Three deaths and four funerals in six weeks. It was a tough time for the Jones family. It left me in a state of reflection. A matriarch died after a well lived life. The life of a woman of 53 years was cut cruelly short by leukaemia. And a man of 75 lived well beyond his expected years. The second and third deaths in the family were of people that I had met at the previous family farewells.
It is of Amanda’s story that I will focus on here. It is a story of devastation, illness and loss. It is a story of love, strength, perseverance and acceptance. It is a story that speaks to a desire to remain an important part of people’s lives after death. To capture the story of a life well lived.
In less than 10 months from diagnosis to death, Amanda fought the good fight. She ensured that she spent time with the people she loved, doing the things she loved doing. Inevitably, treatments were no longer able to enhance the quality or increase the longevity of life. After a month, the “go home and get your affairs in order” conversation was had… the prognosis was a life span of days.
It was at this time that Amanda asked me to visit. To sit with her, hear her story and capture it in written form. For three hours, Amanda and I sat close together. She shared her childhood story, her career and vocation story. She told me of her loves, the people she met, the experiences she treasured, the achievements she was proud of, her values and beliefs, the messages of love and respect for her family – who were all sitting around the room, listening to what parts of the conversation were important in any given moment.
She endured, although obviously tired, until she felt she was finished. These stories became her legacy, her way of being remembered. They became the eulogies that were shared in her ‘family only’ and her ‘public life’ celebrations. And finally they have become a lasting tribute to her life and loves, her story and her passions.
Her story, her life commemoration – celebration – services, the tributes, poetry, songs and images, the messages of love, sympathy and condolence have all been gathered into one book – a place of solace, remembrance and love – that her husband, her family and her friends can immerse themselves in the torturous early days of grief as well as when the mind’s memory diminishes and dwindles. As their grief takes a different form, Celebrating the Story of Amanda becomes a place of fond reminiscence. A way to share Amanda’s story, values and legacy with those who were too young to remember and those who did not have the opportunity to experience her in life.
Capturing your life story, however short or long, detailed or in high level pages is possible for everyone. You can write your own, you can provide a framework of information for others to write your story or you can be interviewed – comprehensively or otherwise – to have your story captured and written by an expert with an exceptional understanding of the human condition through questions, exploration and unfolding of insights – all the important stuff of your life.
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.
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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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