Saying Goodbye, for a Time


The grave monument of Matthew Stanford Robison (1988-1999) in the Salt Lake City Cemetery


We buried my mother-in-law today.  It was, unsurprisingly, a sad day.


But it was also a joyous one.  Most of us in her extended family are confident that she’s entered into a wonderful place, that she’s reunited with loved ones who’ve gone on before, including her parents.  We rejoice because she’s now beyond the reach of the disease that, over roughly ten years, clouded her mind, erased her memories, and, toward the end, fundamentally altered her personality.


I was extremely pleased to notice that the grave monument that I mentioned here and discussed here (and which is pictured above) is plainly visible, perhaps fifty yards away, from my mother-in-law’s grave.  Since I learned of it, not long ago, it’s become an extraordinarily powerful symbol, for me, of the hope for a life beyond the grave, and, ultimately, for resurrection.


The opening hymn included Joseph Townsend’s lyrics, which I once thought schmaltzy but which, as the years go by and as more and more of those I’ve loved pass through the veil of death, has come to be increasingly meaningful and moving to me:


Oh, what songs of the heart
We shall sing all the day,
When again we assemble at home,
When we meet ne’er to part
With the blest o’er the way,
There no more from our loved ones to roam!
When we meet ne’er to part,
Oh, what songs of the heart
We shall sing in our beautiful home.

Tho our rapture and bliss
There’s no song can express,
We will shout, we will sing o’er and o’er,
As we greet with a kiss,
And with joy we caress
All our loved ones that passed on before;
As we greet with a kiss,
In our rapture and bliss,
All our love ones that passed on before.

Oh, the visions we’ll see
In that home of the blest,
There’s no word, there’s no thought can impart,
But our rapture will be
All the soul can attest,
In the heavenly songs of the heart;
But our rapture will be
In the vision we’ll see
Best expressed in the songs of the heart

Oh, what songs we’ll employ!
Oh, what welcome we’ll hear!
When we kneel at our dear Savior’s feet.
And the heart swells with joy
In embraces most dear
When our heavenly parents we meet!
Oh, what songs we’ll employ
As the heart swells with joy,
When our heavenly parents we meet!


As a closing hymn at the end of the service, we sang  “Each Life That Touches Ours for Good,” by Karen Lynn Davidson and A. Laurence Lyon.  Between the two hymns, scattered among various talks and reminiscences — very fittingly, given Ruth’s love of music — members of the family offered a solo (Amy Grant’s “I Will Lead You Home”), two piano medleys, and a choral version of “How Great Thou Art!”


The gathering of family and friends was bittersweet.  But, someday, it won’t be:


“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain:  for the former things are passed away.”  (Revelation 21:4)


In the meantime, this wonderful song, a favorite of mine, beautifully rendered, conveys something of my thoughts about death, and about Ruth’s death:




"Not My Will, But Thine, Be Done"
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  • Lucy Mcgee

    I think you are a kind and gentle spirit. So sorry for you and your families’ loss.

    • danpeterson

      Thank you.

  • Dave Gallagher

    So sorry, Dan.
    “Oh What Songs of the Heart”
    I chose that hymn to sing at my father’s funeral. I look forward to those reunions.

  • Eric

    My sympathies to you and your good wife, Dan. I know Lucy M. has got you pegged. –Eric