At 29 I’ve been to more funerals than I care to remember; as a child when I didn’t really understand, to friend’s, to family member’s, being there to support past partners, and, more recently, my wife. But this October I had to attend the most difficult funeral yet, that of my Grandma. As the Vicar ended the service letting Grandma know it was time to dance with the planets and stars and towards those who were waiting for her it was then it hit me. She’d really gone.
A couple of days later after burying her ashes in her family grave I sat on the train back to Brighton crying, I’ve no idea if I attracted strange or concerned looks from my fellow passengers. All I knew was that I needed, wanted even, to restore some sort of order in my mind. Why wasn’t there a universal grieving manual I could turn to tell me what to do?
As I sat there watching the world speed by me I got thinking, is there a right way for us to grieve, to say goodbye and accept that our loved one has really left us behind to continue our lives without them.
There are numerous articles, web pages and self help books telling us how to cope. Each one is so very different. Yet not one of those appealed to me. Then I thought why do I, why do we, feel the need for permission and instructions to bereave. Animals go about it just fine on their own. We hear of dogs pining, elephants trying to wake the fallen member of the herd and monkeys sitting by their companions for days. Yet somehow they get by, and no-one told them what to do to move on and continue their lives. They just do whatever comes naturally, their instinct tells them.
Why has the subject become such big business, from funeral directors to self help authors; people seem intent on making money out of the inevitable and preying on those in their hours of need.
After ticking over with my random thoughts, a few days later I realised just what I needed. To just let it happen. To just be. Sometimes I don’t think about it, and that’s ok. Other times I shed a tear, sit with my memories or take extra care when putting on a necklace Grandma gave me. That’s all ok too.
There are no rules. Just do what comes naturally, seek comfort in religion or spirituality, a memory or photo album, anything at all you hold dear.
No matter what you do, it’ll always be the right thing.