Take a Little Time to Sit with the Deceased
A couple of weeks ago while up to my neck in legal compliance work (my profession while I develop my celebrancy brand) I saw a very interesting tweet about taking the time to sit alongside the person who has died.
This was incredibly poignant for me and I’ll explain why;
Back in 1996 my first love was killed in a tragic air accident out in South Africa. He was the current world champion micro-lighter determined to defend his title. He hit a thermal at 2000ft and dropped out of the sky. Meanwhile back in the UK in August 1996 I was busy with my then young sons and excitedly awaiting the return of my wonderful first love. It wasn’t to be. Life changed, although for the worst in many ways in the long-term the experience gave me value and a love for moments of laughter, friendships and family albeit as I struggled along for many years after the experience.
There were the nights when I would dream that he was still alive but, having had a bad accident was too afraid to fly home. When I woke I would truly believe that he was still alive out in South Africa, waiting for me to join him. So many times, as I slept we would be at parties together, going on outings and such like but, in the dreams I would have an overwhelming knowledge that we had to make the best of our time because it would end very soon. The dreams were chaotic and rushed to cram in everything possible. Every time I would wake up feeling bereft and lost.
Wind forward to January 2002, a Friday evening; I had been for a meal out in Leicestershire with a friend and, as we reached the junction between my home and my parents home the call came through from my brother. Lia, its dad, you need to come now. We stopped, my friend took the wheel and we raced towards my parents. Another call came through, ‘Are you on your way?’ and then as we drove up the hill the next call ‘He’s gone’.The car had barely stopped as I ran to the door, through the door, past my mother and my brothers, straight to be with my father.
He had gone but the room was incredibly tranquil. I sat and I stayed sitting with my father, with dad, with Wally for what I think could well have been an hour. I sat and I sat. I talked and I talked. I held his hand and talked more. Every now and then a concerned mum or brother put their head around the door asking me to come away. I was calm without tears. My family remained concerned at my desire to sit with dad but, the hindsight worked well. As I spoke to dad that night I was looking up and behind me, talking to him, aware that he may be watching me, who knows – I mean who truly knows? I had already read enough Elizabeth Kubler-Ross Death and Dying to have a very open mind.
While the grief was significant and very different to my loss back in 1996 there was one thing that was very different. There was no denial, there was no questioning and there were no distressing dreams. My mind was assured, my mind knew that dad had died that night. I had dreams about dad but the dreams were so different, he would be seen driving past me with a smile and waving at me as he passed by, he would be climbing a mountain to reach the top, smile and wave, always tranquil with no hint of distress or chaos. The words of Thomas Dekker (1570-1641) reflect the peace of mind I feel when I think about my father;
‘To awaken each morning with
A smile brightening my face;
to greet the day with reverence
for the opportunities it contains;
to approach my work with
a clean mind; to hold ever before
me, even in the doing of little
things, the ultimate purpose
toward which I am working;
to meet men and women
with laughter on my lips
and love in my heart; to be
gentle, kind and courteous
through all hours;
to approach the night with
weariness that ever woos sleep
and the joy that comes
from work well done – this is
how I desire to waste wisely
From my own experience, although it is very distressing when someone close to you dies I would wholeheartedly recommend that where the circumstance of death allows, spend time sitting, being and talking alongside the deceased, I truly believe I found a level of peace by doing just that.