Monday, 9 February 2015

A Moving Farewell

Just over a week ago, my cousin Daniel from The Netherlands, died after a two year long battle with stomach cancer.  His funeral was this past Wednesday and luckily with advanced technology we were able to watch it via a live-stream webcast.  Amazing!

The farewell was phenomenally moving and what blew me away was that he planned the entire proceedings to the very last detail.  I think it takes huge strength of character, at age 37, to face the reality of your impending death with such maturity.  The woman who conducted the farewell service had been his cancer support counselor and she led the service beautifully.  She read out his words and wishes with such passion, respect, understanding and love.  I was moved by how he and his long standing girlfriend Dominique made the decision, when they realised they could not surmount this wall of cancer they kept bumping into, that they would enjoy the fruits that were offered on this side of the wall and came to accept that the other side was just not meant for them. I think it takes a huge amount of maturity to work at that level of acceptance and to make the most of it. I also appreciated him sharing what his counselor had discussed with him around his and his family's anger.  She said that underneath their anger was a lot of deep grief and this resonates with what Brene Brown talks about when she says that anger is just a bodyguard for sadness.  I am hoping that with time my uncle can get passed his anger and allow himself to grieve deeply for his huge, devastating loss.

I was also amazed at how he had the service begin with a little mini-meditation where everyone was led to become aware of their in and out breath and then to find an image of him that they loved and then to welcome love and friendship into their hearts.  For my very traditional Dutch family, I thought that was wonderful and very brave.  But I guess when you are facing your imminent death, you drop the need to please and worry what others will think and you just become more and more real.

So here's to an amazing young man, my cousin Daniel.  It was a privilege to be present at his farewell service.  Thank you for sharing so much with us. May you rest in peace.

Myself, my cousin Sandra and Daniel on a trip to Cape Town 20 years ago

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