Many years ago I published a fund raising publication raising funds and awareness for a cancer charity one of my lovely writers at that time donated a piece entitled ‘Empty Spaces’ which talked about the empty places at functions at his local cricket club as one by one his dear friends were gradually dying around him.
I am mindful that last weekend a lot of people will have experienced Father’s Day without their Dad, (myself included) and may have found the day difficult. I have heard it often said that grief is the price we end up paying for loving those we hold dear.
As I discussed over the weekend with a personal friend the intensity of our grief is related to the depth of the relationship we had with the family member or friend that has died. As usual, one of my positive reminders I like to share is to celebrate their life rather than focus on the way they died or what caused their death. I.e. Cancer, heart attack, stroke, a tragic accident and possibly suicide.
The time to tell those you love them is of course whilst they are here and you may just be saying it on a day that they really need to hear it and appreciate it. As always we keep those we love alive, in part, in our mind and in our hearts.
I have just returned from a funeral and we all take what ‘fits well’ for us from the minister’s address. What was particularly nice today was the minister knew the deceased and her family well and it was personal. What I really liked was how he reminded the bereaved that the community were there for them, and in this case it really was true. We were all there to celebrate a life and were united in that.
As I always say in life we only get out what we are prepared to put in and when people give of themselves to others it is no hardship for that kindness to be returned. During the day’s events I had some interesting discussions with various attendees; both friends and family members who openly shared their feelings about loved ones they had lost.
I had a great chat with a lovely elderly lady and we agreed how comforting it is when nice things are said…but more importantly we discussed how it is also true of telling those we love them and appreciate them when they are alive.
I often post saying tell those you love today and every day. Live your life well and as I said to one lady have that second ice-cream..especially on a hot day like today.
Having many strings to one’s bow often means that some aspects of who we are and what we do get neglected. Mine of late has been my own writing projects in terms of both marketing them and writing itself.
My regular followers and friends know that the past few years I have been a mature student and also working with dementia clients and their families which has taken me away from ‘my writing babies’. So today I am back being a writer and dusting off my manuscripts along with all the other poor tortured writers and back pitching…
At a family event this weekend I was reminded about one of my very special projects now available on Amazon. ‘A Mother’s Love’ which includes great advice from my mentor and best friend:-
Earlier this week relatives, friends, colleagues and neighbours said a fond farewell to the amazing Zena Skinner. This great lady will be missed to those that knew and loved her in her home village of Redbourn.
Known globally for her fame as a TV cook and celebrated author of many cookery books she was also a keen fundraiser for the Keech Hospice…the collection on Wednesday at her funeral was also for the hospice so even after she lost her own fight with cancer she goes on to help others.
Aside of her culinary skills and community work she had a fantastic sense of humour and that is how I will remember her; making a group of ladies in the village hall kitchen howl with laughter with her collection of funny voices, and, her talk at the U3A 2016 gave an insight into the fascinating life she led…with her tales of being a Wren as young woman having the audience laughing all afternoon.
As I said to our wonderful Reverend Will Gibbs who took the funeral:
‘The Zena I knew would be saying why all the long sad faces?’
In my privileged position in working with the bereaved I recognise that everyone grieves in different ways, at different times and in a family unit it is a very difficult time for all concerned.
One of the key things I have noticed is how parents hide their own feelings from their children feeling it inappropriate to cry in front of them. Of course this is to be expected and in a way for some admired but for the grieving parent who may have lost their life time partner it makes their own journey placed on hold to a certain degree.
The British way of being strong, keeping a stiff upper lip is one which frustrates me terribly and this, I speak from personal experience; as a child surrounded by adults set on surpressing their own grief and probably my own too. I always maintain to speak of our loved ones and remember them keeps them alive in our minds, our hearts and of course helps the bereavement process…to deny their existence is not only cruel but of no use to anyone.
If you know of any one mourning a loved one reach out to them and communicate, let them talk, let them cry if they need to…it’s normal. Most of all do not avoid visiting and please do not stop mentioning their loved one either – think of a funny story or a great occasion you shared.
Well done to all those ladies that took part in The Real Full Monty Ladies Night for breast cancer awareness. It was emotive yet positive viewing and the more that awareness helps with this disease the better. There were some very brave ladies taking part all credit to them.
Having lost two relatives to breast cancer many years back one can’t help wondering if more information was available and they had been privilege to the awareness we have now whether their stories could have been different.
Having worked within the not-for-profit sector for many years it is no secret that awareness is just as valuable as the fundraising for on-going research.
Regular followers will know one of the cancers I like to raise awareness for is Oesophageal Cancer which is so readily mis-diagnosed or left undiagnosed. Too readily people reach for indigestion remedies which as we know often just mask symptoms rather than cure them.
If you are having repeatedly problems do not self-diagnose but go and see your GP and where necessary insist on being referred to a G.I. expert. There are so many treatments and procedures that specialists can offer before your problem perhaps turns into something more sinister.
Please visit the Oesophageal Patients Association’s website:- http://www.opa.org.uk
St Saviour’s Tree Festival is in full swing. I visited Sunday to see all the amazing trees decorated and sponsored by local charities and organisations.
This year there are two lovely memory trees where one can add a message in memory of a loved one lost. As we know it is a times like Christmas when we may be missing and remembering somebody we have lost this year. As I often post bereavement is not an overnight process and for those mourning the pressure to feel happy and festive can be overwhelming. For those who may have nursed a loved one with cancer the bereavement journey can be a complicated one with delayed grief mixed with feelings of relief that a loved one is no longer suffering.
‘A Mother’s Love‘ is available to download from Amazon. An emotive view on the special relationship between a mother and daughter inspired by a mother’s teachings and a mother’s love.
Cover illustration designed by Paul Manning
My regular and lovely followers know that I like to help charities and causes with awareness and October as we know is breast awareness month. Today is, I am told, ‘wear it pink‘ day for the Breast Cancer Now charity. I hear and I obey and I am suitably attired in pink.
For my own family we are very ‘aware’ of breast cancer having lost my maternal Nan and Aunt to this particular cancer and had my own scares. I will say however, that for all of us, every week, month should and must be breast cancer aware and regular examination is crucial – as with many types of cancer the earlier we discover anything untoward the better chance we have of maybe beating the odds.
For anyone caring for a loved one with any type of cancer ensure you get any support that is available for both your loved one and yourself.
Make the most of everyday and make it count.