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Marlborough Midweek - - BIG READ -

grief.

At times she has sim­ply stayed silent, know­ing in­stinc­tively when to talk and when to keep quiet and sim­ply be there.

Death has been part of Jenny An­drews’s life for 15 years. Pro­vid­ing be­reave­ment sup­port at Ge­of­frey T Sow­man Fu­neral Directors, the Blenheim District coun­cil­lor re­tired from the role at the end of Septem­ber.

It was, she says, a role she felt priv­i­leged to have held and one that has led to life-long friend­ships.

Casting her mind back over the years, mem­o­ries of fam­i­lies she has helped and those that died are still vivid. No one has been for­got­ten.

For An­drews, the rec­ol­lec­tions are im­por­tant.

‘‘I think of grief as be­ing like a puz­zle that’s been put to­gether but a piece is miss­ing.

‘‘When you see a piece is miss­ing the first thing you look for is that miss­ing piece but even­tu­ally you will see the big­ger pic­ture,’’ she says.

An­drews’s ex­pe­ri­ence with death be­gan when she lost both her par­ents when she was in her 40’s.

Over the years, she has re­alised there is ‘‘no right or wrong’’ way to grieve.

‘‘Peo­ple grieve dif­fer­ently, some for a long time and oth­ers not so long but if you’ve loved then grief is the price you pay,’’ she says.

Sit­ting in the peace­ful chapel at the fu­neral home, the wooden pews awash with pale sun­light, An­drews is quick to clar­ify that she was not a grief coun­sel­lor.

She had been of­fered the po­si­tion by former fu­neral di­rec­tor and mon­u­men­tal ma­son Ken Rooney, who has since re­tired, who be­lieved it was a ser­vice that was needed. He was right.

‘‘I did not hes­i­tate to say yes. It was about of­fer­ing ex­tra care and sup­port or even just com­pany to those who needed it,’’ says An­drews.

Her task has not been an easy one and at times she says it was over­whelm­ing. The sup­port of her fam­ily and friends was vi­tal as was find­ing ways to en­joy the sim­ple plea­sures in life.

‘‘While I couldn’t talk to them about what had hap­pened specif­i­cally, they were al­ways there. I have a cir­cle of very dear and close friends.

‘‘I’m also a gar­dener and a keen reader. My grand­chil­dren bring me a great deal of joy too,’’ she says.

The de­ci­sion to leave was not an easy one but the Blenheim District coun­cil­lor found she had less time avail­able for the role. Be­tween her coun­cil du­ties and as co-owner of an es­tate as­sets and down­siz­ing com­pany, Es­tate Busters 2013, time was tight.

While she may be leav­ing the role of­fi­cially, An­drews says she will con­tinue be there for those who need her and the mem­o­ries of those she has helped will be with her al­ways.

‘‘Peo­ple deal with grief in in­di­vid­ual ways and some don’t need to grieve for long but for oth­ers, it’s an on­go­ing jour­ney.

‘‘The loss of a child is the worst; it’s a

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