Tuesday 13th December 2022, River View Island, Tewinga, NSW
Opening Music: Cool Change—Little River Band
Welcome to Country: Michael Jarrett
I’d like to welcome you to this ceremony to honour the life of Sharon White, also known as mum, Shaz, Shazza and Dr. Snowy White. My name is Wendy Haynes and I am the family’s celebrant for today.
It is an honour to be on Gumbaynggirr Country and I’d like to thank Michael Jarrett for his Welcome to Country. Here is a sacred place to hold ceremony and to connect with the ground beneath us, the vast presence of the open sky and the peace of the flowing water which Sharon so loved.
We also get to lean into the quiet stillness of this place as we gather. I’d like to pay my respect to the Gumbaynggirr people; and the Elders past, present and emerging; and to all Aboriginal people here today.
There may be a myriad of different stories today of being with Sharon and yet it was Sharon’s generosity of spirit, kindness and care, her ever-present humour and joy; and her huge sense of honouring the ordinariness of life with no pomp and ceremony that made Sharon stand out … and so loved.
We come together to mourn your loss and to celebrate Sharon’s life. We come to offer comfort and support to Sharon’s family at this time. A time that is sacred and intimate as you each say goodbye. Today there will be tears and there will also be laughter and a sense of gratitude for the rich legacy Sharon has given to her family, friends and community.
Let us take some time for reflection upon your relationship with Sharon as we listen to Billy Joel sing, You’re My Home.
Music: Billy Joel—You’re My Home
Eulogy and Poem: Sharon’s sister in law, Nicky Owen. Adaptation of the poem by AH Auden.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message She Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
She was Lyn’s North, her South, her East and West,
Her working week and her Sunday rest,
Her noon, her midnight, her talk, her song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
Tribute: Paige and Alana Owen, Sharon’s nieces.
Tribute from the White Family: Michelle Ninnes, Sharon’s niece.
Moment of Quiet Reflection: When It’s My Time—Imelda May
The Lord’s Prayer
Sharon was a sincere woman of spiritual depth, nourishing her practice of inner stillness and compassion through meditation and prayer. A dear friend and colleague, Phil Proust will now read The Lord’s Prayer.
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory,
forever and ever.
Tributes: Sharon’s colleague, Desiree O’Brien on behalf of NSW Ambulance and Rosemary Hegner.
Presentation of NSW Ambulance Flag and Pandemic Service Medal
I would like to invite Dominic Morgan to lead the proceedings for the presentation of the NSW Ambulance Flag and Pandemic Service Medal.
Even though you all knew Sharon’s time here was limited, no one had expected that her death would be so sudden. Sharon died unexpectedly last Sunday 4th December at home in her own bed, as she had wished, with her beloved Lyn, and dear friends, Jac, Linda, Jodie and Alana by her side.
Sharon had found, through her relentless searching and curiosity, a deep peace within, a peace that held Sharon, Lyn and Zac in a calm and harmonious connection these last few years: just taking one day at a time. Lyn said, it was this peace and equanimity that saw Sharon comforting those around her in her last hours; and supported Sharon to cross that final threshold being the person she always wanted to be. Sharon achieved her ultimate goal. She lived her short life to the fullest… with connection and with great humour.
Maya Angelou once 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.’ Sharon was one of those people who made people feel loved and welcomed. As you grieve, may you find comfort by being in each other’s company, by sharing stories that make you laugh, by feeling safe and held when you need to cry. May you feel the support of your friends and family who are here today.
Words of Remembrance
Sharon will be remembered for her abiding love, affection and intimacy with her beloved wife, Lyn and her devotion, support and love for her son, Zac and his partner, Danielle. Sharon will be remembered for her love of their very lovable dogs, Nate Dog, Gracie and Lilly. Sharon loved, respected and valued her dearest friends and colleagues; and she had many friends in the wider community who will also greatly miss her.
Sharon will be remembered for her appreciation of being near the water, of being outdoors. Her need to be on the move…camping and road trips. Her enthusiasm and passion for politics. Her joy of teaching and mentoring, of sharing her work and knowledge with respect and consideration for others. And her love of photography. Lyn had 83,000+ photos to trawl through for the photo tribute that you will get to see later!
The following words of remembrance come from just some of the tributes that have flowed in to the family which all express the joy and care that was pivotal to who Sharon was.
Sharon will be remembered as “an extraordinary woman, a magnificent human being; an absolute cracker, a good egg, an incredible human, unique and bloody intelligent; an amazing person, bigger than life, a great sense of humour, always having a joke to tell and an infectious laugh. A rare human being who has impacted upon so many people’s lives. One of the greats.”
Sharon will be remembered for her “zeal, warmth and wicked sense of humour. So many of us stand on the shoulders of Sharon”. She was a “clever, inspiring and all-round good person. …Admired for her achievements, integrity and openness.”
“There will only ever be one Sharon White. Thank you for being you.
And for the perfect balance that exists within us all: you will also smile when you recall her stubbornness and her feisty tell it as it is moments. And also, her very private softness and tender vulnerability. Sharon will be remembered for the fullness of her being.
As we prepare to leave, let us entrust Sharon’s body to the elements from which she came.
Sharon had a keen interest in quantum physics—the oneness of life. That where we come from we return to. Lawrence Krauss, the theoretical physicist and cosmologist, wrote, “Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust.”
Sharon’s life has ceased and yet your relationship to her is eternal. We are all a part of this cycle of life and death. Here in this last act, in sorrow and in love and appreciation, we commit Sharon’s body to its natural end.
May she rest in peace.
Lyn and Zac would like to thank everyone who has supported Sharon and their family and they offer their deepest gratitude to you. You are welcome to join them in the Barn afterwards for light refreshments and there will be the opportunity to share more stories.
In a moment I am going to invite Mark Buschman from NSW Ambulance to read the Ode and we will hold a moment’s silence. This will be followed by Geoff Rogers playing the bagpipes while the NSW Ambulance form a guard of honour.
On behalf of Sharon’s family, I thank you for your presence and care. Today and always, may your memories of Sharon bring not only tears, but may they bring you joy, comfort and strength. May peace be with you.
Ode to NSWAmbulance Officers and Paramedics – Read by Mark Buschman
You’ve finished your treatment to those in need,
They’ll never forget your kindness and deed.
To those sick and injured which death did devour,
You comforted those souls in their last darkest hour.
Now your service has ended, your reward is night,
Your dedication to people, will never pass by.
Your shifts now completed, their legacy remain,
Your name will endure with everlasting fame.
Although we grieve you, all appears as night,
Your love and care will remain as a beacon of light.
Now dear colleague, to God’s rest you must go,
Your crown for ambulance service will for eternity glow.
Guard of Honour by NSW Ambulance and guests
Closing Music: Amazing Grace Bagpipes played by Geoff Rogers
The Wake—Family and Guests make their way to The Barn.
Copyright: Wendy Haynes 2022