I saw death this week and it has made a big impression. A beautiful, graceful and loving lady – a neighbour and aquaintance of mine, – “H” – died last week of breast cancer. She was in her early fifties and has left behind 3 amazing children and her loving husband.
Yesterday was her funeral. It was easily the most beautiful send-off I have ever witnessed. Friends and family reminisced about treasured moments in H’s life. Many songs were sung. At one poignant moment H’s husband sang with a quartet in his wonderful bass voice. The choir from the children’s school sang H’s favourite song.
I saw H for the final time that morning in her open coffin made entirely of beautiful cream felt with embroidered flowers on top. No longer H. really – just her earthly container – but an honour to be a witness to this most touching of passings.
Later, H.’s closed felt coffin was placed in a circle of flowers in the woods and we all wrote notes on paper leaves and hung them to a tree.
The subject of death for many is something to be avoided, feared and endured. Being at this inspiring event has made me realise once again how consciousness – the art of paying careful attention in a loving, open-hearted way, can facilitate a kind of magic. The magic of connection. H. had the time and, more importantly an incredible generosity of spirit, to whole-heartedly plan all the details of her funeral with her family. It seemed as if everything was anticipated with an eye to what we as the mourners needed – honouring, celebrating, laughter, song, ritual, beauty and community. We all shared an inspired few hours together and it is typical of H. that she should facilitate this because she, of course, is all of those things.
Farewell sweet H. you will live on forever in so many people’s hearts.