It looks as though summer has arrived. Sunday 18th June was the hottest June day in the UK since 1976 and Alresford was buzzing with crowds enjoying the Rotary Fun Run, the Broad Street Open Gardens and The Duck Race – all on the same day (and all advertised in this Magazine last month). Many of us envied the ducks their cool environment, and wondered how anyone could even contemplate running in the heat! Very well done to all who took part. The Open Gardens in Broad Street were in aid of the Murray Parish Trust and our own Churches Together in Alresford. As we go to press it’s too soon to know how much money was raised but one garden recorded over 1,000 visitors. What a wonderful effort by the garden owners, and a lovely way for their visitors to spend a summer’s day.
June was, of course, overshadowed by the terrible events in Manchester and London, which makes Jackie Browning’s thoughtful Leader article on page 3 very pertinent. Our regular contributors have all written interesting articles this month, and Hannah Warner shares with us (on page 11) her experience of Thy Kingdom Come which ends with the good news that if you missed it it’ll be on again next year.
Next month’s issue will include a lovely article of memories of Alresford and a well-known resident. If you have anything you’d like published please get in touch (details in the box on the left). Judy
Endings and Beginnings.
“What we call the beginning is often the end and to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from”. T.S.Eliot
The end of this month sees the end of the Interregnum. Looking back to its beginning, the weeks seem to have been marked by funeral after funeral after funeral. There were as many as four in some weeks. Demanding and time-consuming work, sometimes difficult, but always a privilege. There were small, quiet services in churches and at the Crem. There were churches filled with familiar faces, there were burials, there were cremations – the Chapel at Basingstoke Crem. overflowing with standing room only for one in particular. For those who died, life as we know it had come to its end. For those who were left to mourn, life changed forever. For them, the end of life for their loved one, marked the beginning of bereavement and learning to live with grief. We can never really know, never completely understand another person’s grief. Grief is such a personal and intimate thing and we all respond to it in different ways. The difficult days, the painful and emotional days, the angry, hopeless and bewildering days – all have to be lived through somehow. We have to find ways of getting over the hurdles that look enormous – the birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas to name but a few – and the biggest one, which can be learning to believe that it’s happened at all. Everything feels unreal. There is much to face and much to cope with in the early days of trying to adjust to life without someone we love.
C.S.Lewis likened the experience to having a leg amputated. With the death of his wife, he said – part of him had gone forever. He would never be the same again and there would hardly be a moment when he could forget that he had lost a limb. Even though he might be given a wooden leg and gradually learn to walk again, he would now, always be a one-legged man and there would be times when the stump hurt. Grief is like that and in the early days, the best most of us can do is learn to get about on crutches. It’s a struggle, it’s difficult, it’s horribly painful and it’s lonely. There is no way around grief, the only way is through. It’s a time of transition, and one that I think is especially difficult if it happens in the emotional ‘see-saw’ years of adolescence. It is devastating and shocking and overwhelming to find that death really is a part of life – that it doesn’t just affect other people – it can and it does and it has happened in your own family. And it goes on happening throughout our lives. There is a sense in which once we are bereaved, we’re always bereaved. We don’t so much get over the death of someone we love – as learn to live life without them.
Which is exactly what we have been hearing from the two Royal Princes – William and Harry. In a few weeks time it will be the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death and for some time now they have been talking openly about their grief, telling us how much they miss their mother and the effect that her death has had on their lives. Diana’s boys are determined to keep her in their lives – determined to continue her work – committed to keeping her memory alive and to being the kind of sons that would make her proud. Who will ever forget the sight of those two young boys walking behind their Mother’s coffin? The heavy weight of sorrow and loss they carried that day, will always be theirs to carry. They know that, but they are learning to carry it differently. Sharing their own experience has not only helped others, it has helped them too. They remind us of the importance of talking about dying and death, and funerals. About the end that is the beginning for us all.
Watch out for Grave Talk – a Conversation we hope to have later in the year.