Last week, I attended the fourth family funeral in the last six years. I really hope it’s the last, for a good while yet, but I’ve come to accept that you never really know. Life is short and you never know what’s next.
I don’t mean to be morbid, or whatever you want to call it, but death has preoccupied my life for the last six or so years. I don’t write much about it, for some reason I like to keep things separate – to align all my little internet boxes neatly, trying not to let different things overlap. But today, I thought, well why the hell not? Why do I want to keep this little bubble of happiness going? I mean, it’s not like everything I write on here is upbeat and positive. It’s certainly reflective, and I figure, well, I’m not the only one. And it’s a part and parcel of life as much living and feeling are.
The thing about death is that it gets you. Even if you’re expecting it, it takes you by shock. Even if you think you’re prepared, you never are. Even if you think that you’ve dealt with your feelings, you never have – another feeling comes and takes you by surprise.
My first grandparent died over eighteen years ago, and last week’s service for the death of my grandfather, her husband, took place last Monday, eighteen years later. It tied in nicely, taking the whole thing in a circular motion as the service contained the same hymns sung then. It’s nice to know that he’s finally at rest and back with his wife I was only seven at that first funeral, and as such wasn’t allowed to go. But I do remember that day. I remember staying at home, with some of the other children and while I don’t remember much else, I do remember that sense of wondering about what was going on – knowing that something had happened.
This week, I was reminded that funerals are a celebration of life, a chance to remember someone. It’s also a chance to talk about someone’s earlier life, how they were, what they did before you knew them. It’s often a reminder that their lives were different, their hopes and ambitions so real, and not the older person that you knew. It’s a chance to reflect on how little you really knew them, on what you didn’t know.
It blows me away when people you haven’t seen in a while or people you don’t necessarily expect to come, turn up to support you and make sure they’re there for you.
You can take death in different ways. You can let it bog you down, preoccupy you, or you can rise up, embrace it, experience it, and become stronger. But, there is no prescribed way of dealing with it – nor will you know till it happens to you.
Death and grief are curious beasts. It’s something you carry with you for the rest of your life. Even when you think you’re okay again, you’re not really. You just find a way to adjust, to cope, to live. Because life has to go on. And the worst thing would be to not live a life. But when you’ve just lost someone, sometimes you feel like nothing will ever be right again. But in some small ways, although things are never the same again, never can be, you do find a way to be right again – but just in a new way.
And most of all there is always hope.
Here are some of my favourite Harry Potter quotes about grief and death. And believe me, the books are jam packed with brilliant and moving quotes, so this is just a small selection. If you have anymore to add do feel free to leave them in the comments below, I would love to read them.