The grieving brother stood for a long period, shaking at times, until finally he gathered himself and then shared his most profound statement.
“It’s hard for me to get this out…”
Then in a very contained singing voice he sang two verses of the well known opera melody, Santa Lucia, performed sixty three years prior at his brother’s wedding.
Why was it so hard to get out?
The difficulty of that moment intrigues me. The depth of love and regard between people, especially family members goes to the very limits of our soul, and it seems that at moments of death and farewell we touch the edges, embracing the reality of a life concluded.
Love needs expression. Grief needs a voice.
My suggestion: Find whatever avenue you believe necessary for your deep regard for another to get out! You will often be amazed at what happens next!
How many times have I heard in the last few months of people, not tragically killed in an accident, but diagnosed with a terminal illness and gone within weeks? Short answer… too many!!!
I sometimes rant… here is mine for TODAY…
Every person in your life, make sure the last words you say to them, leaves them in a better place!
Every moment you are aware of things, be in that experience 100%,
because there is a reason for it that will come clear somewhere down the track of life.
Every pain and annoyance needs to fit into the bigger picture,
because it too will pass, and even if it doesn’t there will be gold linings to it somewhere, sometime.
Every joy will fade, every difficult will lessen, every darkness will lighten…
it is the cycle of life eventually morphing into death.
So, today, as you read this, look at those you around in a new way, walk out if you need to [for a moment at least] and breath in the day.
Right now, as I write this, it is gently raining outside. I’m wide awake at 3:05am, and I am determined to live this moment with words and passion that speak loudly without screaming.
Rant finished… passion shared…
Tell me what keeps you going in your life… would love to hear a little of your fire!!
So many times at funerals I facilitate grieving relatives or friends coming to the microphone, prepared to speak, even with a written speech in hand, and when they arrive they are suddenly overtaken by emotions welling up from somewhere deep inside, often a place they have never been before. Their preparedness vanishes like the early morning mist and they become totally consumed by tears or a deep gutteral convulsion or a choking throat freezing their ability to speak.
I don’t see this as a negative, but I note the phenomena, having witnessed it numerous times in many different types and ages of people.
Let me propose a theory… There is an aura around a microphone, with a radius of one or two steps, where emotions are corralled, ready for any unsuspecting person with the desire to speak of their treasured relative or friend.
Most people try and push forward, pressing further into the difficulty, squashing it down and not give it the significance it demands. They try and contain it so as not to be embarrassed or make other people feel uncomfortable.
My response… Having discovered this phenomena in my own emotional journey at times, I do the opposite. Simply… if I sense an emotional moment arising within the microphone aura, I step away, at least one step’s distance from the microphone and lectern and then allow the emotion, the constriction of the throat or desire to cry, to pass, to subside like the ebbing wave crashing to the shore. With the time taken, always allowed within a farewell context, I compose my thoughts and emotions, becoming very aware of my inner self, refocus and tackle the task at hand. Emotions haven’t been denied, but rather given the space and time needed for them to live their natural life.
The microphone aura is no longer the powerful monster it once was, but if acknowledged, like a powerful breaking wave, it becomes an experience you endure and survive. The ceremony continues with the dignity and honour it deserves and you’ve grown massively in the eyes of your audience.
What do you think of the theory?
Have you experienced this aura yourself?
At funerals or during other occasions?
I would love to hear from you if you have an opinion!
As the world farewells our much loved Whitney, her Bodyguard lead partner, Kevin Costner, shared a question so many people ask underneath the surface… one that many high profile people ask, but also a deep underlying fabric in many people’s demise.
AM I GOOD ENOUGH?
It may be a question you have asked of yourself. But, like Whitney, it may be a question that has grown to become ‘the monster on the TV screen’, way larger than it should be.
Whitney, thank you for what you have given this world, the many lives you have touched.
And to you, the reader of this blog, yes you are good enough. You have something that only YOU can bring to life.
If you don’t know what it is…
Make that your life mission. Yes, you will be good enough, because all you have to be it the very best you!!!
All of the children, and there were seven, had been denied access to their father. Not their choice, but one of an aging man, struggling with a painful past and complications of self-medication – alcohol! In fact his medical records declared, no family on record.
It was only in the last year, with a chance meeting at a local horse race that an RSL representative, the carer of this ailing gentleman, met one of the seven children and broke the agreement of children not knowing.
The declaration came, simply, “Did you know I am caring for your father?”
Larry, the son, shocked at first, gradually allowed the excitement of a possible reunion before his ‘old man’ passed away sink into his consciousness.
The gathering wasn’t easy, definitely didn’t reach the expectations of a Hollywood reunion, but the family did get to connect briefly before the digger’s guilt and shame closed the shutters on any possible healthy relationship.
With the veteran’s passing, the family could rally, gather at his farewell, and say their words of goodbye, allowing the rejection of their patriarch to dissipate with the playing of the Last Post.
Yes, Jack had his struggles, fought his demons, lived on his own for quite a few years and rejected any sense of connection with his family, but at his dying moment hints of relationship with his offspring allowed warmth to revive and encouraged love’s revival and a dignified farewell.
My suggestion: Let someone’s passing vanquish any pain and hurt of their connection with you. It’s a choice you can make, definitely now that they’ve gone!
The retirement village rarely had farewell ceremonies but Stan was such an active part of this relatively new community. He was responsible for either instigating or supporting numerous events that helped build a true camaraderie amongst the residents.
With Stan’s departure, Dot, his more fragile and private wife, wanted to honour him by preparing a farewell that allowed his friends, drinking partners and fellow residents to say their goodbyes and thus a memorial service was organised.
With forty-five minutes of words and memories coming to a conclusion, Frank sang his signature tune, My Way, and on the spur of the moment, Stan’s son stood, took the hand of his very shy step-mother-in-law and danced intimately till its fading moment.
With hardly a dry eye the guests watched a moment, overawed by the honour given, the respect and gentleness shown between this bold couple.
My reflection: When spontaneity enters a farewell something special occurs for everyone present, a gift to be treasured forever!
She was the fourth speaker to come to the open microphone, farewelling a confirmed octogenarian bachelor. But it was the words that surprised…
“Sometimes I call him Ernie and sometimes I call him dad.”
What was she really saying?
This lady, in her late forties, explained in the next few sentences, of knowing Ernie all her life, having lost her own father to suicide during her childhood and Ernie, a neighbourhood family friend, took over as the significant male.
The roles we play in people’s lives, often those we know little about, are more important than we realise. The people we have influenced over the years, positively or negatively, has been greater than we might have imagined… let’s hope it’s been positive!
My suggestion: Leave people with smiles on their faces and warmth in their hearts!
When considering a farewell ceremony, a funeral or a memorial service would you lean towards a public ceremony or make it a private occasion?
What are the parameters around which would help you make a decision?
Dot was still ‘undone’, shedding many tears in the process of recounting the life of her husband of over twenty years. They had shared wonderful times together, but Stan was a very private man despite being an organizer of people. The local retirement community loved him and had several events embedded in their calendar because of Stan’s influence and energy.
Now this retiree faced a dilemma. Dot didn’t like crowds, but knew of Stan’s high profile in their village, meaning many people would want to gather and say goodbye to this special man.
So Dot nobly put her own needs to one side, thinking of her friends in the community, and began organising a local farewell to the man she and the community admired. Yes, it was public, bringing honour and healing to those missing this high profile organiser.
So, was it the correct thing to do? Or should the community just get on with life without Stan?
My thoughts: Taking the time to remember and honour a life concluded is vital, not only in the well-being of the individual, but also the health of a community!
Two hours of my life were invested in listening to his partner and sister share the story of Matt’s final chapter of his active life [only SIX WEEKS], from the warning signs of severe headaches and blurred vision to secondary melanomas and finally palliative care over the final days and hours of his altered existence.
To pass away at home was such a blessing, especially when surrounded by those you love. But… only days away from turning forty, the song at his farewell said it all – ‘Gone Too Soon.’
Matt, you’ve reminded me again of my need to write more profoundly, to live each day as though it is my last… and to stop ‘fiddle-farting’ around with disappointment and depression, being scared of rejection and failure.
The obvious advice for this day… get your body checked regularly for melanoma, especially if you had loads of sun exposure during your youth.
But the more profound wisdom… be real with those you love, because one day it will really, really matter! May the rains soak into my heart and bring it peace!!! Thanks, Matt… farewell!
“How do you keep doing this every day?”
When asked this question, more regularly than I first imagined as a funeral celebrant, the ego part of me wants to thump the chest and declare myself a true hero, an amazing person that can handle incredible depths and complexities of emotions.
But you and I both know there is another, and much better answer.
Before answering, though, let me turn it back to you for a moment. Honestly, how do you keep doing what you do everyday, because I don’t think I could.
If you’re a teacher, a mechanic, a full-time mum, a real estate agent, an office worker, a high flying entrepreneur… I can only imagine what it must be like to daily show up for more, with enthusiasm, passion, interest, expertise!
But I do know I have arrived at a wonderful point in my life where I deeply enjoy what I do, the people interactions, the variety, the income… to name a few. There are many things scratching my itch, that keep me going through those challenging moments.
Do you love what you do? Is it only finances keeping you there?
Dare you think about what you really love, and how you’d really like to spend your day!
My thought: Life is way too short to be not doing what you really love. It’s part of your DNA, and the world deserves an excellent and real YOU!!!