Daily Archives: May 5, 2011

Thursday Afternoon Blues

“Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.”  ~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross 1926 – 2004, Swiss-born psychiatrist and author.


MPH LogoThursday afternoon always finds me in an introspective mood.  Because this is the day that I serve lunches at our local hospice.  Sometimes Thursday lunch is a joyful experience as I mentioned in past blogs; sometimes it is sad and sometimes, like today there is a general air of disquiet, unease about the place.

There was no particular reason for this.  But smiles met with pained expressions from those going through painful experiences both physical and mental.  Even those patients whom I had interacted with before seemed particularly withdrawn.

So I asked myself, why would this be.  It was like a miasma had descended on the place.  In my reading and learning I know that thoughts can affect not only people but also places.  I clearly remember the feeling that was left in the church when there had been a funeral immediately before I ran a wedding rehearsal.  The grief, anguish and tears felt and shed at the funeral were palpable.  Yes, some of the other people who worked at the church were skeptical when I said this.  But I do believe it is so.

I began to think of myself in this situation.  Coming to the end of my time here on earth.  How would I react?  How would I cope with this smiling person who asks me “How are you today?”  This of course, is the way in which we normally greet somebody.  But this is a far from normal situation.  The person to whom I am speaking is nearing the end of their journey in this life and they obviously are not great.  So I have to rethink my greeting.  If anybody can help me with this I should be most grateful.

I then got to thinking about how I could make my transition from life to death easier for my children.  When my husband died 13 years ago it was very sudden and we really had no idea what he would have wanted, apart from knowing that we had both discussed cremation.  My children took over the planning for the funeral without any real idea of what their Father would have wanted.

Some weeks later, when the dust and the fog in my brain had cleared somewhat, I found a page on which he had written the kind of funeral and the hymns he would like.  Well, it was too late.  The funeral had been held.

So I have put together a file for my children so there will be no question of what I want.

  • I want to be cremated and my ashes placed with Robert’s
  • I want the funeral to be in a church not an undertaker’s parlor
  • I don’t want lots of eulogies – I would rather people said nice things about and to me when I am alive
  • I don’t want lots of flowers and prefer the money to be donated to Mary Potter Hospice
  • I want my son and daughter and my grandsons to be pallbearers
  • I want my friend and organist at Old St Pauls to play a hymn – Jerusalem
  • I want there to be singing as well as the hymn.  I recently attended a ‘joyous’ funeral.  And this is what I want.  For many years my mantra has been “I hope you dance and I particularly want my favorite version  played – “I Hope You Dance” by Leann Womack.

Oh and I really like this poem and would ask my daughter, she of the fantastic voice, who read “Stop all the clocks” by W H Auden at her father’s funeral, to read this:

She is Gone

You can shed tears that she is gone
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back
or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her and only that she’s gone
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
or you can do what she’d want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.
David Harkins, English author, poet and artist.  1958 – .

I am sorry to be so serious today, but I truly believe that we should all make provisions for our passing out of this life into the next (if that’s what you believe).  In any event, we are going to pass out of this life at some stage.  My children took over all the funeral arrangements after their Father died.  I would like to think by this forward planning on my part, the chore will be easier for them the second time.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. “ 1817 – 1862, American author, poet, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister,  historian and philosopher.