How good am I at celebrating life? How good are you at celebrating life? Do we pause to reflect on the key moments of life and celebrate? There have been key moments in my life that I did not celebrate. Or at the least, celebrate in a way that was memorable. The best way we can make celebrations memorable is when we share them with others.
Celebrating the happy times
Most of us will celebrate a birthday. A birthday number with a zero is notable and worth celebrating. Another decade of life. What were the experiences, the highlights, the lowlights?
There are so many milestones in life we can celebrate. The birth of a child. A marriage. A baptism. An engagement. A wedding. One of the popular celebrations today is a party revealing the gender of a baby. What about a Piñata that bursts with blue or pink confetti? Or a gender reveal burnout. You can buy a burnout tire pack and let the wheels do the talking! Either blue or pink smoke. It fits well into our stereotypical world of how we think about gender – in colours!
What happens when you are arranging a celebration? Does it involve sharing the occasion? It is more fun when we celebrate with others. Even though there have been fewer opportunities in our COVID-19 ‘normal’ world. But even before COVID-19 many have celebrated significant life events alone.
One of these was the woman who lived two houses away from us 35 years ago. Mildred was her name, and she was a recluse. Mildred would sit on her back porch and watch my son Matt shoot basketball in the backyard. What if I had asked Mildred for dinner, would she have come? There was a connection waiting to happen, but for the asking. She could have told us wonderful stories about her life. At another time I will write more about Mildred. A woman who lived her entire life, after she married, until she died, in the same home.
Celebrating the not so happy times
No one told me Mildred had died. I did not go to her funeral. I only found out, after her house was up for sale. I could have connected into her world through others when they celebrated her life. But how many were there to celebrate the life of a recluse? A person who does not encourage friendship or connection. What were the reasons? Why was Mildred so alone?
When we connect with others, we come alive. This is true living. Although connection with others can cause pain, as well as joy. Funerals or end-of-life celebrations are a mixture of pain and joy. Pain as we feel the loss. Joy at remembering a loved one, their achievements, their unique personality. Also, their contribution to family, friends, and community. That is, if they practiced the art of connection and did not live as a recluse.
Inviting the joy and the pain through connection
We invite the joy and the pain through connection when we attend a funeral, an end-of-life celebration. We can disregard the pain by not attending. Or do we miss out on elements of joy?
Is the pain greater if we want to attend but are unable? Many people have faced this situation over the past two years. Never having the choice or the experience of being with others to share the joy or the pain of a significant life event.
We had a family member die a week ago. She lived interstate. Even if it was our choice to travel, we could not be there due to COVID-19. We missed out on the experiences created through the moments of connection – joy or pain. We missed out on the moments when people gathered – the before, the during, and the afterwards.
This is why I believe in the importance of live streaming. Technology should be maximised to enable all to connect in the moment. Once the moment is missed, the sense of connection is lost.
Losing the moments of live connection
If we are not present in the moment, we lose the connection. In my sitution there was no live stream to the end-of-life family celebration. We were disconnected. We missed out. What happened? The tears, the laughter, and the joy. How was the experience, the time together? Was a video of the occasion the answer? We will send you a copy in the post. Is this a satisfactory replacement for being there? I don’t believe so. The moment is past. Those who were present connected through the shared experience of the moment.
I will not look at the video. I will remember the person as I knew her, the times we spent together. These are the connections that count. It was live. This is what will live on in my memory.