Just after my dad died, I started writing a blog about mourning. I did not finish it – I suppose I was too busy coping with the overwhelming grief so that putting it in to words was simply not doable. This is the start I made:


Jesus said in Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” Who on earth finds solace in this verse? I am looking around me and seeing how people mourn and today I want to shout out: “No! They are so not being comforted (add rolling eyes emoji in your head).”


We know a 92 year old lady whose daughter recently died of cancer. As part of her mourning process she decided to plant a fig tree on her farm. Can you think of a more soul- destroyingly sad sight than an old, frail lady, walking with a pick axe and a shovel to dig a hole in the unforgiving Karoo earth to plant a tree in honour of her daughter? A tree, which is no doubt going to die on that desolate farm.


Mourning metastasizes differently for us all. To be totally honest with you, my ideal way to mourn is that I want to crawl into a tiny ball and pull the covers over my head with my cat at my feet. Life does not quite allow this, so I have become very talented at sneaking off to the bathroom and having a quick cry or diving into my handbag and hiding my tear streaked face. I want to push pause on the entire world because I simply cannot understand how life can go on? How can we complain about the ANC and sit in traffic jams and order pizza, when the world has changed so completely? “


And that is how far I got. Now, five and a half months later, I am still very much mourning, but I see the comfort and the grace. The memories of a precious father and role model, sneak up on me gently instead of annihilating me with a horror-reality.


Today I went to a memorial of a man who I only met in the last days of his life. I did not know him well at all and learnt what I knew about him through his children and loved ones that showed up for him while in our care. Today at the service, they spoke of him with so much grief. I was there just a few months ago, when your sorrow is raw and cruel and takes your breath away at times.


But now I know, they will be comforted, as I was. What he taught them will guide them now just like my dad’s wisdom leads us. His daughter, an accomplished psychologist, told beautiful stories about him: how he never owned a new car, yet bought his children new cars, how he washed dishes, cleaned up, baked muffins, how he loved, forgave, showed up, cared and was patient. He was their rock. He made them feel safe. This is the wealth we want to leave our kids. Not a beach house or a business. This example that each child and grandchild or friend or wife can carry with them forever. As I sat in that service today, I wondered, is this not the precious heirloom we need to leave behind rather than a will our children have to dissect and fight over? These humble, unassuming men are the ones that raise us up and leave a legacy long after the bonds and stocks have dried up and the inheritance has been spent.


On Friday I attended another funeral, this one for a dear, dear man named Dave. I was lucky enough to get to know his beautiful soul a lot longer and now think of his wife as a friend. We walked a special journey and I will forever be grateful to her for sharing her vulnerability and parts of her soul with me. I was an essential stranger she dared to trust. Dave loved nature passionately, especially creatures great and small. A few days before he passed away, his wife, while in our garden, ended up with a tiny little praying mantis on her dress. She knew Dave would have loved to see this and went inside to show him. A stately well-behaved insect this was not, and it climbed up her sleeve and onto her back. She tried to get rid of the creature, now clinging desperately to her back, but after a few failed attempts she had to take off her jersey, dress and even bra whilst Dave was convulsing with laughter at this clumsy strip show. Finally, she placed the praying mantis on Dave’s arm where he looked at this marvelous creation in awe. A few days later, Dave died, as we knew he soon would. As the undertakers took his body and the carers and wife stood a bedraggled guard of honour, one of our carers reached over to his wife and gently removed a praying mantis from her hair.


Is that not being comforted? Is that not that promise to those who are left to mourn to do so in hope? Our faith and our beliefs will keep  us. Our memories of our loved ones will console us, and, our people, here and now, carry us, until it is our turn to do it for them.