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  • Grief - and Angels - Come in Many Guises

    I am feeling very loved and supported by all the expressions of sympathy, condolence and encouragement that are reaching me by card, email, text, phone etc. I am indeed, very blessed.

    Grief is a strange thing, and as I always say to people for whom I conduct funerals, having affirmed and normalised their feelings, there is only one correct way to grieve - the way that is correct for you. 

    I'm not a crying person (except over cats). I suspect I may be mildly 'on the spectrum' as my emotional responses are certainly far away from the 'median, mean or mode'. And those things are OK, even though it can lead to my grief responses being misread or misunderstood, and even though the misunderstanding sometimes hurts as deeply as, if not more than, the grief itself.

    This morning as the challenges of funeral organising reached their peak, I became very, very aware that not only are my ways of grieving utterly different from my siblings,  trying to hold the resultant tensions can prove too much even for me! The important thing is that we got there, and everyone's key needs will be met.

    I have done almost all the practical stuff for now, and as I sat in my favourite Social Enterprise, suddenly came an overwhelming weariness that wasn't just tiredness from the travel or from holding it together, just a deep-rooted soul-weariness that, I think is how my grief is expressing itself.  And I am more than content to sit with that heaviness, in my own space, with my kitties for company, knowing that I am surrounded by a cloud of angels who come in many guises.

    I think 'angel' is an over-worked term, but in it's proper meaning as messengers of good news, of hope, whose timing is impeccable, then many of my human friends and acquaintances have been, and are being, angelic.  The lovely cards with carefully chosen words; the emails with beautiful, thoughtful poems; these perhaps are not so unexpected, yet their significance is huge.  There are also the unexpected ones, such as the lovely people at the end of the phone for the NatWest helpline and the branch manger in Glasgow... just the simple phrase 'I'm sorry for your loss' carries so much healing power (especially when the registrar recording the death didn't even introduce herself).

    The 'last act of love' I can give my Mum is the funeral she requested, and, whilst that is a challenge in many ways, I will do my utmost to ensure it happens.

  • Legal Record...

    Much of today has been taken up with the legal recording of my Mum's death. This involved a fair amount of traipsing around, data giving, paper signing and document delivering.

    Tonight I travel home in possession of a legal document that records the cause of death as 'old age and extreme frailty.' In an era when causes and explanations are demanded, it is somehow the more precious for "old age" to be the cause.... Worn out, job done, life lived....that's as good as it gets.

  • Packing up...

    This afternoon, after we had been to meet the Funeral Director, my sister and I went to the care home and packed Mum's personal effects.  In under two hours, we had bagged/boxed everything to be taken away, filled several bin sacks with rubbish, and left items that could be used by the home, such as wool, dominoes, jigsaws...

    It was good to chat to the staff, many of them quite shocked by her sudden death, and it was good to have a tidy ending.

    As ever, it felt odd to drive away from somewhere for the last time, knowing another chapter was closed.

    Quite sobering that after more than 80 years, a life can be packed up in a couple of hours, and that, in a few weeks at most, someone else will enjoy the room that has been Mum's home for the last couple of years.  I read somewhere that the average 'dwell time' in a care home is two years - Mum managed that almost exactly.

    It feels positive to have so much practical stuff done - though all the 'legal' stuff has to wait until Monday.

    I have been incredibly moved by the messages of condolence that I have received, and feel very much the embrace of prayers and love that I know are surrounding us all at this time.  I know it is very early days, and I know the finality of it all has yet to hit me, but God is in it all, and sends angels in many guises.