It seems that each funeral service I deliver, each family I spend time with preparing a service that honours and respects their loved one, there is a running theme. Surprises!
Sometimes these are delightful surprises. The ones when in the midst of the pain and anguish that can accompany grief, people are surprised by a memory or a story that had been forgotten until the family is sitting around the kitchen table sharing their memories of Nan or Dad…
“Do you remember the time he gave himself a shock using a knife to get the stuck toast out of the toaster?”
“Did you know that Nana had received an OAM?” says Mum. “No, I don’t even know what that is!” replies number three grandchild. “It’s the Order of Australia, which is an order of chivalry established on 14 February 1975 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, to recognise Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or meritorious service.” (Thanks Wikipedia!)
Sometimes the surprises take the form of memories that happened before younger generations were born or people married into the family. The story of how Nan and Grandad met and how different their 1928 wedding was from the kinds of weddings we see today.
Sometimes the surprises relate to our emotions. When we think we have our emotions in check we can suddenly find tears rolling over our eyelids and down our cheeks like water over Niagara Falls. In grief, our senses and emotional responses are heightened. We can become more sensitive to stories, to noises, to music. That sensitivity can take the form of emotional overwhelm expressed as anything from irritation to outbursts of laughter – when others might not be able to see the funny side of things.
So, go easy on yourself and others in times of grief. Expected the unexpected. Take pleasure in the moments of surprise that can delight or elicit a much needed chuckle. The entire gamut of human emotions is what makes us human. It is what makes our lives the rich tapestry of stories, memories and treasured relationships.
Enjoy the unexpected surprises and create some delights for yourself and others!
We have just one life…
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Just One Life… doing and designing dying and death differently and with dignity and distinction.
For more information on doing dying and death differently or to start thinking about how to handle a death of a loved one before you are overtaken by grief, organise a conversation with Jacqui today.
Call +61 (0)412 741 531 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacqui Chaplin is a Lifetime & End-of-Life Commemoration Specialist (a funeral celebrant among other things) based in Melbourne, Australia. She loves capturing stories about the nature of life and being human, as well as, celebrating and commemorating well lived lives and lives that have ended. Jacqui has a passion for bringing the conversations that many of us find difficult to think about, let alone speak about, out in the open so we can see how our stories, values and beliefs influence our attitudes.
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