My dear old Nanny, Gladys Elizabeth Shergold passed away last night, on her 92nd birthday, determined to go with the same style and panache by which she lived her young life it would seem, and as ever, on her own terms.
I guess with all such things, it is normal to reflect and as ever I am led to question what lessons I might learn from my sorrow and in this case from her passing.
She has been poorly for a long time and her quality of life was not great, so in some ways it is both a blessing and release and not the shock it might otherwise have been. The human capacity for grief doesn’t seem to pay much heed to prior warning though does it! I look positively frog like this morning!
It is interesting how such an event churns up old feelings. Memories of losing my beloved father unexpectedly 7 years ago came rushing back.
I have thought a lot about loss since his passing, I still don’t like to refer to it as his death, seems too harsh and finite somehow. I have practised many, many times diverting my thoughts of him from being sorrowful, into remembering the very many happy times I spent with him, and the old adage ‘Time is a great healer’ has certainly proved to be true for me. I will always miss his presence in my life, but I remember him with smiles and laughter now. It is a habit I have cultivated and it serves me well.
So I know from experience, that my though my heart is heavy today, and rightly so, it will get better and I will smile when I think of her without my eyes filling up.
The point of writing this today is in some ways to mark her passage here on earth, but also to share with you what I have learned in the hope that perhaps someone will come across this when they are in need of hope that the pain will get better. I promise that it will.
I would like to share with you a piece from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. It is the most beautiful book I have ever read and was given to me at a time when I would have been quite happy to die myself. If you haven’t read it, it really is wonderful. In this passage he speaks of death far more eloquently than I could ever hope to.
On Death – An extract from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. THEN Almitra spoke, saying, We would ask now of Death. And he said: You would know the secret of death. But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life? The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light. If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life. For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one. In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond; And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring. Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity. Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour. Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king? Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling? For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And what is it to cease breathing but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered? Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.
My Grandmother, was to me the perfect Nanny. She always had time to play, time to cuddle and when I grew up, time to share a sherry or a glass of Baileys and a secret or three.
She made bombs during the second world war, lost her mum at age 10 and her husband 27 and once danced with Clarke Gable. She had skin like a peach and a will of absolute iron. I have yet to meet a woman with more determination than her – perhaps instead I will become that woman.
If you have come across this post at a time in your own life where you are sad or lonely and life feels like it’s all just too much. Please take heart.
Think back to other points in your life when you have felt those same feelings and then moved past them. Remember that just as night follows day and sunshine follows rain, you will smile again. It may not be tomorrow, or next week, but you will rise again and the rainbow that the sunshine brings will stay with you, so that your pain will have brought you something and not have been pain for pain’s sake.
Remember and smile
Force yourself to do it at first and it will become a habit I promise.
Look forward not back
You know where you’ve been, it’s where you’re going that matters. Learn the lessons of the past and them move forward from them.
Embrace your capacity to really feel
Allow the well hollowed by your sorrow to be filled with your joy.
Live your life with purpose and passion
In honour of those who would wish it for you, those who look up to you and above all yourself.