Last year, I attended 2 funerals in person and another two online.  The first two funerals were quite emotional, quite personal, and quite symbolic for both me and my husband Darryl.  I couldn’t write about how I felt about these deaths, and their individual ceremonies, because it was still too raw.  Now fast forward a year or more, and I’m ready to share the thoughts that came up about the people that left us and the impact they had on me, and the way I continue living my life.

Now, Before I go into the ‘Ah ha’s of what these funerals taught me, I mentioned two weddings as well.  A Wedding can be joyful and have so many back and front stories attached to it, which is certainly the case with these particular weddings, and with that, extraordinary lessons.  Nearly three decades ago I attended a seminar where Florence Littauer, presented on the subject of marriage.  She presented this subject in a way that impressed me greatly.   My two weddings are both as different as night and day yet typical of our ‘social media - digitally corrupted times……readmore.

Florence Littauer, an internationally renowned Christian speaker, and author, championed messages of hope, encouragement, and understanding, she died July 11, 2020.  She was 92.

In her 50-year career, Florence authored 40 books and addressed hundreds of thousands of people in the United States and overseas.  She was a dynamic and inspirational life coach long before the term became popular, weaving scripture and everyday stories into practical lessons.  She used humor and a vast storehouse of anecdotes to underline her central theme that dreams can be achieved, and that one of the great rewards in life is to help others become the people they were meant to be.

Best-seller Silver Boxes

One of her favorite anecdotes turned into a book, and a powerful message, called Silver Boxes, the Gift of Encouragement.  She was already an established speaker when she was recognized at a Sunday service by the pastor who spontaneously asked her to deliver the children’s sermon.  The scripture that came into her head was Ephesians 4:29, a verse of encouragement that seemed too complicated for the children.  As she unpacked the meaning—that words should be used like a gift—a little girl jumped up to face the congregation and said, “What she means is that our words should be like a little silver box with a bow on top.” That phrase became a calling card for Florence from then on. Silver Boxes was magnificent, however, It was her lesser-known book ‘After Every Wedding Comes A Marriage‘ that left a firm message for me, that to this day is just as important if not more.

Now back to those weddings.  The first wedding was an expensive ‘show’, with too much emphasis on how everyone and everything should look, rather than how the funds that I know were spent on this charade may have been better served ‘in my opinion’ to help pay off their mortgage and reduce the stress they endured as a couple!  The expensive venue, food, flowers, wedding car, celebrant, extra gifts, and functions, not to mention the alcohol laid on, were not only stressful to witness play out, but just as stressful for the couple marrying.  Oh, and no one was allowed to take their own photographs of the couple or any of the wedding ceremony as that was stiched up by the commercial photographer.  Not one skerrick of thought was put into what life would be like after this wedding ‘show’, instead, the foundations became like dodgy scaffolding on a building site, now crumbling along with the love that faded like the ink on a Bunning’s Receipt!

The second wedding was completely different, family and friends gathered on a beach, clothes worn were earthy and practical; food was lovingly prepared and brought along by friends and attendees, and photographs were done by one of the guest’s friends as a gift.  The photographs oozed love and understanding.  There was a maturity about the union that celebrated everything a beautiful relationship could be as a success.  It was as I said night and day!

I may come over as critical and judgemental, or perhaps I’m just practical, because in these times I see more often it really is about ‘the look’, and less about the ‘actual’.  The funerals taught me to value the life I have.  No one talks about how much someone accumulated in possessions, at a funeral, noone is interested in what the person once owned, it is more about their legacy, their dreams, the people they touched, and the stories around those relationships.

I think back to 15-year-old Charlie, a son speaking on the podium about the last day he spent with his father.  He brought us all to tears as he described the joy of hugging his father on a motorbike ride, being delivered back to the family home, and waving off his dad who had one more errand to carry out before he called it a day.  For Charlie this day, experiencing the ride on the back of the bike with his dad, having a laugh and just enjoying each other, it would be the last time he would see his father alive!

Charlie said that he had a memory that no one could take from him and that was his father’s smile as it lit up his face staying in Charlie’s thoughts.  It’s a positive memory.  The other funerals taught me about the permanency of death, the love of a family, and how there’s no second chance.  When you say goodbye to a friend or relative you never know if that is the last chance you get, so you make it the nicest goodbye.  For me, every moment is spectacular, every moment is a gift, and there are no ordinary moments.

7 Aha’s Around Living:

  1. When you hang out with a loved one or friend, always say goodbye in a positive and meaningful way.  Smile!
  2. Accumulate memories with people over possessions.
  3. Get over your grudges.
  4. Chose to be kind over being right, no one likes a ‘smart arse’.
  5. Tell people who you love, that ‘YOU LOVE THEM’ as often as you can.
  6. Declutter your stuff it can’t fit in your coffin anyway!
  7. Cherish the delay and celebrate the moments.

There will be more funerals for sure, and weddings, and each one will afford an opportunity to learn something about the people involved.  Each funeral will remind me by its very finality that life really is precious and good health is the most valuable commodity, over everything else.  The weddings will be as unique as the couples themselves, but as the late Florence clearly stated, ‘After every wedding comes a marriage‘.  Love each other hard and passionately and with awareness.  .. Your comment is welcome ..

Stay happy, healthy, and productive x, Annie Clark.