A friend who lives in the neighborhood invited me over. Her mother recently had died, and my friend wanted to share something of her mother’s with me as a keepsake. The invitation honored—and humbled—me.

I marveled at the strength of a woman who in the midst of deep grief had the capability to give love. We visited in the kitchen a while. I wanted to know how she was. She relived some of the last days with her mom, processing traumatic events in a quiet way.

A phone call interrupted us. She glanced at the screen, then said apologetically, “I have to take this. It’s about my mom’s estate.”

I walked outside to give her privacy. I wasn’t sure if it would be better to leave or wait to accommodate the demands she juggled. A few minutes later, she waved me into the family room where her mom’s belongings were displayed on a table for friends to view and choose.

“What would you like? You can pick anything at all.” She pointed toward pretty crystal plates and elegant serving dishes.

It felt strange to take one of her mom’s precious possessions, but I knew my friend got joy in sharing. At the end of the table, I noticed a ceramic swan with gilt trim. “Is it OK if I have that?”

“Sure! I love the idea my mom’s friends will have a way to remember her.” She picked up the swan and stroked the top of it. “I remember when Mom and I took the class to make these.”

She passed the treasure to me. Cradling the fragile vase, I thought how life is sacred. The way we invest our time now impacts many. My friend’s mom lived boldly and kindly. Her daughter carries on that tradition.

We chatted a few more minutes, then I prepared to leave so she could continue working. We chuckled about a time her mom tried to give me two large bags of M&M’s.

“Hearing stories like this helps me know my mom even better,” my friend said.

I hugged her and left, feeling a bit helpless how to share her burden of sorrow. Once home, I put the swan on the kitchen counter to remind me of generosity. Often, I pick fresh flowers from the yard and arrange them in the vase. Then I text my friend a picture of the new bouquet. That’s a small way to let her know her mom’s legacy of love lives on.

“For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (1 Thessalonians 4:14 NIV).

Resources to help with grief:

MedCircle: Life After Loss: Why It’s Okay to Not Just “Get Over” Grief, August 2, 2019

Podcast by Kathleen Maxwell Rambie about grief titled “Understanding Grief.” Comforting talk with many examples how a person works through pain with God’s help at

GriefShare is an organization to support those grieving the death of a family member or friend. There are online resources as well as groups.