It’s that time of the week again, and I’m feeling a little melancholy.
Earlier today I had the pleasure of attending a breakfast meeting at the local chapter of BNI – the Bay City group in Geelong.
It was an informative and interesting meeting, and there were a few people there with whom I’d like to connect again – but that’s the whole idea of the group – networking.
I’d been invited to go along with the view of promoting my book, and I have been asked if I would like to come back early next year to talk about it. So that’s great news for me, because it’s really time to promote the book, and to live up to my promise that I would get the message out that we all have a responsibility in preventing suicide.
After the meeting, a member came up to me and introduced himself, and then proceeded to talk about a suicide that had occurred yesterday here in Geelong. We seem to be getting more than our fair share of them lately.
We talked for a while and he was quite upset, despite not being closely associated with the family of the victim.
Now hearing these types of stories is nothing new for me, in fact I get it a lot since I have written the book, and started talking about it. All of these sad stories touch me deeply, but this morning it really had an effect on me.
As I walked back to my car I kept thinking “Crap!!” ‘Shit!!” There’s another family in total devastation and just before Christmas too. Not that it is really any different at another time of the year. It’s just that Christmas comes with it’s own special reminders, and to have a suicide fall into that time is doubly painful.
So now we are coming into that period of time that wherever you go, people are saying “Merry Christmas” and “Have a lovely Christmas”. It can be difficult when you are thinking that there isn’t much to celebrate when a loved one is not there anymore. My first few Christmases after Kelly died were awful, especially the initial one. I think I cried most of the day, but now I just remember her as the special person she was to me and to many others. I still get sad that she’s not here in the flesh, but I know her spirit is with us and I choose to honour that.
I set out to save a life, and I may never know if I have, but I’m going to think that if I haven’t already, then I will shortly. Kelly’s story is probably not much different from thousands of others, but in telling it, my hope is that it will resonate enough to make a difference in the life of some one.
Since starting to write this post, I have been asked to tell my story to three different groups next year, so I will definitely be honouring my promise to Kelly.
Now as someone cheerfully pointed out this morning – there are only twelve more sleeps until Christmas day – to me it is not about presents anymore, but rather about being with the people that matter to you.
And, if you can’t be with them, remember them and enjoy the memories.
When a loved one dies, it usually falls to an immediate family member to deliver the Eulogy.
Sometimes there are a number of family members who participate in delivering segments of the deceased persons life.
Or it may even be a close friend who is called on to recount stories and facts about the life just ended.
As the eldest and only son, it fell to my husband to write his fathers eulogy – a tribute to his life. A big responsibility.
Out came the foolscap pad, and he proceeded to write pages of things that he knew about Dad, peppered with facts from his childhood, memories of his sporting achievements plus his participation during World War 2.
He laboured over this, scouring his memory banks for interesting things to mention, to raise it above a dry and boring recital of Dad’s life.
Some amusing incidents were recalled – and they generated some laughter amongst the mourners – most likely bringing their own memories to life again.
Because Dad was a Veteran, a member of the RSL came to share the facts about his service during the war. Dad, like many who returned from those hellholes or “Theatres” of war, didn’t speak much of his time in the RAAF.
He’d mentioned bits about his training; some anecdotes like being violently seasick when he was moved via ship up the coast of Western Australia, and his last flight home to Melbourne from Darwin.
But what was most interesting was to hear the places he’d served in, that none of us had heard before. It was a “Wow – I never knew that he’d been there!” moment of discovery. Amazing really when you think you know all about someone, to learn a whole new part that hadn’t been talked about.
Still, unless these snippets of information are written down for the family to use, it makes the task rather difficult for someone who wasn’t around for a lot of that part of life, and then spending years growing to the point of being interested enough to ask the right questions.
So our discussion this morning, the day after the funeral, was about the lack of information available to surviving family members. We have decided that as it will be our lives that are summarised at our funerals, then it is up to us to write a basic eulogy of the facts of our lives.
Then it will be up to those left behind to use or not, or to add their own special memories to the facts. That way they will know the facts are true, and wont be worried that they’ve left big chunks of our lives out because they didn’t know about them.
Quite thought provoking actually, to stop and think about what you have achieved so far in your life. Have you done enough? Is any of your life of interest to others? It probably is, but we generally don’t think much of what we’ve done and tend to make little of our achievements.
Writing Kelly’s eulogy was both difficult and easy. When a person hasn’t lived a very long life, there are not that many achievements to speak of. All you can really talk about are the positive aspects of their life, and talk about the funny moments. The difficult part is that you have to write it at all, too soon.
So the next task on the list is to work on my eulogy, to ensure that all my facts and achievements are recorded accurately.
What about yours?