We don’t get taught how to grieve, how to mourn, how to be when a loved one passes away. There’s no live class, there’s no elearning, no learning offer. Only experiential learning by living through it. There is also talking with your trusted few and many a book on the subject, but the only way to truly learn is one of life’s hardest lessons. If ever we wonder about how we will act, or how we will be or feel, if indeed we do wonder about these things, it never occurs to us that we would go on a course. Can you imagine the course marketing? Or the introductions at the start of the class? Pass the Kleenex. Yet, as absolutely difficult and horrible as it is, no matter who we are and what we believe, death is the one certainty which binds the human race together. We all need to learn this stuff, and many of us do so at our most vulnerable and weak.
Life is cruel and hard, but equally light and celebratory. Not everything can be taught. Many things need to be felt to be remembered and dealt with. Since the tragic illness and death of my uncle in May 2016, then mother in law in May 2017, life has never quite been the same. Sadly, since then I have mourned many other lost lives, both human and pets. I have attended several funerals, each as unique as the beautiful soul who has passed. Such has been my life that is why I have not felt like blogging for well over a year now. Who wants to share those stories? But I know we should. We need to talk about the one thing we all have in common. Why don’t we?
Today I am attending the goodbye of a respected colleague who I first met on Twitter. We once shared the stage at a conference, delivering ignites, a first for us both. Paul Taylor-Pitt spoke first. He was amazing. We then had to follow him. Eek! A kind and lovely soul, she was supportive to me in her own nervousness. We shared an exquisite moment, a look before I took to the stage. It is sad she is no longer with us. One of our own. Gone, having shone brightly whilst she was here.
It feels to me like a good way to grieve is to remember a life well lived, with kindness and honesty. Talk about them. Remember them. Celebrate them. But more importantly, I have come to learn, talk more about death before you go. Discuss what you would like to happen to your organs, for example. Give away the things you love whilst you are still here to those who will have them when you pass, that way you can enjoy them together. Share what type of life celebrations you would like. What hymns do you adore and want people to sing for you? What flowers do you want to share? Or maybe none, leaving them where nature intended. Perhaps you would like a tree planted in your name. You can only say and do these things when you are here, not when you are gone. People can learn how to grieve if you teach those you leave behind.
In the meantime live life well whilst you are here.
This blog is dedicated to Malcolm, Anne, John, Mr G, Liz, Mary-Jane, Kandy, and my little Pixie.
Postscript: Unknown to me at the time, my volunteer teammate passed away the day I wrote this. I learnt about her passing the following morning. So I hereby add her to my dedications. To Janet, a fundamental part of our L&D Team, already massively missed.