Vicar’s November Letter

Dear friends,

My Dad died on Sunday 27 September.

I was leading a service at St Michael’s, when I received a message that Dad was struggling and we should get there quickly. He had been in a nursing home for two weeks, but we weren’t expecting him to be so poorly so soon. When I got back to the Vicarage, Dad had just passed away. It was a shock that everything had happened so quickly. We went up anyway. I spent some time with Dad and the rest of the day with family. We had a good day with meaningful, deep and sometimes sad conversations interspersed with playing ‘hide and seek’ with my grandson Matty.

It’s  been a strange time. Dad’s birthday was 5 October, he would have been 87. On 6 October my daughter Sarah was in hospital giving birth to Heidi. On 7 October it was Dad’s funeral. The minister, Cleopas,  led a short committal service at the Crem and I led a thanksgiving service in Church. We had a wake afterwards and then Sian and I went to meet Heidi. An odd day with all kinds of feelings and emotions.

I regularly talk with funeral directors and families about funerals, but it was odd talking to funeral directors about Dad’s funeral, it was odd talking to the minister about Dad, it was odd planning Dad’s service, it was odd discussing Dad’s eulogy. All went well though. It was good to meet with cousins that I hadn’t seen for ages, friends of Dad’s from years ago and members from the Church that I knew from my childhood.

Although it all seemed odd, in many ways it wasn’t really. We are all members of families and communities where people die. Nothing could be more natural. We gather together at such times to remember those we have loved and lost, to give thanks for them, and to pass them into God’s care. These are always emotional occasions, there will always be a mixture of feelings, there will always be good conversations, good stories and good memories. It is not uncommon for death to be closely followed or preceded by birth. This is the order of things. Life goes on.

One of the things that Cleopas said at the Crem, as he sought to being comfort, was that we don’t talk about death enough. That’s true. It’s something of a taboo subject. It’s as though we think that if we don’t talk about it, it’s less likely to happen. I think we should try to talk about death, dying, bereavement, funerals and life beyond this life more openly, more frequently and more naturally.

To help encourage this, we will be having an evening of conversation at St Stephen’s on Thursday 19 November from 7.30 – 9.30. Feel free to come and go as appropriate during this time, but do think about coming along. You won’t be made to say anything, but hopefully we can join in conversation together and share some thoughts and feelings. It’s good to talk. I hope to see you there.

If you are struggling with bereavement or would simply like to remember someone you have loved and lost, please join us at our All Souls service at St John’s at 6.00pm on Sunday 1 November.

God Bless,

Mike

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