I feel as if I am in a perpetual state of sleep deprivation. Unlike the last time this happened when my babies were babies, this time it doesn’t receive the punctuated bonus of a baby’s smile and giggle. This time, I am just limping along, functioning at a metaphysical level, limping along at an almost surreal pace. It is how I imagine an out of body experience, watching myself from afar at my underperforming and weakness. My clients have all been fantastic. Marvellously supportive and understanding. Thank you all. Normal service will resume presently.
For many the recent heat will cause them to be in the same sleep deprived state. Added to that the horrific events taking place over recent weeks in Manchester and London, and it is hard not to see the whole nation as limping along. We are living in troubled times. For my family however, the heat and terrible events have simply added to an already complex set of personal extenuating circumstances. Nothing adds clarity and sets the night time mind racing more than the sudden illness and death of a family member. And nothing makes work seem more insignificant than staring down the barrel of that particular gun.
What I have come to realise over recent months is that as a nation, as a society we are rather unprepared for death. We are unprepared for the process of death. We are unprepared for the act of death and the aftermath too. We so rarely ever talk about it. If we do, it is through coping mechanisms of black comedy, Brit grit and a brave face. It is never about the horribleness of it. The reality of it. The sadness of it. I guess therein lies the answer. Who wants to spend time talking horrible stuff when we would rather be sharing a laugh and the lighter side of life? This is why we are unprepared. This is why death hits us like a slap in the face. This is why we find ourselves limping along.
Last week was my mother in law’s funeral. She was 67 years old when she died after a short battle with a rare and aggressive cancer. She was my children’s Grandma. And now they are sad. They cannot articulate their feelings because this is the first time they have been through this process with a grandparent. I can see they are tired, they are angry and they are helpless. They were unprepared but what they know is that the best chocolate cake in the world will never be made again.
Other than the cathartic nature of writing, why am I publishing details of my private life in my work blog? Two clear reasons actually. Firstly, I genuinely want to give a loud public thank you to all those who have supported us over the past two months. The staff at St Francis Hospice in Berkhamsted deserve all your support and donations. They are all wonderful and it is a beautiful place. Similarly the Rennie Grove nurses are amazing too. So many healthcare professionals, including friends local and national, plus our family and the few Tweeps that knew have given me such strength and energy on tough days. Thank you all too. Indeed my Personal Learning Network and our wider friends have taught me life goes on. Dipping in and out of their lives on social media has helped our life feel normal on days which were far from it. Thank you.
Secondly, not to diminish the value of the thanks shared above, my main reason for sharing is that I genuinely want you to be encouraged, not scared to talk about the one thing we all have in common. It is simply not the stuff you want to be talking about when you have days left to live. You want to be sharing stories, remembering good times, thinking over a life well lived. You do not want to be thinking what hymns do I want at my funeral or what colour flowers are important. Worst still in those final days you do not want to have to think about who you are going to leave your most treasured possessions to. So don’t. Think about it now whilst your end is hopefully years away from you. Write this stuff down so your loved ones don’t have to think about it at a traumatic and stressful time. It is not morbid, as British convention might have us believe, to think about our death, to plan our funeral, to write a detailed will. It is sensible. And it is kind. It is kind to those you are leaving behind. Be kind. Leave your loved ones to grieve, to mourn, to feel sad, to make sense of their life after death. Help them to get back a spring in their step.
If you are personally affected by anything in this blog, I hope these links will help you. You also have my prayers and best wishes.