I have lost count of the number of funerals I have conducted and the number of grieving relatives I have listened to, cried with and offered counsel to. So what better training could I have wanted for coping with the death of someone close to me. Well, preparation is one thing but readiness is quite different.
We had prepared for my wife Sheila’s death as best we could; funeral director, type of funeral and so on, and we knew it was not far off. The additional prop for me was the extent of her faith. My grandson(17) had said to me ‘Nanna doesn’t have faith you know. You have faith , ‘cos it it what you have to overcome doubts. Nanna had certainty”. And that is how it seemed. So it had been a perfect ending for a believing Christian.
At first, I went into coping mode.” I can handle this. ‘Phone them, write to there, get the forms from the metal file and so-on.” I remember Victoria Wood saying that in Hindu tradition, the widow throws herself onto the funeral pyre in a grand gesture. We say ‘Get 32 baps Connie; You slice and I’ll butter!”.
That phase didn’t last long , since simple things like lifting two mugs off the shelf to make a cup of tea brought a tear, and a deep helplessness. Then a sense of nihilism followed-”What is the point now? I have done all I promised to do, and cared ’till the end. So what? Why take care of myself or exercise or watch what I eat?
Then I developed new routines, in an attempt to rebuild without dismantling something that was fundamental to who I was, and that was hard. Because each time I did something just for me, I felt guilty; as though I were denying the relationship we’d had.
It took loving friends who were walking beside me to encourage and affirm what was happening to me. The best ones still are those who simply listen,and allow me to come to my own conclusion. This journey is different for everyone who takes it, and the least helpful has been the one who says, ” I know what you are going through”, and then tells the story of what happened to them. My journey may have similarities, but their journey is their own. So thank you to all those who have walked quietly beside me over the past six months. Thank you for love and for prayers and for encouragement- especially to the lady who said, “They say that time heals old wounds. It doesn’t, you justget used to living with them.”
With Love and prayers of gratitude.