"Thought for today:
"There is a certain morbidity in death that most people find hard to face until it is absolutely neccessary and yet, it need not be so if one is reconciled with the life one lives. Grief is itself a medicine that warns us to take nothing beyond today for granted and death is but that final part of life which we are all called to one day act out.
Ever since the age of seventeen years, I have visited the seriously ill, disabled and dying in 'The Cheshire Homes' and a few hospices in West Yorkshire. My purpose at the time was to be with them and to share their journey in the hope that it would make the travelling of it lighter. Having been a companion to death over many years now, while I wouldn't claim to be an expert on the process of healthy grieving, I can tell you that though death leaves hurt and heartache that never fully heals, love is more powerful in the healing process by being able to leave a memory of a loved one that no one can ever steal.
Over my years of visiting the dying I have never been dry eyed at their parting, especially when they have sometimes been younger than seven and merely old enough to have just lost their baby teeth. Often, after the death of a child particularly, the bereaved parents are inconsolable and seem to be the bearers of a mountain of grief they are shouldering. On such occasions of going through hell, they have no option but to keep on going, by establishing daily routines that momentarily occupy their tortured minds, crying openly when the sadness overcomes them and talking about the departure of their loved one.
It is the people who love the strongest who often suffer the greatest sorrow and loss. For them, crying out their loss is beneficial. Tears seem to carry a sadness of message that speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues.
There are said to be two parts to the stages of grief. The first is loss and the second is the remaking of life. A few of the less wise ones enter into a stage of denial, hide away their loss and put on a brave face to deceive the world. Often they resist tears and put on a stiff upper lip that Victorians proudly displayed on sad occasions in order to 'behave well' in their hardest hours of grief. But such resistance to the expression of grief is futile in being unhealthy and simply unsustainable. All it takes is one fleeting memory, sight of an old love letter or scribbled note that slips from a drawer and everything collapse; the emotional dam is breached.
Adults never quite know how much to tell children when they are dying or indeed, whether to tell them at all. This is very hurtful and unwise, for I tell you that though it may be the harshest piece of news you have ever told them, however sad they may be at your passing, their grief will be healthier and easier to manage. Children can live with truth, but nobody can live with a lie and most will feel worse for the deception.
The process of dying and bereavement is of course much easier to cope with for the believer in a life hereafter, for earth holds no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.
Around the turn of the New Millennium I felt so strongly about placing the experience of death into a proper and healthy perspective for the young that I persuaded the National Lottery to fund me writing and producing a musical play that would be suitable for children, young persons and adults. That play was from my most popular children's story book, 'Douglas the Dragon' which dealt with the theme of 'Anger Management' that I founded in 1971 and the theme of bereavement and the death of loved ones. Copies of the play and its songs were given to one thousand schools in Yorkshire and it was freely made available across the world to any school or youth organisation. This play and all its original songs that are professionally produced is freely accessible from my website by clicking
In the play, there is a speech that is given by 90-year-old Granny McNally to all the villagers who have just experienced an earthquake which destroyed their village and killed half the villagers; leaving all families bereaved and many children orphaned. I include that speech extract below:
GRANNY McNALLY: (Slow, solemn and assertive delivery)
“Our hearts are heavy with grief for our dead; our feelings of loss veil our pain. Even our mental images of their tragic deaths mangle our minds and press our thoughts of confusion into feelings of uncertainty for the future. Our skies seem filled with the harbinger of doom and gloom, but believe me when I tell you that the sun will shine through again!”
“I’ve walked this earth for 90 years. I’ve seen all of you born and have witnessed more deaths than I care to remember. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I’ve forgotten more than most of you have yet learned. And yet, despite the extent of my age and worldly wisdom, I know so little about what lies beneath this green sod that makes the ground shake so violently when ‘The Angry Hill’ explodes in rage.”
“But this I know with every breath of my being and tell you most truly. I know that sadness suffered in silence grows ever more bitter and sours the soul of humanity. I know that grief denied is grief extended and that bereavement borne alone is a cross far too heavy to bear. I urge you, one and all, do not hide away your grief from family and friends. Share your fears and sadness with them, for a burden shared is a weight lessened! Let it out. Let them see it. Let others help you to carry your loss!”
“Do not conceal your pain behind false pride, good people. There is no shame in crying, no comfort to be found in silent rage and no point in trying to cope alone when others will help you willingly; and be glad to have done so. This is a time for you to share with friends and family; a time for all to rally round and to offer what we give best. This is not a time to isolate oneself from the lives of others, but a time to take part in all around you: the wisest time of all to express your feelings to those you love and trust!”
“Do all of this, my dear friends, and I promise you that the light will shine through your darkest day. Follow the substance of your future. Do not dwell upon the shadow of your past. Put your past behind you and I tell you, that a brighter ‘morrow shall follow. However sad you feel today, I promise, that in time, your feelings shall change for the better. Remember, the birds shall still sing, the sun shall still shine, the grass will still grow, the flowers shall still bloom and the wind will still blow.”
“Consider this, good people. Even mighty oaks have to bend to the force of nature. And then, even when they are battered and blown by the Earth’s storms; even then, experience encourages the trunk to grow ever stronger and its roots to spread ever wider. Are we no less?”
“So give heed to the ramblings of an old woman. Do as I advise, and peace and reconciliation shall enter your lives once more. This I promise you. This I know!” William Forde: February 16th, 2015.