There are times of great celebration in life; birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and for many of us Christmas (or whatever you would like to call it). But even with great joy and laughter will be moments of grief and tears; perhaps discomfort in delivering a baby, sleepless nights that lead to tears, holidays with
lost luggage, lizards crawling everywhere in your tropical paradise
or even your first Christmas without a loved one.
The same thing happens in times of grief. Yes, there are more tears and more grief, but there can also be great moments too. Joy and laughter; reminiscing about great times, remembering something your loved one did that made you laugh hysterically, seeing family or friends you haven’t seen in a long time,
getting a message from a someone far away, or a neighbour showing up with your favorite dessert.
These moments can bring joy and laughter, even in the times of your deepest grief.
So, I invite you to reach out to the grieving, especially at times like Christmas, when grief can be felt
more deeply. Send them a message, call, have tea, mail a card, shovel their driveway or listen to them
tell a great story about the person they miss. Do whatever you can to “Just Show Up”
for the grieving, the lonely, and those who are struggling.
And if it is you that is grieving, choose to believe that your heart will heal. It will never be the same,
it may be battered and scarred, but it will heal. Seek out those moments where you feel joy
in remembering or even try to have a laugh. It’s OK. Grief is hard and allowing yourself
some of these lighter moments will help ease that pain.
Dogs are not people, but they are cherished family members. This will be our first Christmas without a dog. Strange. A little empty. But we are looking at funny pictures, laughing at the things they did,
like sleeping under the tree, chewing presents or removing Christmas ornaments from the tree.
We will remember our beloved pets and all the happiness they brought.
I wish each and every one of you much joy and laughter in your life and
know that we are always here for you.
Planning our life and end of life is a gift we can give our loved ones. Chuck did just that.
When we asked his wife Gayle if we could share his story this was her response:
No one would be happier to share his story than our Chuck. He wished to lead by example in all he did.
His heart and his thinking were always in the right place, thinking of others before himself.
Thanks to his life well lived, and his end well planned, we all continue to smile at the
memories and the love he gave us. If by sharing your story he inspires another to take life as it comes
and make those heart wrenching final choices with conviction and love for those one leaves behind,
he will have done what he wished, leaving his mark yet again! And Andrew, you and I will continue to share in the laughter and know he's smiling upon us. Go for it!
Chuck was my best friend. He was larger than life, humorously irreverent, loved a practical joke, was generous, loved to volunteer, and cared for others. I remember how it started. Stomach aches thought to be an ulcer, were eventually diagnosed as stage 4 stomach cancer. He was given a couple of years to live. The news was a devastating shock to all of us. Chuck had always seemed healthy.
He was only 65 years old.
I guess he went through the usual stages of grief...anger, depression, etc. Gayle accepted the fate with sadness but with a resolution to make the time left as good as possible. Together they travelled to Newfoundland then to the USA with their two Golden retrievers. Chuck gradually went from
the victim to the guy in charge. Friends rented a houseboat in the Thousand Islands, swapping stories
and reliving old times. Chuck spent quality time with his two loving sons as well.
He travelled together with Chris and Adam, helping them through the normal stages of anger and depression and imparting his words of wisdom on them as any good father might do.
Things gradually declined, but he was "the boss" of this whole thing. He put together a “death file” as he called it with all of the financial details and other personal information. He organized his funeral and showing his humorous side, called it the “wedding”; a time for celebration. Nothing was left unattended.
I gave the eulogy which was not easy, but with so much already organized, my job was simple.
He was an example to all of us to live life to its fullest, even in those final days. He maintained that we need to make the tasks of those we leave behind as easy as possible, so that they have time to reflect on the good memories rather than worry about the details of tidying up.
He wrote an amazing love letter to Gayle for her to open after the funeral. Most importantly,
he told her to get on with her life and that he would be upset if she didn’t accept a new
husband should that opportunity arise.
He was an inspiration to us all.
Yvonne Heath is a Canadian leader, Transformational Speaker, Blogger, Television Host, Author and Creator of the #IJustShowedUp movement.
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