Just like generations before them, my parents come from a very traditional school of thought, that one doesn't talk about death. My parents are both in their late 70's and I am so very blessed to still have them with us, healthily and very active in our lives.
I so vividly remember the day … it was warm, with clear blue skies and barely a breath of wind. I had arranged to meet my dad and sister and go to the local cemetery. I was of the opinion that the next 30 minutes or so would be 'no big deal'. After all, I am surrounded by death and cemeteries every week (sometimes everyday of every week).
Yet today was not the same. Not even close.
I picked up my dad and sister, driving to the Highton Cemetery in Geelong, so that he could select a burial plot for himself, my mum, and sister to be buried in when the time comes. Dad and I interacted as he considered the selection; the place his physical body would remain forever.
I have officiated an innumerable number of committal services at this cemetery. It is a stunningly picturesque cemetery, one which is ever kept in excellent manicured condition. But today it felt different, today I was looking at it as the resting place of my loved ones… mine, not someone else’s. I felt like this was all too early, it was too real.
Intellectually I knew it was a great thing to do,
but emotionally it was so confronting.
It is interesting to me that I cannot remember the drive home, nor the hours following it. I am sure I must have been lost in my own private thoughts, uncommon feelings and uncertainty of what I should say or do.
It was weird, but I am so thankful to my dad for making the choice, for including me in it, and for removing the stress of his family having to make that decision when it comes time to make it. When it comes, not if.
As I reflect upon this day, I don’t actually think about the ‘weirdness’ of the experience but the kindness of my dad’s willingness to sort this matter out. My dad is one of my hero’s. He has provided for his family always. He has loved my mum unconditionally for over 50 years. He is movingly generous, incredibly wise and the proudest dad you could imagine towards his 5 children, all of whom can do no wrong. Thank you dad, I hope you live forever!
Please hear my heart, I understand and appreciate that this is an extremely tough point of discussion (especially when initiating such with your parents / partner / kids etc) however the long-term benefit of such a discussion will be appreciated by all those involved.
If you haven’t thought about making similar arrangements with your family, then please take the time to consider it…. I for one am glad I did.