Gut Health

When I talk about “Gut health” I’m not speaking about probiotics and a nutritious diet.

It’s all about that gut feeling when you first meet someone, or when you’re in a situation and it’s telling you to run or embrace the moment. The ability to understand and follow this inituition is what I mean when I say “Gut health”.

Gut health is essential to following your path in life. In almost everything you do from applying for that new job to going on a first date, you almost can’t ignore that little voice inside putting their two cents in. And if you do ignore it, in time you realize your sidekick was right all along and if you had just followed the advice in the first place, you wouldn’t be living on two-minute noodles or crying into a box of tissues when you found out your new love was cheating on you.

So, ask yourself. Kale, beets and chia seeds aside, how is your Gut Health? Do you follow your intuition? Are you able to feel the energy zapping between you when you meet someone new? Are you able to read messages from others without them saying a word?

As funeral directors, I believe good Gut Health is important to fulfill our duties successfully. A wise old funeral director gave me the best advice when I was training to become a conductor. “The key is to let the family know you’re there, but don’t be in their face. Be present, but out of the way.”

I had been his assistant for some time, offering cold water to the mourners, polishing the hearse and helping guests locate the rest rooms. When I was able, I would watch the conductor and how he interacted with the family, and I noticed that all conductors had their own way of doing things.

Patricia* took the gentle touch approach. She would gently touch the “Applicant” on the arm when she spoke, the priest, the vocalist, everyone. Just a gentle touch to let them know she was there for them. She nodded a lot, but kept out of their way unless they gave her the look and she was right there, by their side.

(The Applicant is the main person the funeral conductor is to liaise with on the day of the service and isn’t always the executor. It is usually a child of the deceased or spouse, or whoever is strong enough to plan the funeral at the initial arrangement).

Then there was Albert* who I adored. Albert was the most beautiful funeral conductor I had ever met. While he had the lunchroom back at base in stitches with jokes, when conducting a funeral you have never seen such a professional. He bowed profusely, to family, friends, Father and even the catering ladies as they raced around laying out sandwich triangles on the plastic tables to the side of the church. Albert was there for not only the Applicant but for everyone. You could never locate him for yourself as he was always helping someone. An old lady with a walker, a child who dropped their cup of water and the larger man who needed assistance climbing the stairs. He truly was wonderful to watch.

Then there was Tony*. Tony was in his late sixties and new to the funeral industry. He had been a bus driver most of his life and even spent time in the military, so there wasn’t too much…softness there. A former beauty therapist, I longed to give that man a facial massage and relax some of those stern expression lines. He always looked serious, not empathetic at all and didn’t seem to know when to approach the family. I watched with my gut in knots but not able to stop him as he constantly approached the grieving family, at one point in his nervousness even dropping a precious photo frame that was to be placed by the coffin. I wanted to help him, but I was only the assistant. I could see his face burn red as he continued to make errors that affected the funeral service. Tony was a lovely man, but just didn’t know how to read the guests, their energy and listen to his Gut. Perhaps it didn’t even know how to speak to him as he had not given it any nurturing over the years.

During my conductor training, I soon learnt that the good Gut Health that helped me through everyday life was soon to become my best friend on a funeral service.

Not all family want a stranger in a suit running up to them and bombarding them with questions and information on seating arrangements. They sometimes don’t want to talk at all and quite often, the Applicant and close family will arrive only moments before the funeral commences to avoid the interrogation and conversation. Standing at the front of the church or chapel watching guests arrive, some sobbing into tissues, others dripping with jewels that jangle as they sign the guest book, I can tell almost instantly if they want to engage in conversation or not, and this is crucial in making the family and guests at a funeral feel comfortable and safe.

I will introduce myself to family of course, and let them know that I am there for them if they need, but if I can sense that they do not want to say one word, I nod and it’s amazing at how this one little movement can tell them everything.

“I’m right here if you need me. Any time for anything. Just look my way and I’ll be there.”

From displaying the flowers at the front of the church to approaching the elderly, my Gut Health is in full swing as the funeral begins. And at the cemetery, as the Applicant and close family arrive, sobbing graveside to watch their loved one lowered into the earth, my Gut lets me know whether I should go over and hug them or stay clear until it’s all over.

Yes, good Gut Health is our “go to” on a funeral, but it’s also there for you in your profession and personal life! Whether you’re a teacher or a chimney sweeper, if you listen to your intuition, I assure you that you’ll excel, meet the right people who belong on your path and avoid spending copious amounts of money on a date with someone who isn’t going to call you back.

In a world where computer screens have taken over the printed word, where “likes” mean more than a phone call and a stranger’s comment justifies your existence more than a posted letter in the mail in a real life envelope (Yes! They still exist!), how about spending some time focusing on your Gut Health. Nutrition yes, but while you blend the rainbow of goodness to care for your physical self, just remember your spirit and mental health is equally important and this health is going to bring you nothing but success. Funeral director or grave digger, florist or plumber. Your intuition knows the answer. Listen to it…always. No exceptions.

Advertisements

We Are The Flowers

Last night I was walking my Maltese around our quiet neighbourhood. This is my favourite time to walk as you get a glimpse of the other lives around you. I love watching the stories that take place in the homes lining the streets with sleepy glows. (In a non-creepy way. I don’t peer into people’s windows from their gardens bushes, I promise).

I passed a house with a young father clapping as his toddler fumbled but made it on two feet to the front picket gate. In the next house, a family from India was preparing a mouth-watering curry. My tummy grumbled.

A few houses down I saw a bedroom with a ceiling of fairy lights and a girl count a mathematic quiz on her fingers at her desk. My dog growled at the cat purring on the manicured lawn proudly, and I tugged on the leash. We passed the next home, where the grand entrance was framed with LED lights. The manufactured garden suggested a peaceful ambience yet it was anything but inside. A man and woman were screaming, arguing over who was meant to collect the kids from school.

The air was sweet with the scent of Jasmine and Snowflake. My Maltese stopped by a flower bush that looked similar to one we had in our garden as kids. I picked a flower and sniffed, but inhaling Spring time too deeply, the petals were sucked into my nostril.

Spluttering and laughing to myself I pictured my headstone:

Here lies Emma Jane. Killed by a flower.

Only my gravestone could read that. Because every time I see a flower I like, I inhale the heck out of it.

Some years ago I spent three months living on the South Pacific Islands Samoa. While roaming the country with sea salt mattered hair, I met a world traveller called Bernard. He hadn’t been home to his country, North America, in over a decade.

One day, while sipping from a coconut on a wobbly bus that rattled over every stone in the road, he said to me: “A flower blooms to be looked at, smelt and loved. When you pick a flower all the life it has will be given to you. It does not die, it simply turns brown as you now hold all of its colourful life.”

As I trotted home, I could have been back on the island. The air was warm, smelt of barbeque and there was a tropical touch in the breeze. I continued smelling the flower and pondered a little. Metaphorically, we could be the flowers. We get plucked from a garden (when we are born) we get married (looked at and smelt) we turn brown and wither up (End Of Life) and then The Universe holds our colourful life. (The After life).

I have been fulfilling work placement at a hospice facility to support my End Of Life Care studies, and I decided to take a bunch of fresh flowers into work for the front reception desk. When I walked through the sliding front doors, I discovered one of my favourite patients had passed away during the day. We lit a candle and cried a little as the funeral directors arrived to take her away, and I placed one of the flowers on her pillow.

For this blog post, I will call her Daisy.

Her grey hair was always pulled back and fastened at the nape of her neck with a silver clip. Even in her final days, she always loved to look pretty. Daisy had said to me over many cups of tea that her fondest memories were spent in her garden. She confessed to me that since her husband had passed away ten years earlier, she had become quiet and content with her flowers. She busied herself with her plants, her Better Homes and Gardens subscriptions and making wind chimes.

His funeral was quaint; she recalls behind her teacup. She remembers her young grandchild drawing smiley faces on the service flyers. It was a muddy day, the burial in the small cemetery by the local church with the steeple spooky against the backdrop of rainy clouds.

Daisy and I were friends. We laughed, we cried, I helped her with Find-A-Word quizzes and often brought flowers for her room as I knew she dearly missed her garden.

I find it ironic that my Flower Friend passed away that day. When the flower was sucked into my nostril, Daisy had already passed away. Maybe she was accompanying us on our walk last night. Who ever knows?

 

 

xo