We’re not offended when people ask us, ‘How can you do what you do? Isn’t it really sad?’ It’s true, we see a lot of sadness and this isn’t always easy. But people are often surprised to hear that more often than now we’re frequently inspired by the amazing families that we serve and the stories that we hear, and our days involve a lot of laughter too as memories are shared and stories are told. We’re not alone, for you’ll find that other professions who work closely with those going through the more difficult experiences in life often encounter deep value and beauty that is often only found entwined with the hard stuff of life.

This article describes how a hospice nurse is frequently inspired by those she serves. Something in the article really struck, when it describes how the ‘team at the hospice take the pressure off families and allow them to slip back into the roles of wife, husband, daughter, son or friend.’ In a similar way, that’s what the team at Albany encounters frequently: we try and ease or lift burdens from people of what ‘should’ happen so that people are free to choose what is right for them as a wife, or husband, daughter, son or friend. In our culture in the UK when someone dies, a mix of tradition and the expectations of others can suddenly kick in which can prevent us from doing what is really right for us as a family. It will often be found when you find yourself saying ‘I should to this’ or ‘I should have that…’

Shoulds are not the most helpful way of making choices. Instead, consider what is it you really want? What would be the most helpful way of saying goodbye? What did they want and is there a way this can be done in a special way so that it helps those who are present?

Listen to tradition and see what wisdom it has that may help, but don’t be confined by it. Instead, ask these better questions, for our experience is that these questions take you in a better direction and to a funeral or occasion which helps your grief and to a memory that will help you move forward.