Tomorrow is going to be a very strange day.
We received the sad and unexpected news last week that a colleague had had an accident whilst walking back to the office after work, which resulted in a severe head injury. The next update from his family came as a shock to us all as we hadn't realised the severity of it; sadly they informed us he had not survived the injury and died two nights after the accident.
I won't go into details out of respect to him and his family, but just to say he left behind a wife and two children, which is just heartbreaking. Added to that that his death was unexpected, and at Christmas time which to me always seems worse - a constant reminder of what's been lost at a time when everyone is happy and enjoying silly season.
Tomorrow is his funeral.
I have so far, managed to avoid all funerals except two. One was a child who was killed during a sporting accident while I was at school. I didn't know him, and I don't recall much about the funeral except all the school classes were packed into the church for a service for him (not his actual funeral). The other one was another colleague who had suffered a heart attack and died instantly. It was not unexpected as he had been a very heavy smoker. Whilst I got along well with him, we weren't close colleagues, which did make it slightly surprising to me when I did not cope well at his funeral. I have a difficult time saying goodbye - it seems to bring up all the sad things in the world for me, as in I think of other losses, of how sad the person's family must be, of how that would be if I lost someone else (various family/friends etc) and the whole lot of emotions tumbles around with my mind running completely out of control and I lose it. I ended up with silent tears and red puffy eyes, while everyone around me managed to compose themselves.
This colleague was a member of my team in my seconded job, so I only met him when I went back to work this year. He was a friendly person, would go out of his way to give you a kind word, was patient when I came to him with work questions that weren't really his problem but would always stop what he was doing and try to help me figure it out. He loved a drink (or five) and of the few work functions we had this year, he would be one of the last to leave (usually with some fun photos surfacing the next week!) So a generally nice guy. The resounding question in my head after, 'How?' is 'Why?' So many evil people in the world but we lose a nice one? The world doesn't seem fair.
It's been over a week now since we found out. His desk has been like a shrine to him (other than his bag and personal documents which I guess my boss took to give to his family) everything is just as he left it, right down to his takeaway coffee cup. There's also a photo of him at a work function taken only hours before his injury. One of his close friends stuck it on the overhead cupboard and it makes me smile when I walk past. It's him in his element.
I will go in tomorrow with the mindset that we are there to learn a little more about him and celebrate his life. Hopefully my life experiences since the last funeral have equipped me to deal with grief and loss a little better and I won't spend it fighting and losing against tears but rather able to watch and listen to the ceremony, and by being there giving support to his family and friends.