After Death, those who live on in the hearts and minds of people they live behind are not really gone. Some would say that their presence is stronger than ever. Perhaps.
Christmas should be a time of year for celebration; A time where families should set-aside disputes and be thankful for what they have and one where we exchange presents and goodwill and a time for reflection on the year gone by as well as preparing for the one ahead.
However, whilst we are sat around the table, passing gravy boats, telling jokes and sharing laughter, we must not forget that Christmas for some is a very difficult time of year.
As my phone rang at 11pm last night to inform me of a customer's passing, one may be forgiven for taking what one has for granted. There is, of course, no "good" time of year to die as there is always a birthday, anniversary or public holiday lurking around the corner to become the "first ......... since they passed". This in itself allows grief to re-emerge on a whole new level.
Losing a loved-one can be one of the most difficult times of anybody's life and these significant events over the year will, inevitably, trigger a new sense of loss. Christmas is different however, we have 2 emotional battles to comprehend. One about those we have lost and one for those who may be elderly or vulnerable:
1) This is the first Christmas without (Mum)
2) I wonder if this is (Granddad's) last Christmas
Last night's Sports Personality Of The Year demonstrated just that. 2015 saw a plethora of well-known and well-loved personalities from the world of sport leave us. From The All Black legends Jonah Lomu and Jerry Collins, to the Broadcast greats of Richie Benaud and Peter O'Sullevan to those gone too soon such as Martin Fulop and Danny Jones who's wife Lizzie bravely belted out "Danny Boy" live on BBC 1 - I was fortunate enough to be at Wembley for this year's Challenge Cup Final where Lizzie sang Abide with me just weeks after losing Danny (25) - We think about them this Christmas too.
It's sometimes easy for folk like me who, so far, have been fortunate enough only to experience a very small number of family deaths, to lose sight of the fact that Christmas can be a very hard time of year for those families who have loved-ones absent from the table. Those who's tradition of Granddad carving the Turkey or Granny getting drunk and falling asleep on the sofa with her cracker-produced party hat on have been forever archived.
Likewise, it can be easy to enjoy business at Christmas which, so far this December, has been record-breaking. Team party nights (we had two), time off and office antics all preparing us for a year ahead. I do wonder however, how much of our upturn in pre-planned business has been to do with that collective sense of festive reflection?
2015 for our companies have been unbelievable. As we reflect on the year and look forward to an even more incredible 2016, it is vital that we do not lose sight of the motivation behind all that we do.
Both Safe Hands and the National Federation of Funeral Directors work tirelessly to ensure that those planning for the inevitable get the best possible deal and for those who are unable to afford to pay for disproportionate funeral fees to councils, funeral directors and conglomerates, that we help in any way we can.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our customers, colleagues, funeral directors, funeral plan agents, charity partners and people who believed in us when it would have been much easier to walk away for helping make 2015 fantastic and we look forward to continuing our growth in 2016 with some VERY exciting campaigns booked.
In closing, please ensure you all have a wonderful Christmas, enjoy your time together, cherish it and, should the opportunity arise, give something back to someone who needs it.
We are open up until 5pm on Wednesday 23rd December then we re-open on January 4th at 8am – Should you need us in the meantime, I shall personally be on call 24/7 over the Christmas Break on Safe Hands’ 24 hour bereavement line or on my mobile.
William J Eccleston