Words of comfort

Having attended one funeral this week, and a close friend says her final goodbye to her Dad next week, I wanted to share this poem, to offer some words of comfort.

Death, and grieving is hard, whatever the age, or our relationship with them. We will all find our own to deal with our loss. This poem has helped many find some comfort. Hope it helps if you find yourself bereaved.

Death is nothing at all.

I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well.

Nothing is past; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before only better, infinitely happier and forever we will all be one together with Christ.

Henry Scott Holland

What words have helped you come to terms with someone you love dying?

Be kind – you’ve no idea how someone is dealing with grief

I met a friend today who I hadn’t seen for a few years. We lost touch when I was struggling dealing with my grief from losing Mum, and her husband died.

Whilst I sent her a sympathy card, what I really wanted to do was go and hug her and be with her. I couldn’t. My own depression took over, and life went on for both of us. Late last year I got in touch with her last known place of employment, who very kindly passed my message on, and today we met. It was so lovely.

You’ve no idea who someone is dealing with grief

shooting starWe all deal with grief in a different way. We respond differently. I’ve just finished a lovely book, Christmas Under the Stars, by Karen Swan, which dealt with how 3 friends dealt with their bereavement of a friend. Each of them didn’t understand how the other was really feeling, and had their own ways of dealing with their grief.

When Mum died, in 2009, I felt I was doing OK. She’d had cancer for 10 years, and we were blessed to have had that time with her. My brother and Dad dealt with their grief in different ways. However, for me, I think the following few years, and different series of events led me to a depression which was never diagnosed, but had me unable to communicate with others very well. It was during this ‘dark time’, when my friend’s partner died.

Speaking to her today, she told me of her experience of being totally unprepared for the death of her long term partner. She said she’d “coped and been fine with”, the deaths of her parents and her mother in law. She never knew her father in law. She told me how she totally went to pieces, and it’s taken her years to come to terms with her grief. I was amazed, as she’s always been such a strong lady, with a deep Christian faith. It shocked me that she’d suffered so much too, even though I appreciate the relationship is very different from losing a parent.

She’s now in a happy place, although she did say that despite having loving friends and family, that she’s lonely. She told me how there are other ladies in her circle who have similar feelings. They’re going to start having regular luncheons, and share their experiences.

Be kind – We often grieve before death happens

A very close friend of mine’s Dad died last week too, so this is a pertinent topic for me this week. He’d been in and out of hospital, quite a lot of it in intensive care, for the last six months. It wasn’t a surprise, but it’s still not easy to deal with. She’s another strong character, and was very close to her Dad.

She has been driving alternate weekends halfway across the country, to visit her parents. They’ve had a hard time, and it’s been difficult to cope with the massive changes that have occured. She talked at the weekend of how ‘friends’ have told her Mum to ask if she needs anything. But they haven’t been ‘around’ these last 6 months, when her Mum really could have done with some love / care / food parcels / dinner with friends / respite / other people to visit. From my own experience, both in the past and most recent with my father in law, the hospital visiting and changes during life are often harder to cope with than the final act of death itself.

I’ve told my friend who is recently bereaved that it’s horrid. I’m not going to lie. All I know is that it does get easier, and we all have to do what we need to do to cope, and get on with our lives in a way that’s right for us. We don’t know what that means until it happens. I’ve told her to call me, or ask for help from whoever she needs at a particular time.

However strong we believe we are, grief can be a very dark and lonely place. It may last years. We may learn how to cope, but we all need love from others. That’s what makes us human. Whether we have a faith, or none, we all have lives to lead and often children, or siblings to support.

Please listen to those around you. Listen really well, and be there for people. Keep offering your support, even if it’s rejected. You may not have experienced grief yet. You may not know what you’ll need when your time comes.

Be kind. Listen. Love.

It hits you when you least expect it

It hits you when you least expect it

Today would have been my Mum’s 70th birthday, had she been alive.

Mum June 2008 - a year before she died

Mum June 2008 – a year before she died

Surprisingly, I’ve been OK today. It was last week that it hit me that we were reaching a landmark birthday, and not celebrating it with her, here, with us. I guess it’s also as my birthday is a few days before hers, that I’m reminded that my Mum wouldn’t be wishing me a Happy Birthday in person.

Why do things hit us when we least expect them to? It can be anything, not just those we miss, can’t it? Sometimes children or friends do things which tug at our heart strings and we ‘go to pieces’ don’t we?

This day last year I wrote about life being too short, whatever age people live to. I then went quiet on you for about 9 months! I found 2013 tough. Really tough. Not just the bereavement of a close friend, or the heartache loved ones had caused us, but just the general, everyday stuff. I was struggling to keep going through my life, and really couldn’t share the experiences with anyone else apart from my family and close friends.

It does help though. To share. And to cry. To just say, “Yep, today is tough, but I’m going to get through it”, or “I really miss x, but they wouldn’t want me to be sad”. Little steps are better than no steps at all, aren’t they?

So, whilst I’m sorry we aren’t celebrating as a family group, Mum’s 70th birthday, I know that like me, many friends are thinking about her today, and all she brought to us in her 65 years she was on this earth. I still love you as much as ever Mum.

I don’t know why ‘it’ does it, but I’m sure it does us good.

Life will always be too short

Life will always be too short

Last week we went to the funeral of OH’s 47 year old university friend. It wasn’t the easiest of days, or weeks leading up to it.

Red tulipsCompared to a year ago when I was sad at the passing of my 97 year old Nan, this January we felt that Gordon was too young to leave us and his family behind. We felt that his 12 and 9 year old had been robbed of time with their Dad; and his wife, a partner to grow old with.

We’d never been to a humanist service before. The celebrant got it spot on and reassured us all that this is just how it is. The ONLY certainty in life, is death.

Humanists, “want a world where¬†everyone lives cooperatively on the basis of shared human values, respect for human rights, and concern for future generations.

We want non-religious people to be confident in living ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity.”

She told us that it was right to be sad at Gordon’s passing, but that we’d had Gordon in our lives and we should be thankful for that. I know that all of us agree that having shared his life, love and laughter we wouldn’t want it any other way. He’ll be remembered with affection at what he brought to our lives.

We never know what’s around the corner for any of us. An accident, an illness, war – we’ll never know what’ll ‘get us’ in the end. Whether we live to be a grand old age and not be in great health, we just can’t plan can that last bit can we?

From someone who’s lived with a Mum who defied cancer for 10 years and watched her live every day to it’s fullest until she died aged 65, I know that it’s a shame when someone is taken from us so young of age. But that celebrant was right. Life would have been less colourful without Gordon, and we’re pleased that he was part of our lives.

A friend is currently living with the knowledge that her 2 month old baby won’t live for long. But the joy this baby is bringing to his family and friends and the love they are all sharing together is beautiful.

Please live for the day. Don’t bear grudges. And live your dreams. Don’t put off today what needs to be done or said. You may not get another chance to hug that person who needs it. Cliches maybe, but I’m going to live an ethical and fulfilling life, starting today.

Will you?

Picking yourself up

Sometimes we go through tough times. It may be work, family, friendships that cause us to be sad, or low. We may be watching someone die, or caring for someone who is poorly. It’s tough isn’t it?

But we also know whilst we’re doing what we need to do, that it has to come to an end somehow. We have to move on from a friendship that is hurting us; we know that our loved one is going to die and be released from their suffering, leaving us behind. So what can we do?

I’m not sure I’ve got the answers, but having gone through some tough times these last couple of years, all I can do is tell you what I’ve done to pick myself up and move on. We’re all different and cope with situations in different ways. The important thing I’ve learnt is to talk to other people, and find a something to focus on to get me through.

When my Mum died I thought I coped pretty well. I got on with organising and arranging and clearing out her things. It was only 6 months later that I knew I needed help to work through my grief. There was all sorts of emotions going on, and I don’t think I was helped by the fact my Dad started seeing another lady 3 months after Mum died. It’s been a lot to cope with!

I knew that bereavement counselling wasn’t what I needed, so I tried Reiki, with a spiritual healer. She’s been fab, and has helped me so much over the past few years to come to terms with the way of the world. She’s worked with me to ensure I focus on the things I can affect, and my own emotions. I no longer get angry when other people are doing things I can’t affect. It’s helped and has been reassuring.

The credit crunch has affected my business, along with every other business in the country in a dramatic way. My growth plan that started before Mum’s prognosis and the credit crunch meant that I was saddled with expensive premises just when sales halved. It’s taken time to get things straight, change strategy and develop a new way of working to support more women through the Bra Lady network, whilst generating a profit.

The thing I’ve learnt here is to keep trying different things. Don’t give up. If you know your business is needed within the market place, then you’ll find a way of developing it, however slowly. If you’ve got the energy and can afford to keep going with it, just do it. You’ll never be happy until you’ve tried to make it work. However difficult the economy is.

Family life is often challenging. As children grow up they want to do different things. As a parent you want to support them, and ensure they get as many opportunities to do different things. It’s got to the stage in our house that we want to give the boys those opportunities, but we have to work out a way of financially supporting that. For us, it wasn’t a difficult decision. We have a lovely old house that needs work doing to it, so we’ve decided to sell up and move on. What’s the point of having a house we can’t afford to be in, whilst the boys are missing out (and we’re missing out on watching them develop new interests)?

So, whilst the last few weeks have been extremeley challenging in so many ways, I’ve managed to pick myself up, dust myself off, and not quite start all over again, but certainly move on in all areas of my life. The next few months are going to be tough. Moving house and all that entails will be a challenge. But, now we’ve made the decision I feel lighter and more able to look at other parts of my life and put things in perspective.

We only get one chance at life. However tough life seems now, we do need to make the most of it. Use your support network to help you through, and choose some simple tasks to achieve each day. The bigger tasks and decisions will follow when the time is right. Small steps is all we can hope to achieve when we’re sad and upset. Those small steps though will help us move towards the sunshine that we want back in our lives.

I’ve got friends who are newly bereaved, and others are watching their loved ones suffer. I’ve got friends who are struggling with their businesses, or have seen their businesses taken away from them. My son’s friend’s Dad died at the weekend. It’s all around us this sadness and upset. But then we see a new born baby, or a beautiful flower or view, and we know we have to live in the here and now. We have to support our children to grow up and be able to cope with all that life will throw at them. My 10 year old son wrote this in a card he’s sending to his bereaved friend “We hope happiness will come back into your life soon.” .