Things have been kind of sad lately. A deep kind of sadness that just sits inside my tummy and at times I cry, but at other times I just feel really, really sad. I think it’s called grief. And I think I’ve been smacked in the face with it a bit lately.
The past two weeks have been tough. I’ve had to farewell two of the most precious ‘older’ women in my life; my beloved and beautiful-spirited, Aunt, and my most treasured and sweet, Nan. (I dare not say ‘elderly’ as I know that they would both give me a clip beside the ear despite the fact that they have about 40 and 50 years on me, respectively.)
Both women have shown me a strength and independence, especially in recent times, that is not always seen in females born during or before WWII.
Both women have shown me that happiness can be found anywhere you look and I know they both enjoyed little more in life then seeing me, and the rest of their family, happy.
And both women have shown me that generosity and benevolence is a responsibility that we should each take upon ourselves with enthusiasm and pride.
While there is some comfort in the fact that these remarkable women are no longer in pain, whether it be physical or emotional, it saddens me immensely that they will no longer be in my life. A life that was certainly made richer by their presence, kindness and, above all, their love.
But I’m not sure this post is really about my Aunt or my Nan. It’s about the process of living, loving and inescapably dying, and doing so happily and healthily through the sadness that this process brings.
The truth of life, so I’m finding, is that it’s not always rainbows and lollipops. There is a dark to the light. There are highs to the lows. So smile whenever tears aren’t falling, because it seems a time will come when they will eventually fall again. This probably sounds a bit bleak, but they do say you can’t know true happiness until you’ve felt real sadness. And I think I’m learning about true happiness in amongst this sorrow.
Some words that were said by the celebrant toward the end of my Nan’s funeral service the other day seem to have stuck in my head:
“As we accept life, so too, must we accept death as the inevitability of life.”
I’ve been thinking about that an awful lot. Accepting life? What does that mean? I figure, if I could understand that, perhaps I could understand better how to accept and deal with death. And this is what I came up with…
Accepting life means to acknowledge it. To enjoy all that our world has to offer, to breathe in the smells of the ocean, to lie on the grass and let the sun (or even the rain) trickle gently onto your skin.
Accepting life means to allow yourself to live. To experience new things, to travel to far away places or to taste new foods.
Accepting life means to believe in all that it can be. To feel happy when you are surrounded by love, to feel grateful when you’re tired, instead of grumpy, and to inspire this belief in those around you.
So with these conclusions drawn I feel that I’m somewhat closer to being able to accept death as an inevitable part of life. I know I’m not the first person to lose a loved one, and of course, I won’t be the last, but I guess we each go through these learnings in our own time. And, I guess my time is now.
While I’m not a particularly religious lass, I believe wholeheartedly in the spirit and the soul, and that there is no end to this part of us when our body and mind cease to remain. I don’t know what happens next, but I feel in my heart that the loved ones I have lost have not gone completely. Instead, they live on in us and our memories, and tell us they’re happy and warm with a twinkle of the stars above. And rather then focus on how much we miss them we should feel lucky that we had them to love, and love us, at all.
Knowing that my time here in this world won’t be forever (but damn sure I want to leave my mark in a big way), and with the influence of these two marvelous women, I will try just that little bit harder to acknowledge life, allow myself to live and believe in all that it can be.
There was a beautiful song played at the end of my Nan’s service the other day, one that she actually had chosen for that occasion months earlier. It was called ‘We’ll meet again’ and was made famous by Vera Lynn during WWII. I’ve shared a video of a lovely performance of the song below because I think it is a fitting way to look at things when someone we love dies. Take a few moments to watch it, to listen to the lyrics, and to remember someone you no longer have in your life, but were lucky enough to have known.
My favourite two lines from the song speak to me so loudly that I can hear my Nan’s voice singing it, and I know these words will speak to me for a long time to come…
“Keep smiling through, just like you always do.
Until the blue skies, drive the dark clouds far away.”
And so, with a thousand kisses, two giant hugs and a smile all the way through, I say farewell to my beloved Aunt and dearest Nan. Thanks, yet again, for helping me learn another one of life’s lessons. I promise I will keep learning and, I promise, I will never forget you. xx