Coping with loss… Pat Brown’s ceilidh


To mark Dying Matters Awareness Week, we’re very grateful to Caroline Brown for allowing us to share a slice of her life – a very recent life shattering event. We hope her inspiring and positive approach to coping with loss and grief and remembering a loved one might help others.

“In 2000, my husband Pat and friends Mary, Joe and Peggy began talking about when we died, asking if we would like buried or cremated etc. We felt it was morbid at first then I got a wee notebook and wrote down what everyone said about hymns etc. We actually felt ok at the end of the night and every few years would bring out the book to update it.

The last time we did this was on 10 January this year.

On 18 February, my beautiful husband Pat tragically died unexpectedly.

I was beyond devastated.

Mary gave me our wee book and I knew exactly what Pat wanted. It somehow helped knowing what his choices were.

In the midst of my grief however, the only thing I wasn’t able to arrange was a ceilidh.
Trust Pat Brown to want a ceilidh!

Pat had been training for a 10k to raise money for Alzheimer Scotland and Sense Scotland. As part of the healing process for me, our son Simon and daughter Clare, we thought we could walk a 5k and invite anyone who wanted to join us. Having spoken to friends and colleagues about this idea, it grew arms and legs and so we now have various fundraising events planned throughout June, with the final one called The Gathering on 22 June – part of this will include a ceilidh. You might imagine my joy!

I know first hand what it is like to watch a loved one, my lovely mum, live with an illness which is a long goodbye. I had the courage to speak with dad about dying that helped us both at the end. I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to my darling Pat, but I at least had a record of what he wanted and that felt good.

Mum’s Alzheimers is now very advanced but she is still here.

I have had a few conversations with her, gently saying that when she feels she needs to go, we will all be OK.

I have learned so much about life and love and letting go these past years. Yet for me, with that comes the strangest but most powerful peace.

The truth is, we simply don’t know when it will be our turn, the mortality rate remains 100%.

I believe that even during our deepest grief, we should try to surround ourselves with those we love, to have those important conversations and to try live our lives to the full.”

With Caroline’s experience in mind we urge you to record your Wishes on Final Fling. It’s free and easy to do. Just add an idea every time something pops into mind. They’re not instructions but they’ll help guide someone when the time comes.

Details of fundraising events can be found here:


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