Time to say good­bye

Marlborough Midweek - - BIG READ - PAULA HULBURT

he has sat with count­less peo­ple as they have cried tears of loss; of­fer­ing com­fort and sup­port in the face of of­ten over­whelm­ing

‘‘I have loved to be able to be there when I was needed and to lis­ten. Grief is after all a nor­mal part of liv­ing.’’

re­ally painful and sharp grief,’’ she says.

An­drews helped set up a par­ents’ group and forged strong friend­ships with some. While the group it­self no longer meets, the bonds formed there will last a life­time.

‘‘Par­ents were in­cred­i­bly brave to come along but once there they felt safe in a con­fi­den­tial group of like par­ents and would share photos and sto­ries along with their dreams for their sons or daugh­ters.

‘‘A par­ent is a par­ent no mat­ter if their child is gone. They want to be able to talk about their chil­dren. It’s a ter­ri­ble loss but peo­ple do learn to live with it and their lives will be­come more nor­mal, just a dif­fer­ent kind of nor­mal than be­fore.’’

An­drews was key in help­ing or­gan­ise the an­nual Can­dle Light­ing ser­vices which were held in Kaik­oura, Pic­ton and Blenheim just be­fore Christ­mas ev­ery year. It is a ser­vice that she holds very dear.

‘‘Over the last 15 years, there are peo­ple who have come to ev­ery one, It’s a place where peo­ple can cry openly and can stay as long as they need to. After all, tears are a liq­uid form of love.

‘‘Most peo­ple are afraid to talk about death but don’t walk on the other side of the road to avoid some­one be­cause you don’t know what to say. Peo­ple tend to for­get that once all the flow­ers have gone there is sud­denly a big gap in their lives and sud­denly it’s an empty, lonely world.

‘‘Just be there and do con­struc­tive things like take the dog for a walk or go shop­ping for gro­ceries,’’ she says.

It is clear the role has been much more than a job for An­drews. The peo­ple she has met, the grief she has shared and the love she has wit­nessed have been a real hon­our for her she says.

‘‘I have loved to be able to be there when I was needed and to lis­ten. Grief is after all a nor­mal part of liv­ing.’’

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