Today I was crying, sobbing even, mascara running. It wasn’t pretty.
The morning started off like any other: up early, meditation, listening to a coaching call with my mindset coach, children happily getting ready for school. The only difference was I had to be at a funeral service at 9.30am – across the city – in my suit – ready to deliver a “celebration of life” to a large group of people for a 93 year old lady who had passed.
I see this work as a funeral celebrant as my calling and my purpose. It is so rewarding to help a family at such a difficult time, to deliver a service that is powerfully moving and beautiful, to help the family grieving and deliver a wonderful send off for the life that has been lived.
There’s one thing I take very seriously – not to ever, ever be late. I like to arrive half an hour before it starts to give me time to meet with the family, to support and reassure them.
Normally the services don’t commence too early however today’s was earlier than normal. I was conscious of the time and had my two boys out the door at 8.15am. We had our seatbelts on, in the car, ready to reverse out the drive. We were all chatting about our day, when I noticed the electric gates to our rental home wouldn’t open.
I got out of the car, pressed the button. Again, nothing. Then pressed again, again and again. Nothing. We were locked in! A slight panic came over me. So I went closer to the gates. We had huge storms the night before and it was still raining. My perfect suit and perfect hair suddenly not looking so perfect. I pressed the button again … Nothing. Tried to open the gates with my hands … N.O.T.H.I.N.G.
My normal calm temperament is now not so calm. I am feeling mildly frustrated. I go inside for a spanner and wrench (no idea what to do with them really but seemed like a good idea at the time). Nope, they weren’t big enough to go around each of the bolts (is that what you evencall it?!).
It is raining heavily now. I am really frustrated. I started to cry.
“Hold it together Sharon” I said, and came back under cover to work out what to do next. It had been 15 minutes now, 8.30am. I’m due at the funeral home in an hour. “Its ok, there’s still time”, I thought. My two boys, aged 8 and 10, were getting a little worried, “Are we locked in?” they asked. “No honey we are ok”. (gulp)
I started to text my friends who lived close by “Are you able to come pick my boys up please to take to school? It’s an emergency”. Of the 12 friends I text, no one could. They either didn’t have phones on them to reply or they weren’t able to help. I started to feel alone, really alone.
As a newly single mum, 5 months in, I started to panic. I have no one. I have no family who live close to me. I called my ex-husband … it rang out. OK, I’m feeling really alone.
And then I lost it. Tears started rolling down, 5 months worth of crying began. Of being alone, forced to leave. Of not having my family around me. All the while out in the rain trying to open these gates. Not a good look. How much power these gates have! I started cursing God, my Angels, my ex, my friends, and anyone else I could think of!
The boys got out of the car and saw me, mascara running, tears streaming. Little darlings, they just hugged and hugged me. “Its ok Mummy, we’ll be ok”.
Hearing those reassuring words and their tender cuddles were all I needed to pull myself together, for them, for me and for the family that needed me today.
“Yes we will be ok. We have got this. We are stronger than we think”, I said to them.
So I phoned the taxi. “I don’t want to get a taxi Mum” my little one said. “Not now darling, we need to get you to school” I answered. He replied “But I don’t want you to waste your money”. Little love. I said “We’ve got this”.
So it was after 9am before the taxi arrived. I called the school, told them the kids were late, they boys were a little upset and to let the teachers know. Check.
I called the funeral home and told them I will be there as soon as I could. Check.
I called the Property Manager of the property and told them they urgently needed to get these gates fixed (and reimburse me for the taxi fares!) Check.
It was like this inner strength kicked in to me. My boys taught me this incredible lesson.
As we were waiting for the taxi, a long-term friend who lived over the other side of town, text me “Want to do coffee one day this week?”
I text her and told her my dilemma, what a stressful morning I was having. I still needed to be at this funeral on time. That was still causing me tremendous stress. Just like that, she dropped everything, and drove across town. The taxi with me inside, met her at a mid-way point and she carried me on the rest of my journey.
Now don’t get me wrong, yes I found inner strength to get me this far, but I was still very teary and stressed! She knows me well enough to say, upon taking one look at me, “Ok let’s not talk about it, look at your notes, and we can talk about everything after the service. You need to pull this together”.
So that is what I did. I sat there, with her, in silence.
I meditated first. I asked for strength.
You see work as a funeral celebrant can be very emotionally taxing. I need to be strong for the family. I need to deliver a strong and powerful service. The family need me for support, courage, strength and guidance. And I need to be able to handle the emotional aspect of seeing the family in tears and sometimes great distress.
I fixed my hair and make-up as best I could in the car and I arrived to the service on time. The family were waiting, oblivious to what had just happened. They had no idea of the morning I had. All they saw was me, present and of service. I delivered the service of my life. When I do this work I am fully there for others. That is when my true light shines.
The family were so very grateful as we laid their loved one to rest. It was peaceful, calm, and loving. My girlfriend picked me up after and we had a great coffee catch-up. Little did she know when she text me this morning about catching up, that it would be straight away. She was my Angel that day. They did answer my call.
Later, I reflected on my day and could see the lessons in it:-
1) You are stronger than you think.
2) You are never ever alone.
3) You shine and show your true strength when you are giving to others. It stops becoming about you and starts becoming about others.
When the boys arrived home after school that day – side note – the gates still weren’t fixed at that time so a friend brought them home to me – I sat them down and thanked them.
I thanked them for staying calm. For caring enough about me to hug me and tell me everything will be ok. For keeping their cool. For trusting mummy in getting the taxi even though they were worried. They were brave. And I thanked them for being strong and told them that together we can get through anything life throws our way.