Celebrating the Life of Denise Smith

Denise was privately cremated and the ceremony was held in the Woolgoolga Lakeside Caravan Park ‘gathering space’. Denise worked here for over a decade and she absolutely loved the place.

After the words of welcome…

Denise Smith… also lovingly known, by different people, as Mum, Nan, Karma, Neesie, Boofhead, Shagger… she would respond to them all!

Denise would have wanted very little fuss, in fact, the family say she would have wanted no funeral at all. Yet, because of her deep love for her family and her larger than life presence, and involvement in the community, especially here at Lakeside, she has come to mean a lot to many people.

This gathering is just one way that you can offer support to her family and to each other as you grieve.

Denise’s sudden and unexpected death has been a huge shock and, in many ways, still feels surreal to those who loved her and to those who saw her at work just last week. Grief can come in many forms and it may stir other feelings of loss.

In times like this, it is important to reach out for support… to tell the stories, to speak the name of your loved ones. This morning there will be stories and music, and we will honour the memories and experiences you have of being with Denise… and there will, no doubt, be tears but, especially given Denise’s way of being in the world, there will also be lots of laughter and possibly some swearing.

Song for Reflection

We are going to take a moment to listen to a song the family have chosen—Supermarket Flowers by Ed Sheeran, a song that Sheeran wrote for his mother after she died. The lyrics say, ‘I’m in pieces, it’s tearing me up but I know a heart that’s broke is a heart that’s been loved.’

As you listen to this song, you may want to bring an image of Denise into your mind’s eye, and offer a silent blessing or prayer.

Excerpt from the Closing Words

In her dad’s words, Denise was a beautiful girl. She had a big heart and would give to anyone. She sacrificed herself for her family and for her work. She will be remembered for her quick wit and one-liners, her incredible memory, her capacity to work hard and give her all to whatever she did. Denise did herself proud in what she achieved: a family and community who adored her. She loved you all! May she rest in peace.

In Ed Sheeran’s song that was played for the reflection, he wrote,

Hallelujah, you were an angel in the shape of my Mum. When I fell down you’d be there holding me up. Spread your wings as you go, when God takes you back, he’ll say Hallelujah, you’re home.

The family believe that Denise is now reunited with her mum, Flo and brother, Pat. They reckon they’d be having a great time… catching up and having a drink.

If Denise, were here she would most likely be saying, come on now, that’s enough, get on with it. So, to close the ceremony the family have chosen a song by Lee Brice, Save the Roses.

Lee Brice writes, ‘Can I justgetanamen and y’alljust get outtahere. I got the best view ever now that I’m way up here joking ’round … and catching up with Mum…Tell who you love, how much you love ’em. Don’t just say it, no you gotta show ’em. Every chance you get, to get to know (them) better. Remember forever don’t last forever.
Take it from me and my brand-new point of view, the biggest regret of your life won’t be what you did, it’ll be what you didn’t do…time is so precious, it ain’t gonna wait.

So, tell the ones you love, that you love them. Do the things you dream of doing.  May there be many blessings of love for Denise, and her family.

The writer, Maya Angelou wrote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I think in Denise’s case, you will remember the funny things Denise said, and remember the things she did for you, and… you will remember how she made you feel—loved and cared for.

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