Family and friends gathered online with some nervousness wondering what would happen. It can be hard to show up to something you have no idea about.
Paul’s partner had chosen a song to open the mourning and celebration circle, the memorial ceremony. Electric Fields song, ‘Don’t Worry’ was playing as people logged into the online gathering.
After an acknowledgement of country I offered a short ‘coming to ground’ practice where the invitation is to feel the ever-present support of the ground beneath the body, to get comfortable and to notice the breath.
Opening the space for safety, care and connection to be present and acknowledging the gift of community and coming together to mourn and celebrate the loss of their son, their brother, their partner, friend, neighbour and colleague the created a palpable sense of ease and welcome.
Explaining what might possibly happen, as I never really know until it is unfolding, I offered a sense of spontaneity with a loosely formed structure. We would have one round of mourning that which they missed about having Paul in their lives. What they yearned for, cried for and then we would hold a second round of what they remembered with gratitude and celebration. Stories, music, quotes… all was welcome. Between each speaker we would take a breath together and feel into the support.
Paul’s mum shared what she had written to begin the sharing. With her heartfelt words of remembrance and her wish that we not ‘miss him’ the invitation was to honour his presence and all he gave.
After she spoke, I invited people to speak to both their mourning and celebration and it was a gentle flow of stories – of tears and laughter, of silence and joy at the memories that came flooding back.
At the end of the hour it naturally came to the time to bring the ceremony to a close and I invited the family to first speak to what had touched them about the gathering.
I felt honoured to be able to hold the space for this heartfelt sharing of love, family, grief and celebration. Paul was a man who created many memories both joyful and challenges, but most of all he will be remembered for his passion, dedication, playfulness, resourcefulness and for his dedication and service to making a difference.
“We need lots of people with Paul’s courage to make a difference”.