Tag Archives: Death

Just Another Thursday

“Death crept quietly into the room
Where once there was laughter, talk and tears
Now it is no more
Silence reigns
Death has replaced life.”
Judith Baxter 1938 –

It was just another Thursday for me and for many others.  But for one family at least, it was not.  I arrived at the hospice to be told that a patient had died.

I had got to know this particular patient over three weeks that he had been in the Hospice.  A cheerful youngish man (difficult to say just how old he was – maybe 40) he was a joy to speak to and was always surrounded by his wife and family.  I do not know this man’s name.  Only first names are used at the hospice, but I was cheered by him on Thursdays when I saw him.

He had obviously come to terms with his life ending but I don’t think his wife and family will have yet.

So for his wife and family I offer this poem from David Harkins (replacing the pronoun she with he):

“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 that she’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
or you can be full of the love you shared…………
…………Or you can do what she’d want:
Smile, open your eyes, love and go on.”
David Harkins 1959 – Silloth, Cumbria, UK
Read the full poem here

Rainbow

My rainbow

And I will share my rainbow with them.

More Than The Spoken Words Can Tell

For you are beautiful, and I have loved you dearly
More dearly than the spoken word can tell

It’s 7.30am; I am sitting at the computer in tears.  They have just played Roger Whittaker singing The Last Farewell on the Radio.  I have written before about music and how it takes us back to another time and place in our lives.

I seem to go to many funerals these days.  My friends are mostly my age and so it is to be expected.  But this song immediately takes me back to the most moving and beautiful funeral that I have attended.  I have no recollection of my husband’s funeral although I am told by family and friends that it was beautiful and moving.

My husband’s closest friend died after a long fight over several years.  I saw him a few days before he died and we talked about Bob (my dashing not-so-young Scotsman) and of the fun the four of us had over many years.  And even though the death was not unexpected it was still hard, particularly for his wife who was lost without his guiding hand that had been there for more than 40 years.

His family had been involved as undertakers for many years and although the business was no longer in the family’s hands the funeral was conducted in that chapel.  I was given the supreme compliment of being asked to read a poem at the funeral.  My husband of course, would have been asked if he had been alive. The poem was Death is Nothing At All by Canon Henry Scott-Holland, 1847-1918, Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

So on this lovely summer day here in Wellington, on the 54th anniversary of my wedding day, I am once again reminded that life is transitory and we must make the most of each and every day.

“…Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other that we are still……
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well.”

Yesterday – A day Without a Post

On Monday evening I received the news that a good friend had died.  It was not altogether unexpected as he had been in and out of hospital quite a lot in recent months and always came out cheerful and looking ready to continue with his place in the world.  But not this time.

And yesterday I spent time with the widow.  How that brought back those early hours and days when my husband died.  And even though I have been there, in that self same situation,there was no way I could really understand just what she was going through.  We have to come to terms with the death of somebody so loved, and so close , each in our own way.

I phoned early in the morning and got the answerphone and it brought this poem by Michael Laskey to mind.

“After he died he went on speaking
On the ansaphone: he’d apologize
For being out and ask us to leave
Our names and messages after the tone.
At first we couldn’t, we just hung up, ….”
From Life After Death by Michael Laskey
English poet. 1944 –

How often in the months following my husband’s death did I find something that was so full of him that it brought a fresh wave of grief and tears?  A slip of paper on which he had written himself a note, a card I had given him on a celebration day that he had used as a bookmark, his notebook with his writing, his Cross pen that always went everywhere with him.

It is always the little things that undo us.  We think we are strong and coping and then something small happens and we are right back into that trough of despair that we thought we were climbing out of.

So what could I do to help?  I cooked a fillet of beef so that it could be there for when people call in to express their condolences.  I remember my daughter-in-law saying how much she appreciated those gifts of ready prepared food in the days and weeks following my husband’s death.

It was too soon to exchange remembrances of her husband and so I could only sit with her and hold her when the tears came.

I found that those friends who just came and sat with me, speaking only if I wanted them to, were those that helped most at that time.

So I shall go back today to see what I can do, if anything, to help.  And sit with her while she processes what has happened in her mind and somehow gets herself ready to face the months and years ahead.  There will be time for memories to surface and for laughter to accompany most of them in the months ahead.  But for now I shall just be with her.