the souls in Purgatory. And may we live our lives in such a way that if a dove were to show up on our own hospital door tomorrow, we would be ready to enter the Lord’s house.
Joan Nagel is a Registered Dietitian, and in her spare time she can be found reading, writing, and drinking coffee. You can find out more about her here.