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  • tdonnelly87

You've got to go through it...

I've always absolutely loved an occasion. Anything that encompasses tradition and celebration with a sprinkle of individuality completely grips me. That's one (of the many) reasons I became so determined to get into funeral, something so traditional that has grown and developed with the influences of culture and time amazed me. The values and certain aspects are always there, but at every service there is that part of the person shining through, whether it's in the songs chosen, the flowers in their favourite colour or a eulogy given by a family member or friend.

Very often when a loved one passes if they have been poorly for sometime, family life becomes a bubble. Only nurses and doctors come in for the necessary, but other than that, the way of life that develops is very private. Then when they pass it can feel that as undertakers that we pop that bubble, coming in and taking away your loved one, who has become your reason for everything. I always try to talk to families and assure them I understand that feeling entirely. When my Grandad was poorly we were in the bubble completely, and when he passed (to the sounds of Barry White) and the undertakers came, it wasn't like they just took him, they took something so big it felt like a hole we could never fill and that we would all eventually fall into, as if we had nothing to hold onto that would keep us stable.

I say to families that we are not there to break anything, but also not to fix it either, although we wish we could. We are there to help them navigate the ship, not to steer it for them.

If you ever read the book The Bear Hunt, you'll remember the message as "You can't go over it, you can't go under it...you have to go through it" and that right there, is grief. The only way out is through, and though when you get through life may never be the same remember, life is a journey not a destination and your strength of getting through the darkest of times will be exactly what lights the way for the days ahead. And us, as undertakers, sometimes viewed as a dark and depressing profession, we will be there holding the torch till you're ready to shine it yourself once more.

That doesn't mean we don't feel your pain, or are superhuman and unaffected by the sheer awfulness of grief. After bringing a young woman into care once I had to pull over as I was sobbing so badly, literally unable to drive thinking about the loss that family had endured. And very often when I attend a home that has lost their king or queen, I find myself mentally back in my grandparents living room, remembering how when my Grandad took his last breaths it felt like an avalanche was surrounding us as we surrounded him. Something so very loud and devastating, yet deafening and silent crashed down around us all. Those are the times that get to me, when I see the similarities. People are often so shocked I'm not more affected by the passing of children being a Mother myself. But I feel that I relate, and therefore am affected more, by the families that are experiencing the loss I have felt too.

Funeral is a wonderful industry to be a part of, and everyday I'm so honoured that I get to be a part of someone's final goodbye. There are tears, but also so much laughter and every now and then that little bit of magic that reminds me exactly why I'm so lucky.



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