The Best People Come Unexpectedly by Steve Game-Blackmoor

In our Guest Blog this week we hear from Steve Game-Blackmore of Last Rites about the importance of finding the right support after a death, and of pausing and taking a moment before making decisions.

Liam

The news hit Jennie like a physical blow. Her mother, her anchor, her confidante, was gone. The world tilted on its axis, leaving her reeling in a dizzying vortex of grief. Panic clawed at her throat, choking back any semblance of order. What was she supposed to do now?

Her friend, Liam, arrived at the doorstep just in the nick of time, his face etched with sorrow. He didn’t offer platitudes; he held her hand and spoke softly, “Jennie, don’t make any decisions right now. Keep her with you, in her bed, for a little while longer. Just chat, remember the good times, and let the tears flow. You can decide what to do tomorrow.” This support from Liam was invaluable to Jennie during her grief, highlighting the importance of friends and support networks in the grieving process. Initially, the idea felt wrong. “Shouldn’t I be doing something, planning the funeral, contacting relatives, and calling the local funeral home?”

But Liam’s words were strangely comforting. So, she did it. She stayed beside her mother’s bed, her heart heavy, her eyes blurry with tears. During this time, she found solace in talking to her mother, sharing memories, and allowing herself to fully experience her grief.

Liam called the doctor whilst Jennie talked about everything and nothing, whispering memories of childhood holidays, shared laughter, and their silly arguments over the years. It was a tapestry of love, woven with laughter and tears, a testament to their bond.

As the day turned into night, the sharp edges of her grief softened a little, for now. The panic subsided, replaced by a quiet acceptance. She still missed her mother terribly, but the ache was less overwhelming. This emotional journey, from the initial shock and panic to the eventual acceptance and strength, is a normal part of the grieving process.

Liam was right. It was the best decision she had made.

The time she spent with her mother, even in her absence, had provided a much- needed space for her to grieve. It allowed her to say goodbye, cherish the memories, and find a space of peace.

When she eventually stood before her mother’s coffin a few weeks on, she did so, yes, with a heavy heart, but also with a sense of closure. Her friend, Liam, led a very personal ceremony on her behalf.

The panic was gone, replaced by a quiet strength. Deep down, Jennie knew that her mother would always be with her in the stories she told, the laughter she shared, and the love that would forever bind them.

Losing a loved one is a challenging and emotional experience. There is often a sense of urgency to immediately decide and contact a funeral director amid grief. However, it is essential to understand that this may not always be necessary or the best course of action.

It is common for people to feel overwhelmed and unsure of what steps to take following the death of a loved one. It is crucial to remember that it’s okay to take some time to grieve before making any decisions. This pause can be beneficial, allowing you to explore alternative ways to honour your loved one.

Understanding the legal requirements surrounding death and burial is important before contacting a funeral director; this includes obtaining a death certificate, understanding any pre-existing funeral plans or wishes of the deceased, and knowing your rights as next of kin. This knowledge can provide security and ensure you’re making informed decisions.

But, like Jennie, taking the time to process your emotions and gather information before making decisions about funeral arrangements can ensure you make the right choices. Remembering that it’s okay to prioritise your emotional well-being during this difficult time is crucial.

Exploring alternative ways to honour your loved one can be beneficial, allowing you to personalise everything.

By thinking outside the box and considering different ways to honour your loved one, you can create a unique and memorable tribute that reflects their personality, interests, and values. This personal touch can bring comfort and closure during this difficult time, shifting the focus from mourning to celebrating one’s life.

Whether you’re planting a tree in their memory, organising a charity event in their name, creating a photo album of cherished memories, or even writing a heartfelt letter to them, there are countless ways to pay tribute to your loved one beyond traditional norms.

Taking the time to explore these alternative ways of honouring your loved one can help bring comfort and closure during this difficult time and allow you to focus on celebrating their life rather than just mourning their loss.

Before contacting a funeral director, Jennie took a step back. She grieved and educated herself to approach the process with confidence and peace of mind.

Jennie was fortunate to have a dear friend rescue her at the right time.

Unfortunately, not everyone has a Liam – this is where Last Rites steps in. Last Rites is a service that provides guidance, support, and officiation for funeral ceremonies. We aim to be a calming, creative presence at a critical time in your life, just like Liam was for Jennie.

I set up Last Rites because, when my wife lost her daughter, Katie, at the age of six years to a glioblastoma, despite knowing Katie wasn’t going to survive the treatment, Naomi and I gave a lot of time considering how we were going to mark the end of her life. When Katie died, Naomi and I chose to spend quality time just sitting with her before then deciding to call someone to collect her. This time and space proved pivotal. With carefully selected music playing quietly in the background, we sat with Katie and allowed the reality of what had happened to sink in. Some weeks later, I officiated her funeral, and for quite some time afterwards, we found solace in the professional support offered. This personal experience is what drives me to provide the same support and guidance to others through Last Rites.

Last Rites is here to guide, support, officiate, and be that calming, creative presence at a critical time in your life, just like Liam was for Jennie. We understand the complexities of this journey and are here to provide the necessary support and guidance, ensuring you feel less alone and more empowered in making the right decisions.

Serving all of Staffordshire, Last Rites is here for you before, during and after the funeral in THREE ways:

  1. We are here to offer you advice the moment your loved one dies.
  2. We are here to help you plan the funeral ceremony and deliver the ceremony for you on the day.
  3. We are here to offer you professional bereavement counselling and post-funeral support if you feel you need it.

Last Rites created the dragonfly emblem, which we use as our logo in Katie’s memory. The dragonfly symbolises our hope, change, and love, and it is a creature that Katie loves. I officiate all the ceremonies and wear it as a discreet little lapel pin, a constant reminder of the purpose and mission of Last Rites.

Losing a loved one is undoubtedly one of the most challenging experiences we can face in life. It is entirely normal to feel overwhelmed and unsure of what steps to take following their passing. However, it is essential to remember that you do not have to rush into making decisions immediately and know that help is at hand. Your need for time and space is valid and honouring that in your healing journey is essential.

Thank you Steve for sharing this knowledge and wisdom with us.

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