Tag Archives: death

Living eulogies & obituaries 


There were perhaps 200 people at her funeral. The church was packed, even more than it had been 18 days previously when she walked down the same aisle arm in arm with the very same vicar before she watched her eldest daughter marry. 

We stood there at the pulpit LJM1 & I, and read her eulogy. We took it in turns, a paragraph each. I laughed at recalling a memory involving a donkey. I didn’t cry, not until everything was over and we were outside the crematorium. I felt remarkably strong, just as she had been when confronting what was facing her. 

She didn’t tell us she was dying. We knew there was no cure and that she was running out of options but she hid it well (she had planned to tell us but she didn’t have as long as she thought in the end). It’s not as though you can prepare yourself anyway; knowing outright wouldn’t have made it any easier. She made sure she left plans, made things straight forward. Shortly after her death I found a notebook in which she listed the steps to go through. She thought of everything: bank accounts, death registration, pension. I remember touching the page of the notebook where her hand probably rested. She also told me something one afternoon in LJM1’s old bedroom. I don’t know why we were in there but we were gazing out of the window looking down the street and she told me to help our dad find someone else. I kept it to myself for a long time, until it was needed. Even when faced with the most horrific outcome for herself, she made a decision that would have broken her heart to vocalise. She was truly selfless.
One of the RAKs that is in the pipeline got me thinking about her eulogy and about living obituaries. I wish she could have heard what we said and I wish she could have read everything we’ve written about her in this blog. Perhaps then, we should take the time to write a living obituary to our loved ones? Show those around us how much we value them now in the present day and not wait until they are no longer around to hear what we have to say? 

Perhaps we could use it as a self-evaluation tool? What would people say about me? What would I want them to say? We encounter self-evaluation in work all the time, but realistically how many of us evaluate ourselves & try to improve ourselves in our day-to-day lives? We don’t set ourselves ‘targets to improve’ bar an often light-hearted New Year’s Resolution that lasts a couple of weeks. Perhaps it’s time we did. I guess that’s what we’ve done these past 11 months. We’ve definitely thought about others in a different way, looked into their lives more and tried to understand them. But what about when our initial project is over? It certainly won’t be the end… It’ll soon be time to evaluate and improve once more!

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You didn’t even say ‘hello’

Despite my previous post being about grief and losing her, it’s not something that I talk of often at home. However, I have had chats with my biggest little one about her, about mummy’s mummy.

So it was somewhat out of the blue that, in a brief moment of Sunday-afternoon quiet, Little LoveJoinMe1 piped up, “Please can I go up the big rock (where her ashes are spread) to say goodbye to mummy’s mummy because … because she, what’s it called? Is it died? Because she’s gonna … died?” 

I was so taken aback. I gestured for him to come and sit next to me and I hugged him while I said “She’s already died”. His response was a simple “but I didn’t say goodbye!” I explained how she died before he was born, “was I in your tummy?”, “No, before that”. 

I’m not sure where it came from. But more and more he is showing me his perception, his emotional intelligence and at not even four and a half years old. It’s reflected in the tone he uses, a gentle voice, quietly probing because he knows it makes mummy sad. 

We were telling daddy about our conversation later and as Little LJM1 said “I didn’t say goodbye”, his father said, sadly, “you didn’t even get to say hello”. Neither he nor Little LJM1 have read my previous post on grief yet this is precisely what I had written about. He didn’t get to say hello. Hellos are infinitely happier than goodbyes.  This makes me saddest of all. My little boy: he sees it with a clarity and gentleness beyond his years. He makes me proud and he makes me want to tell her

That’s the thing about grief 

Grief is a mess. A big steaming pile of … spaghetti soup. 


I remember being told that her days were numbered (as I returned from a honeymoon break no less) and feeling utter shock and disbelief. Was this really my life? Her life? It was like some kind of dystopian reality where nothing made sense anymore. Arriving at the hospital, I tactlessly announced that my phone was about to die. The irony of that was lost on no one.  Everyone else seemed absurdly calm whereas I was not. The days all blurred. Bizarrely, there was laughter and comfort and games of scrabble. One afternoon, I laid my head next to hers and picked up her almost-lifeless arm and draped it around me. I fell asleep there like that for a while, at peace where I had always felt at home. I never got to talk to her but I know she knew I was there.  

Months after her death, LJM2 and I had a few conversations about how grief was not what we had feared. The fear of death happening was worse in many ways. It didn’t mean that it wasn’t significant, that it was not bad (believe me, grieving a parent is horrific); we meant that we were surprised by our ability to cope and adapt and to still live.  Like she said in a radio interview just before her death: when asked “how do you cope?” she said,

You just do; you have no choice. 

It has now been six and half years since she died. You will notice that I refrain from using euphemisms which soften the harshness of death words. I always do. She’s not sleeping, with the angles, she’s not passed. She is dead and that is the reality we have to live with. 

In that time, we have lived through many stages of grief, even seeking answers as to when this will feel better. The truth is: it won’t. There is a new grief every day. We mostly accept that but it feels impossibly hard with every new experience. Every new moment brings her absence to the fore. She is not there. She does not know her grandchildren. I struggle to understand how some of the people who I love most in the world have not met each other. 

My children will not know how the tip of her nose always felt cold, how her body always felt soft, how she made a little click noise when she gave a kiss, the concentration face that she pulled.  Furthermore, each time the little LJMs do something amazing I want to tell her. I ask questions that will never get answered. Just this week the biggest little one tried out school. Was he like me? Was I that brave? Her absence is felt so profoundly each day.


Others seemingly forget. Others move on (and that is ok).  Some expect you to be over it. I’m even imagining all sorts of eye-rolling at the mere discovery of this project and blog. However, this is our reality. This project is helping. It’s helping us and it’s helping others. The last stage of grief? 


But that’s the thing about grief. There is no last stage. The grief dies with you, leaving someone else’s new grief in its wake

Death 

This blog is meant to be uplifting, though its ‘uplift’ has stemmed from loss. Tonight, I can’t help feeling consumed by sadness at our world and the evil that seemingly resides in it.

I did not know Jo Cox. I had never even heard of Jo Cox. Yet tonight I am deeply sad and moved to tears watching the news. A woman, not that much older than me with children of similar ages to mine, murdered in her home town. Two children who will barely remember their mother, who will grow up without her.

I can’t pretend to know how that feels. Losing her was the hardest thing I have ever endured but I was an adult, able to process my emotions, try and understand it, almost prepare for it (though nothing can prepare you). These are two small children. How can they even begin to process where their mummy is tonight? When I was out giving blood last night my husband put our children to bed, little LJM2 asking repeatedly for ‘mummy’, as she always does. I wasn’t there and she slept. I can’t comprehend how that, for those children, that is forever. Mummy isn’t coming back. My heart is breaking for those children.

Losing a mum is like a special sort of ugly club that you don’t want to belong to.  At the same time you find people who understand you and it. No one wants to be in that club. No one wants others to join them. When they do, the club members feel like they should have the words to say to the newly bereaved but they can’t find them. At that moment, there’s nothing more awful and nothing anyone can say to make it better. I am a lucky member as I joined fully grown. There should be no children in it but now there are two more.  A mum is a guiding light, there to raise you to adulthood. In all intents and purposes, mine fulfilled that role. Jo never got the chance. She was a wife, a daughter and a million other things too, a rising political star by all accounts.

I am angry as well as sad tonight that someone thought that it was ok to take her life. Just why? When did anything become more important than life itself? We will probably never know the answers. Tonight our thoughts are of her.

16 years

If I were her, I would have 16 years to go until my diagnosis and 21 years until my death. If I were to go when she did, my children would barely be adults.

Morbid? Perhaps. But thinking like this makes me realise how important it is not to get caught up in negativity. Like most things, that’s easy to say, but if you surround yourself with positive things and positive people then you’re half way there. Unfollow those people who annoy you on Facebook (it’s more positive than delete – they won’t know or get upset!). If you do positive things (like Random Acts of Kindness) you’re two thirds of the way there!

I am forced to consider myself lucky. After watching a tear-jerking episode of DIY SOS last night I do feel lucky – some people don’t even get what we had with her.

Cliché or not, life is too short, no matter what age you go. There will always be things you didn’t get to do and things you didn’t get to say. No one really knows when their ‘end’ will be; no one knows when their loved ones will go. So, be kind. Say your  I love yous. Surprise someone – a note, a text, a smile, forgiveness… whatever it may be. Spread positivity. 

Her last words to me were “I love you”, and mine to her. Not because she was going, but because that’s how we always ended things.  I wish I’d been inspired by a project like this when she’d been alive. She would have been on the receiving end of so many acts of kindness!

Love! Join me!