Sharing the love

As tributes to the late Tom Petty came in last week, it reminded me how important it is to us all to have the opportunity to express our reflections on those who have passed away.

This was echoed at Leuchie House last week too when we celebrated the life of one of our regular guests, June, who died recently. A vibrant and vivacious woman, her ever-present smile and welcoming personality meant she had touched the lives of many guests, staff and volunteers over the years.

Having built close friendships with a number of other guests, for several years they have all booked their Leuchie breaks on the same dates to be able to spend time together. 

I’m sure we’ve all felt the emptiness of returning to somewhere we associate with someone who is no longer with us. So it was last week, when June’s friends came back to Leuchie for the first time since she had passed away.

Knowing the importance of offering a space to remember and grieve, we arranged a simple afternoon tea in June’s memory to allow her friends to get together and share their stories and recollections. The room rang with both laughter and tears as they recalled the fun they’d had together over the years and spoke of the fondness they shared for this lovely lady.

Many of June’s family follow Leuchie on Facebook, so we took the opportunity to put up a post about the occasion and share some of our photos of June.  This brought a flood of warm wishes from our online community who remembered June in various contexts and wanted to express their condolences and share their memories of her. All of which served to underline to her family how far-reaching June’s impact had been and the warmth she had spread throughout her life.

It’s a reminder to us all that we should never hesitate from voicing our happy memories of departed friends and loved ones.

In the words of Terry Pratchett, another much-loved person no longer with us, “No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away.”

Mairi O'Keefe, Chief Executive, Leuchie House. Published in The East Lothian Courier, 12 October 2017.