Funerals, love and a hole through the ceiling. Things I learnt this month.

Coffin decorating party. Surprisingly sweet, fun way to send off loved ones.

It’s been a crazy, crazy month.

Two weeks of holiday and hanging out on the Gili Islands unexpectedly turned into a month in the UK dealing with the death of Gayle’s mum, the last days of Gayle’s nana, grief, funerals, house clearing, family get-togethers, British beach walks in spring, sorely needed, beautifully deep reconnection, countless sweet tender moments brought about by unearthed little memories and the sense of realness and presence that comes about in times of great distress.

Thanks to this last month I’ve brought back a few snippets of advice for myself which I’d like to share in case anyone else finds them helpful and also so friends can hold me to them:

  1. Make a will. That way your possessions will go to whoever you want them to go to whether that’s your next of kin or the spring fling from 2007.
  2. Think about your funeral. Making important choices on behalf of a deceased loved one is hard and no one wants a send-off that misrepresents them. So whether you want to be buried with a ceremony from your religion of choice or to be turned into a tree amid a big booze up, it’s best to let loved ones know while you’re alive and kicking (and make them take notes).
  3. Keep your papers in order and ideally let people know where everything is. When one day you will go pouf off this earth, someone will need to deal with everything you leave. If you’re anything like me you’ll have things all over.
  4. Connect with family and friends. Funerals bring people together but we could also just decide to meet up just because.
  5. Tell loved ones you love them and appreciate them. Then tell them again. It’s surprising how difficult it is for us to feel really and truly loved and how easy it is for us to lose track of that in our daily stories.
  6. Take pride in being there for another person. The gift of care and presence in times of need is absolutely priceless. Don’t shy away from giving it fully because you’re scared it’s not wanted. Give it anyway.
  7. Be yourself at all times. Do it with gentleness and grace. When faced with someone in great distress it’s easy to just go along with things to keep the peace. This leads to even more distress for both of you.
  8. Ask for help. Trying to do it all and then feeling abandoned and uncared for will get you nowhere good. People are usually happy to help and even if they resist a little it’s important to make your needs clear.
  9. The shittiest things life throws at you usually come with many blessings attached. Don’t forget to look out for them and let them in.
  10. Give people big tight hugs and leave helpful notes near everything. Both make life endlessly more beautiful and easier to navigate.

Bonus point:

  1. Stay strictly on the rafters when walking in lofts to avoid half hanging out of a largish hole in the ceiling.
Coffin decorating party. Surprisingly sweet, fun way to send off loved ones.
Coffin decorating party. Surprisingly sweet, fun way to send off loved ones.