Feb 8, 2012

Final Goodbyes.


I attended a funeral yesterday.  For me, the death of an elderly relative is so close to my everyday work that the usually clear line between my work and personal life gets blurred.  In the days leading up to the funeral, I was pragmatic.  My uncle was in his late 80s and had endured years of medical intervention and treatments that often left him quite exhausted at the end of each day.  His physical frailty was at odds with his mental sharpness but he found ways to still engage in his hobbies and maintain his religious faith.

My uncle last illness was a brief one.  He appeared to be in a deep and peaceful sleep.  Days earlier, he had met with his parish priest.  In my professional life, I would argue that this would be the 'ideal' way to 'go'.  To not linger through pain and indignity and for loved ones to be left only with the best last memories of the person they knew and treasured.  Yes, though death is very sad, at times it can be a blessed release.

In the days that passed between his death and the funeral mass yesterday, I remained convinced of my logic and did not cry.  But as the service began though, so did the tears.  Because of so many things.  The hymn  'Amazing Grace' being sung.  Seeing my aunt on her own, in the midst of her own grief but also able to be concerned for how I was coping.  Her outward calm as she made sure things were just so.  And then her one public moment of grief by her husband's coffin as she took a single yellow rose from its floral arrangement before returning to her pew.

It is one thing to be 'prepared' and pragmatic about death but it is another when it happens to someone you love.  The grief is often not so much for the person who has left behind their physical pain but for those who are left behind.  

My uncle's early adult life was one of constant change and uncertainty against the backdrop of war.  He survived largely because of God's will and the experiences of those years shaped the rest of his life and were never forgotten.  I was honoured when he told me his story that first day I met him when he welcomed me into the family just before Mr SSG and I were married.  It was his hope that his family would never forget the past and also that we would stay close to one another.  They are hopes that I am glad he was able to see materialize.

Goodbye and God bless, Uncle J.  May you rest in peace.


  1. A beautiful post. I attended a funeral last week for someone who fought a long battle with cancer and had the same logic right up till the service itself where my tears flowed for the partner and children he left behind. Its true that death is a release for many and life should be celebrated but sometimes shedding those tears can be more healing than we know X 

  2. This is a lovely post, so eloquent and heartfelt.

    I'm so sorry for your loss.  It's never easy saying goodbye to a loved one, no matter how much logic and justification there is that they are better off now, or have had a good life etc.  It always hurts, and it always will.  Time does make things easier though.

    May your uncle RIP.  

  3. I'm so sorry for your loss. Your words are beautiful though and have me sitting here in tears myself. I'm sure that your Aunt is surrounded by many loving family members including you who will also help her in the days to come. I hope that you've all found some comfort with one another today. 

  4. beautiful post SSG... my nanna died last year when she was 98, still didn't make it any easier, even though I was so 'ready' for it.

    I'm sorry for your loss. x

  5. So sorry for your loss SSG (and Mr SSG).  You write so well that I was transported to my own experiences and reached for the tissues (don't tell anyone). RIP Uncle J.

  6. I think sometimes we can all be a bit professional and forget that we are human beings too.

    It is always the music that gets me at funerals...  For some reason bag pipes really get to em.

  7. Sorry for your loss SSG. The wonderful memories you create with your uncle with always be with you. xxx

  8. It's never easy. I'm sorry for your family's loss.


  9. Thinking of you and Mr SSG ... and of your Aunt - as you say, seeing someone left alone is enough to start the tears flowing. x

  10. So sorry for your loss. :( My Grandmother passed only a month ago so my understanding of your feelings at the moment is very fresh. Wishing you and your family all the best during this time of healing. 

  11. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss, my thoughts are with you and your family. May he rest in peace xx

  12. You're all such lovely people.

    Thank you for your kindness and support.

    SSG xxx

  13. Thinking of you and your family SSG.  So sorry for your loss - if only we could keep everyone we love forever.

  14. So sorry for your loss. 
    One of my husband's childhood friends just lost his mother a few days before Christmas. I didn't even know her, yet at the funeral I was so overcome by grief watching her husband, broken as he was, trying to tell us all just how very much he loved her. 
    Whether it hits us near or far, it is simply one of the hardest things mankind ever deals with. I pray you all are comforted knowing he has shed his earthly problems and is at peace.


  15. Thinking of you and your family L&W xx


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