Death – It’s personal!

This is a somewhat personal post, and so, as such is of course coloured by my memories, the passing of time, and my own “growth spurts” on mental and emotional levels.

July sees the 10th anniversary of my father’s death. I suppose now that I think about it – it was a relatively “good” death (from what I have studied in becoming a celebrant) – he did not suffer greatly, and for four of the seven days that he was hospitalised, he was in a comatose state – I sat there for hours on end talking to him – I don’t know if he heard me, but quite possibly I bet he was thinking “when the heck is Julia going to run out of her 5000 woman words for the day?” – I’ve always been chatty. The biggest problem was that he was too young – just 65 – he had only retired three months before.

My father’s death was a pivotal event for me – it caused me to sit up, take stock, and truly evaluate the things I valued most precious. What did I want to achieve with my life, where did I want to be, and what did I want to do? Of course this did not happen straight away – first my Mum, up and left to come back to England (with my complete support), then my dear friend had twins, I was running my business – so there was a lot I could focus on before it got to me.

I have always known that I want to be useful, of service – it hinges around my core values if you like, and I always believed that I would do this through my cooking – that is until quite recently. From the unlikely suggestion of a dear friend, I seemed to find myself venturing in a new direction, finding a different approach to being of use. My training with UK Society of Celebrants, was just beyond description – I sobbed over characters as I researched them, taking them on, making them real, wanting to test my skills over and over. It was not all doom and gloom, I have had some good laughs with my characters too.  And I have been nurtured by a fantastic tutor, now my mentor, into I believe somebody who can be of use.

So what does all this have to do with my father’s death? Well, ten years on, I realise that my father gave me the greatest gift that he could – for my life as it is today.  Together with my training his death taught me exactly what my clients, my families will NEVER experience.

Bought up in a Christian home, but with no “fixed” local church that he attended, it was assumed and arranged by the funeral directors that the service would be held in a church – by a minister that had never met him. I don’t particularly remember her, other than that she was a lady. She also never met us! The funeral directors got the music wrong – we did not want Amazing Grace but we got it – the very first hymn … one of my friends mentioned that she remembered me sobbing – I remember shaking silently with laughter because it was just all so off – so wrong. So impersonal, hard, she was  going through the motions of just another funeral – it was like we weren’t there for my dad’s funeral at all – and anyhow – that coffin was just not big enough for my dad – he was larger than life – my silly, funny, loveable, humorous, sometimes irritating, one and only, through good times and bad DAD.

I do know that grief can do many, strange and bizarre things. I also know that time blurs the lines. But I can tell you this – not one family entrusted to my care for any celebration of life ceremony, will ever be shown such a lack of feeling or non-involvement – I work with carefully selected funeral directors who care about their clients more than they care about the bottom line. And I will do whatever it takes to make that day, the best day that it can be – in honour of, and memory of their loved one.



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