This week the world is mourning the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Closer to home, I am mourning the death of my precious Dad.
The Royal Family and I are worlds apart on so many levels, yet grief is something no one escapes in this life.
At the end of the day we are all daughters or sons, wives or husbands, grandchildren, aunts and uncles….
The COVID pandemic has also shown us how linked we all are no matter our race, our financial situation, or where we live. None of us are exempt from the restrictions and devastating effects this virus has had, on individual lives, the economy, plus we are still unsure of the extent of this devastation, as waves of new outbreaks continue around the globe.
Grieving In A Covid/ Chronic Illness World
This week has been so intense, planning a funeral for my Dad. A funeral I can’t physically attend.
So many people around the world have missed out on funerals of loved ones due to COVID restrictions.
The irony is I’m not able to attend, not because of COVID, but because this is my chronic illness reality. I can’t travel in the car for the 2 hours it takes to get there. We are not sure if I could even make it to the funeral on the day if we did try and travel there, and it’s quite likely I’d end up in hospital.
I know I’m not alone in this awful situation. Many disabled and chronically ill people have to forgo farewelling loved ones everyday because they can’t physically attend.
Going through this has been eye-opening. In some regards COVID is working in favour of the chronically ill, as funeral homes are offering live streaming, or Zoom links, so family members can attend virtually. This service is often included in the price which is great.
In my case, Dad’s funeral is a graveside service and the cemetery doesn’t have a hotspot to allow me to attend via Zoom. At least not without the right equipment and experienced technicians. The funeral home could live stream from there but because it’s not in their chapel, they charge an exorbitant price.
Attending A Funeral When You Can’t Attend A Funeral
So my husband and I decided to think outside the box. Forget about the “norms”, as let’s face it, there is nothing normal about life at the moment.
The funeral will be videoed by a family friend which is lovely. I’ll be able to watch it post funeral.
However, I want to do something to mark the occasion when my Dad is actually being buried.
My husband is an Anglican minister and has officiated at countless funerals over the years, so I have to confess to an unfair advantage. However, the plan we have come up with can be easily adapted to suit anyone’s situation.
So here’s our “attending a funeral when you can’t attend a funeral” plan….
- Create your own private memorial service which can include but is not limited to:
- Your loved one’s favourite songs
- Bible Readings
- Write your own Eulogy to read as part of the service
- Watch videos of your loved one or a collection of photos on your TV screen/mobile device (prepare a few days before)
- Dress up as you would if you were attending the main funeral service:
- If you live alone, invite a friend or neighbour to join you:
- Organise some special food to enjoy post your private service:
- While enjoying the food, watch your loved one’s favourite movie or TV show.
The list really is endless and as you start planning I’m sure you’ll be surprised how many ideas are generated.
Grief is a horrible thing, particularly in the very raw stage of shock. This is the stage when funerals need arranging and family interactions are at an all time high. Emotions are all over the place, for everyone, and chronic illness is likely to flare, making a difficult situation even harder.
Remember to look after yourself now more than ever. Some simple self care actions can make a huge difference to your ability to cope a little better:
- Increase your rest periods;
- Put your phone on silent for a while;
- Get some fresh air;
- Eat small meals often;
- Keep hydrated;
- Call your Dr if you are not coping;
- Share your feelings with close friends/someone you can trust to let you debrief;
- Ask for extra help with anything you’re struggling with;
- Have someone plan your “private memorial” service with you;
- Watch something relaxing on TV when you are starting to feel overwhelmed.
Life Will Never Be Quite The Same
When we lose a close loved one, life will never be the same again.
In the early stages of grief, it’s impossible to understand how life will change in the coming weeks or months, but you can guarantee change is coming.
Existing relationships will change, life events like birthdays, Christmas and other milestones will never be the same.
All we can do is put one foot in front of the other, praying for strength, for peace, each day as we work through the various stages of grief.
My grief is raw. My Dad hasn’t yet been buried but my focus is on his upcoming funeral and my “private memorial” at home with my husband.
I’m so pleased with the service we’ve put together. I’m really looking forward to farewelling Dad, in such a meaningful way, from the comfort and security of my home where I can manage my chronic illness.
I’m blessed to know Dad didn’t even want me to try and attend his funeral. He knew my health was not going to allow it. He knew I’d be upset about missing it, but he didn’t want me to be. He understood and I can’t express how much his understanding means.
So as the world mourns the death of a Prince, and the Royal Family will be limiting the funeral service to only 30 attending, due to COVID restrictions, I feel I’m in good company. I feel their grief deeply, perhaps heightened by my own current understanding of how painful the loss of a precious loved one is.
I have moments of being ok and moments of feeling utterly devastated. I know this is normal and each day will get a little easier. I also know the grief process takes a good 2 years to work through.
My hope and prayer is COVID, while awful, will bring lasting positive changes to the way people can mourn. For the elderly, disabled and chronically ill, who can’t travel, hopefully virtual funerals will always be available.
With grief and loss, comes change and while change can be painful, the end result isn’t always bad. It can offer hope, a new direction, an exciting new life chapter.
In the meantime I’m taking time to remember, with so much love, the life of my beautiful Dad who passed away peacefully on the 5th April.
Eulogy….A Daughter’s Memory
One of my earliest childhood memories of Dad is being on a passenger ship from the UK to Australia in 1968.
I was 3 years of age and we were embarking on a life changing journey, as new immigrants to this Great South Land, a place we would quickly learn to love and call home.
Although my memories are fuzzy being so young, I do remember Dad taking me onto a top deck of the ship to a small carousel or roundabout ride. My Dad was standing at the side watching me go round and round. I can see in my mind’s eye his big smile and protective stance. I felt loved, safe and secure in his care. This first happy memory of my Dad epitomizes the wonderful relationship we shared over the years.
As a young girl he was my hero, always making me smile, always making every day feel special. I was always “Daddy’s girl”. No one could instil joy and excitement into birthdays, Christmas and special occasions like my Dad. It was like living with the real Santa Claus!
As a teenager I could talk to Dad about anything. It was like talking to a best friend. Boyfriends, school issues, life issues in general…nothing was off topic with Dad.
Dad had a great sense of humour and I remember, when I was 15 years of age, I told him about a boy who I really liked. One day on the drive to school, I saw this boy walking along the footpath and I made the mistake of pointing him out to Dad.
A few days later as Dad was dropping me off in the school car park, he saw this boy walking past our car, so he decided it would be fun to honk the horn and give him a wave. To say I was mortified was an understatement. Thankfully we shared a similar sense of humour and had a great laugh together at the ridiculousness of what had just transpired.
As I grew into a young woman, Dad was on hand always to offer words of wisdom, never to tell me what to do, but to simply guide and lovingly encourage. He made me believe I could do anything, be anything. I would sit in his study for hours and we would chat together solving all the issues of the world.
He taught me how to pray and showed me how wonderful it is to really believe in God. He encouraged my own life of faith and hope, and equipped me for all the challenges life could and would throw at me.
Dad and I shared a love of music. He was an amazing organist and I loved to sing. When I was living at home he would be playing the organ, practising the hymns for Sunday and I’d join him in singing for hours!
We’d also sing in the car, sing around the house but sitting at the organ with him was some of the happiest times spent with Dad.
I had the honour of working full-time for a year, side by side with Dad, restoring a beautiful historic church building back to its former glory. Such precious memories of this time together as we shared the highs and lows of such a huge task, while experiencing God’s never-ending faithfulness in helping us at every turn.
Dad’s love of God and his commitment to always serve Him is something I will always feel honoured to have witnessed.
I was and am blessed to be his daughter.
Love, Sam xxxx
If you’re looking for genuine support, care, understanding and friendship, you are so welcome to join my closed Facebook support forum,Medical Musings with Friends. It’s a safe place to connect with others living with chronic and complex diseases, who truly understand the daily challenges. A warm welcome awaits.
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Australian Aspire Awards 2020 Nominee – Awarded Medal of Recognition for Individual Best Achievement Community Advocacy.
Thank you to Arthritis Queensland for the nomination!
5 thoughts on “As The World Mourns…”
Oh Sam, this seems like a twisted turn, doesn’t it? You’re right with how so many can’t mourn their loved ones during covid the way they should be able to or get support from family as they would have usually. But chronic illness and pain replicates a similar situation, and it’s something the mass public have probably never thought about. I’m sorry the service won’t be live streamed. Technology is amazing for things like this but of course not every place will offer it and I hadn’t realised prices could be so ridiculous. Increased accessibility is one of the few positives from such an awful Covid situation, I just hope some of it actually lasts. At least your family friend will be able to film it, I’m glad of that.
Your plan for your own private service and tribute to your father is wonderful, Sam. It should also allow, as you say, for better management of your symptoms when you can go at your own pace. And your eulogy is beautiful. I was a daddy’s girl when I was much younger, and I had many a time where I was being dropped off but almost always when he picked up from school where he’d honk the horn! “I can see the car dad, you always park in the same place!”
Sending my very best wishes & lots of love your way, Sam ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
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Oh Caz, you made me laugh so much with your Dad story. I love it. Your response to him was priceless. Isn’t it funny how those simple, ordinary moments stick in our memory.
Thank you so much for sharing. You are just beautiful xx
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I am so very sorry, Sam. My heartfelt condolences to you and your family. Loss of family is so hard, but particularly so at the moment.
My father-in-law passed away at the beginning of this year, we are trying to adjust to the loss. I too couldn’t attend the funeral. But viewed a recording a day later, which should have been a live stream. That was hard.
My heart goes out to you. It is wonderful that you are organising your own memorial at home. Grieving is definitely a process taken at ones own pace. My own father died 20 years ago, and I still struggle. Bless you for writing such a sensitive and considerate post at this time. I pray you will be comforted by the many memories of your father. Penny xx
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Thank you so much Penny. I’m so sorry for your loss of both your Father and Father in Law. When we are blessed to have a loving Dad, it’s so hard not to always miss them so I completely understand it being hard for you 20 years later.
You’ve made me feel a little better to know I’m not the only one who’s had issues with live streaming too. Hopefully this service gets better over time for others in the future. Xx
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Thank you so much, Sam. You are so right. And you are so welcome. I have a memory box, but feel more ready to start a memory album now.
A close relative in NZ was on the phone to the UK asking what on earth was going on with the live stream. I feel that if a provider knows a livestream may not work, it shouldn’t be offered. Just offer the recording. That would help people cope. Hopefully, as you say, the service will improve with more effort, as the need for it is so obvious.
My deepest sympathies once again, Sam. It’s incredibly giving of you to write a post with such consideration for others at this time. Xxx
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