At A Funeral

FuneralFunerals are often tough times for many people.

It might be different but not necessarily easier for a Williams Syndrome adult.

We have recently and unexpectedly lost an ageing auntie. We know she’d had a long life, we know it was a blessed release and we’re still going to miss her a lot!

The funeral was arranged and we made plans to travel the 400 miles to the family funeral.

We did think about driving – a long journey but the time taken to cover the miles is added to by the need for frequent toilet stops for Linda which can add hours to the journey time, so we chose to fly.

Our Dad was one of 11 children, and Sarah was the eldest sister, the matriarch of the family and would be much missed by all. Only four siblings now remain but family gatherings are always swelled by the numerous cousins which make up the extended family. We see these distant relatives infrequently.

While we were growing up, traveling such a distance as a family was difficult and expensive. We saw our aunts and uncles maybe once every five years, and in between our visits, cousins arrived and grew and, as you might imagine, changed significantly!

Somehow, Linda manages to keep track of all of these faces new and old. Long before I read that the brains of people with Williams Syndrome devote a huge amount of processing power to analyzing faces, I knew that Linda never forgot someone she’d met previously.

At the funeral today Linda was solemn during the remeberance service, sensitive to the atmosphere around her.

It was delightful to watch her sensing those in greatest pain and snuggling up, giving them a hug and holding their hand. People with Williams Syndrome are reknowned for their sense of empathy, understanding the unspoken emotions of others and this was a masterclass.

She worked her way round her favourite aunts, quiet and dignified as she moved around the room.

After the services were finished we shared a buffet meal and Linda worked the room like a professional hostess. She was delightful and in her element. You could see the relief as people, laden with grief, were released from their burdens, if only for a short while as they spent time with Linda. You could almost sense the hope she brought to others, that tomorrow might just be a new day.

And when we made the journey home, we settled into our seats on the plane, and gently cried, mourning in silence, all the way home.

Although the natural lightness of heart has not been lost, I’ve still heard those conversations that Linda has, out loud to no one in particular… “I’ve been to a funeral this week… Yes… I’ll miss her loads you know… ” and I’m sure she will.