I met this person at a funeral.
‘I am dying and this funeral has made me think about how I want to be celebrated’.
They were upset (I have no time for retrospectively told preachers’ stories that smooth out all of the wrinkles), but on this occasion, calm.
They talked about how, when they first received their diagnosis, they were very sad, but also angry: how could they go ‘before their time’. They may have even said they were angry at ‘God’ or their idea of ‘god’- I don’t fully remember all the contours of the conversation; just the integrity and honesty.
Initially- very unwillingly, they joined a group at the local hospice. For a lot of activities they were asked to be part of, they just could not see the point. However, gradually things ‘clicked’ and they talked about the relief they felt being around people who were living with (yet dying from) terminal illness; no one avoided them, stuck for words or adopted a concerned expression and awkwardly said ‘how are you’.
They said something like ‘I felt normal once again’.
Although this person had a faith background, they were just not sure about where they were now.
Several things struck me:
-The person’s total honesty: there was no pretence.
-The stage where they were at had led to an absence of self pity.
-The ‘vicar’, was somehow considered ‘safe’- someone who listened and was accepting. Sometimes I wonder what ‘use’ I am- encounters like this help me to see it.