I wrote it before Kiana’s partner died last week. It wasn’t written for anyone other than me, really. But there is always someone dying (trite and sad, but very true), and always someone who will need those words.
I had one line that kept repeating itself the Wednesday night before. It was a very late evening as Hylas and I went with Kiana to her partner’s house, as we gave our condolences to his wife and (adult) children, as we took Kiana off to Takapuna Beach and hugged her and walked with her past midnight along the surf. And that long late evening Death strolled through my head reminding me that “you get what everyone gets; yet a lifetime”. She’s right. You do. He did. Alas, that doesn’t make it easier for those still living theirs.
Though I’ve not met Death myself, she’s wandered through my life a lot. As I waited outside the crematorium on Monday I tried to count up funerals – I lost count past ten, but have definitely passed fifteen and maybe twenty. There has been family, friends, and supporting friends who have lost family and friends. Old age and cancers and suicides and stillbirths and heart attacks and AIDS and more. And there will be more.
Different people grieve differently. And different people can support that grief differently. As Hylas and I looked out for Kiana that night, I noticed that we were there in the way that often only people who’ve also lost ones close to them can be: close without intimidating, nearby but without asking unneeded questions, supportive but not overbearing.
When you’ve been there, you know what it’s like. You know it’s different every time. And all you can do is help the people you love as they grieve in their own way.
So I’m off to a wake this afternoon. A kinky, brightly-coloured, wake to celebrate the lifetime of someone who was well-loved.
What else can you do?