I have thought long and hard about writing this. How to say goodbye - is it a celebration of life and love?
Everyone has different ways of saying goodbye to someone they love. There is no right or wrong way to approach this. I have been involved in some of the most heartbreaking, difficult and overwhelmed families discussions, as they approach what needs to be said, to navigate the needs of all the family.
Good honest discussion, planning and remembering a loved one is never an easy place to be. It takes guts to honestly feel into that place of grief. When someone we love dies we tend to go into automatic pilot, there are so many decisions to be made, people to be notified We tend to just put the grief on ‘hold’ and do what needs to be done. It is often after the funeral service that the ‘outbreath’ takes hold. The outbreath is really the beginning of the grief and the mourning period truly begins. We have seen our loved one’s physical body being placed into the hearse or lowered into the ground and they are ‘gone’. I have witnessed at this time, the beginning of the realisation of the person really being ‘gone’. Families gather their arms around each other and start to breathe into that realisation that they will never be together again, in the way they were before.
Ceremony marks the transition from one place to another. No matter the type of ceremony, there is a threshold that we mark at this time. Marking transitions in an authentic, deeply held way can be a truly healing experience. Not healing from the grief, that takes time, sometimes a long time. This transition can lead us from the disbelief to the belief…We can have a softer landing in the heart, knowing that friends, family and community came together to step across that threshold with us.
Lately the ceremonies we have been involved with have given us a deepening of understanding about the importance of ceremony. It has been heartbreakingly inspirational to help families and friends look at what is important to them. Whether it be a special place, words, songs, that space just to be and remember or the coming together. Ceremony tends to have a life of it’s own. It fulfils something deep within the soul and is remembered for a long time to come. Having a space of ‘no time’ , of being in the moment as things unfold as they should, people reflecting and speaking into this space, holds the memories being made close.
Give yourself and your family the opportunity to say goodbye in your own way. Always remember there is no right or wrong. Have courage to step into that place in the heart that ‘hurts’ that may feel like you are drowning, and say goodbye the way you need. It can be a celebration of life and love or it could be a whole snotty, tissue howling kind of day. It is what it is.