A song and a tattoo: the gift that Kelly’s mum left for her family.

This weekend marks the five-year anniversary of the death of Kelly’s mum. She was just 60 when she died of cancer. Before she passed away she gave her family a great gift and legacy: the gift of preparation.

This is Kelly’s story:

I remember mum telling me ‘everything you need to know after I’m gone is in The Bottom Drawer Book on the table next to my chair’.

I didn’t think much of it because there was no way my mum was going to die: she was only 60, I was only 30. Our lives were just starting! 

After a long and hard battle with cancer, she passed away peacefully with family by her side. I remember dad saying he had organised the funeral people to come by the next day. He had a lost look on his face: we all knew she wanted Michael Jackson played, but which of his hundreds of songs did she want?!

It was then that mum’s voice popped into my head. I raced over to the table next to her chair and there it was; ‘the Bible’ as we called it!! The funeral prep was done within half an hour! The director was amazed by the book and couldn’t believe we were lucky enough to have it.

All her wishes right there in one location, no hunting through music or trying to think about what she might like for flowers or what she wanted to be dressed in. It was a lifesaver.

We had no idea she wanted ‘wasn’t expecting that‘ by Jamie Lawson played. It went on to become a song that would play randomly on radio or the music channels when I was thinking about her – her little way of communicating with me from beyond! 

Kelly’s mother filled in her copy of The Bottom Drawer Book: the after death action plan after being diagnosed with cancer, letting her family know her funeral wishes and writing down her life’s reflections. One of the songs Kelly’s mum chose for her own funeral now has a special and permanent place on Kelly as a tattoo.

She had also picked the song ‘never can say goodbye‘ by Gloria Gayner, the words I would eventually get tattooed on me in her writing, in memory of her. I took the book to my appointment and the tattoo artist was stoked that we had it for him to trace! 

The idea of her social media never crossed my mind until it was in the book, or the fact that she wanted her ashes to be put somewhere where her family could visit. You have really thought of everything in this book and it was truly a blessing to our family, at what was one of the crappiest times of our life. I can’t thank you enough for creating this book, I’m a big fan and tell everyone about it.

I have actually kept mum’s copy of The Bottom Drawer Book in my ‘mum keepsake’ box so when I’m feeling sad or miss her, I pull it out and there she is: her writing, her humour and it always puts a smile on my face 🙂

Kelly.

ED NOTE. I’m so grateful to Kelly for sharing her story. It’s so wonderful to know that my little passion for getting people talking about, and preparing for, the inevitable has helped grieving families at a really difficult time. Kelly’s experience is exactly why I wrote the book. It’s the outcome that I had hoped for. xLisa

ABOUT THE BLOGGER: Lisa Herbert is a death literacy advocate, a cemetery wanderer, journalist and author of The Bottom Drawer Book: an after death action plan, an informative and amusing workbook and funeral planning guide for those who want to prepare for the inevitable. It is available in Australia for $24.95, including postage (Additional postage of AU$9 is payable for overseas orders). She enjoys telling the stories of the dead because they reveal so much of our history and way of life. 

Lisa Herbert: Author of funeral planning guide ‘The Bottom Drawer Book: the after death action plan’.

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