Remembrance Day, November 11, has become very precious to me over the last few years. It is a day which evokes memories of special people in my life who have died. Two years ago, I presented a lecture on Remembrance Day in Alexandria, Virginia, on the subject of Losing Elderly Parents. It was entitled: On Lives Well Spent: Coping with Losing Elderly Parents. I look back now and wonder how I ever managed to give the lecture as it was only two months after my father had died.
The main thrust of the lecture was about the extent to which Cicero’s book, On a Life Well Spent, written in 50BC, had helped me enormously in coping with losing both my parents within a period of sixteen months. I found great comfort in Cicero’s seasonal approach to life and his view of old age as winter. I also loved the way he wrote about death in terms of finding safe harbour after the tossings of life.
Cicero was a person who found huge solace in writing as a way of coping with the death of his daughter and I can identify totally with this as writing has been extremely therapeutic for me in grappling with the flood of emotions which are associated with losing loved ones.
This year, I decided to run a workshop, here in Co. Waterford, called Write to Remember. Over the last two years, I have become more and more convinced that celebrating the lives of loved ones who have died, through various forms of creativity, such as writing, painting, gardening, photography ….. can be very therapeutic. There is no easy way to lose someone you love but feeling his/her presence in everyday life and embracing that can be so comforting and inspiring.
Finding the ‘right’ venue for the Write to Remember Workshop on Sunday, which runs from 3pm-5pm, was crucially important to me. It takes place in the Copper Coast Geopark Centre in Bunmahon, Co. Waterford. This is a restored church along a stretch of the most beautiful coastline in the world and, yes, I will be stopping en route to look at the waves on Annestown Beach and the arms of the harbour at Boatstrand, places where I spent so many happy times with my parents over their long lives.
‘Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.’