Notes on my Nan

By: Jenny Murray – Tobin Brothers Funerals
Tuesday, August 5, 2014

We all knew the time was nearing. One Saturday morning I was summonsed to visit my grandmother whom I called Nan. I had had a similar call on numerous occasions over the past three years but when I arrived this time Nan was sleeping and I was shocked by her visible physical deterioration since my last visit four weeks earlier. Nan slept fitfully while I was there but before I left I woke her to say good bye. She grabbed my arm fiercely and looked me in the eye and told me she loved me very much, and I tearfully replied that I loved her very much as well.

On the Wednesday following that visit the phone rang far too early for it to be good news. Nan had passed away that morning. Then the daze began. In tears, disbelieve and shock, I told my mother I didn’t know why I was feeling like I was; I had wanted there to be an end to Nan’s suffering and I know she wanted to go. But her passing marked the end of an era as she was the last survivor from that generation of family and friends. No longer would she be able to really verify what happened back then and no longer would she and I be able to share a birthday each year. Nan and my grandfather lived next door to me all my life until I was about sixteen so we shared a special relationship and I know some of my ways have been adopted from my grandparents. Life may go on for everyone else but mine was frozen in a kind of no man’s land. Our small family had not had a death for 25 years and we were all a little unsure as to what we needed to do.

A younger cousin who spent more time with my grandmother in her last few years had been told by Nan what she wanted for her final send off. Mary Robinson, a Funeral Planner, came to my mother’s house and gently guided us through the process. My mother who had looked after Nan all through her final years and had been her best friend, told Mary “this is not supposed to be a sad funeral. It should be happy because she had a full life’. Melissa Laird, a funeral conductor and branch manager at Tobin Brothers Funerals who was the celebrant, beautifully captured the essence of my grandmother and skilfully related an anecdote or memory from everyone present that day. We couldn’t help but talk of my grandfather, who had died 25 years earlier and whose funeral had been very poorly conducted. We felt my grandmother’s send off was fitting and while not overshadowing her farewell we had been able to also give my grandfather a more fitting send off than he he’d had at the time of his passing.

Central to our farewell for Nan were Melissa’s words, and because there were a few photographers in the family there were pictures a plenty for a slide show. With Nan’s life spanning 93 and a half years there were a few decades to cover and we ended up with over 70 photos!!!!…For me this was the highlight of the service and from time to time I still watch the slideshow. The photos speak a thousand words and bring the memories cascading back. They brought sighs, laughter and tears. My Nan was transformed from the tiny frail woman she had become in her final weeks, to the colourful fun loving individual she had always been. I was secretly feeling completely responsible for the service because Tobin Brothers Funerals, the company I work for had been engaged to conduct it. It went beautifully. Tobin Brothers’ staff were quietly present in the background but visible and attentive when needed. It was a humbling experience to witness so many of my work colleagues at the service. I felt supported and a surge of pride in the calibre of staff I work with. I now have great empathy for anyone who has lost a loved one and even greater respect for the wonderful and unique work performed by all the people at Tobin Brothers funerals.


Written by Jenny Murray – Tobin Brothers Funerals


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