The past week has been very difficult for us as a family. Martin’s brother, Sean, passed away last Saturday lunchtime after suffering from a complex lung condition. Sean was the youngest of the Brown siblings, and was only 53 years of age when he died. He didn’t smoke, he wasn’t a drinker, and kept himself pretty fit as a young man. Yet he struggled to breathe due to scarring of the lungs in recent times.
The last week has been filled with fitting tributes to Sean, culminating in his cremation at Rose Lawn Crematorium just outside Belfast on Wednesday.
The emotions of losing a loved one touch all our lives at some point, but two aspects of the past week stand out in my mind. Firstly, it has made me think about my own mortality. Sean was the same age as me, and his passing makes me think of how little time I may have left. It is a gloomy subject to dwell on I grant you, but it is the one certainty we have in life. I think we should all be more open about death, and bring some structure to all the arrangements that have to be made once we die. Just before his death, Sean managed to convey to his partner Sonia, and his brother Martin, that he wanted to be cremated. Perhaps we should all be clear about what we want in order to help our loved ones in planning our funeral.
In 2006, my mum died from liver cancer. She was given six weeks to live when being diagnosed. It gave her time to put all the necessary arrangements in place for when the time came. I found it hard to listen to her discussing the songs she wanted at her funeral service, and how her ashes were to be disposed of. But she was right to tell us what she wanted, just as Sean was last weekend. It is an incredibly difficult subject to discuss, but I believe it makes it easier for family and friends to know what to do when death occurs.
The second aspect of the past week that stands out for me is the love and support shown by Sean’s family. They were all there for one another, doing their bit in helping with the funeral arrangements. And what’s more, I felt such a part of that togetherness. They are truly lovely people with no heirs and graces, but always that welcoming hospitality. I feel lucky, proud and privileged to be living among some of the nicest people I have ever met.
Rest in peace Sean, your memory lives on through your family and friends.