There's a difference. The loss is felt so deeply that you almost cannot bear it.
But like any of life's experiences, there are things you learn, things that you take with you.
These are a few things that I am taking with me.
It is good to work with people you know and trust. They felt my pain, and to them the process was more than just "business as usual". It was so comforting to know my Mother was in the hands of the very best, and that the celebration of her life would be done with the careful attention it deserved.
Share. Share stories, laughter, tears, hugs, kisses. I won't hold anything in. I won't be afraid to let people know I share their pain. I know they need to hear it. And I will give lots of hugs, not just one. The one I am hugging will let me know when it's okay to let go.
If I send a card, I will put a return address label under my signature, and make a note about any memorial gift I've included or am sending. That little gesture will mean so much to those who are opening cards and trying to keep everything straight.
If I can attend the funeral and reception, I will stay as long as I can. But if I can only pop in for a minute...I will. I know now that it means the world to the family to see me, even if it is just for a moment. I know that they won't remember that my visit was brief....they will remember that I took the time to share their loss.
If I am able to make a meal for my friend, I will be sure to make it in a disposable container, and to send along a pack of containers for freezing smaller portions.
And, as always, I will send flowers.
Working in the floral industry for over 40 years, I have assisted many families who have lost a loved one. I have held their hand, given them hugs, shed tears with them. It's humbling to be asked to create a floral tribute that has so much meaning to the family.
And then, for the florist, the time comes when you have to create a tribute for one of your own. I was fortunate...there was no thinking involved. My mother had already told me what she wanted for her spray...and had given me permission to embellish on her wishes. Thank you, Mom. And thank you for guiding my hands to do the work. There was no pause...just a steady flow of inserting stems, each going exactly where it needed to be. And when it was done, it was complete. No fussing, no fixing, no question. Just an ache in my heart.
The piece that was created to accompany the spray required no thought. My mother loved pink carnations. A simple flower. A humble flower. And in mass, a beautiful presentation filled with the beauty that comes from simplicity, and a whole lot of love.