The cheery haven that is the Your Good Mourning shop in Walkley seems an unlikely place to talk about death. But here a team of volunteers are on hand to help anyone - especially people dealing with death.
IF THERE’S one thing that happens to it all, it’s death.
But despite it being life’s only real certainty, it is perhaps the most difficult thing to deal with.
But one resourceful Sheffield woman has found a way to help people deal with the loss of a loved one.
Glenda Kirby, aged 49, has set up Your Good Mourning, a drop-in charity shop-cum-chatroom in Walkley.
“I’ve wanted to do something like this since my father died in 2002 and then this property came up on the market and I just went for it,” says Glenda, from Walkley.
“When I lost my dad I went a bit mad and I found it really difficult to deal with, and I didn’t feel like I got the support I needed, so I felt I had nowhere to turn.”
Glenda is determined that her shop, which has been up and running for five months so far, will be a haven for people suffering from loss.
“It’s really hard to explain what it’s like when you’re dealing with the loss of a loved one and sometimes - after a while - it can become a stigma to talk about it, as if by a certain point you should have got over it,” she says.
But Glenda’s difficult experience with mourning the loss of her beloved father has made her an empathic listener.
“We had a lady in the shop buying something who told me about losing her husband and I just said, ‘Oh, do you have a picture of him I could have a look at?’.
“So she showed me her picture of him and you could see how her mood lifted after being able to talk to someone about him.
“It doesn’t have to be a serious sit-down counselling-style session, sometimes it’s just a casual chat that cheers people up.
“The lady walked out of the shop looking so much better, it was lovely.”
It’s not hard to see how the shop has a positive effect on people.
The atmosphere is cheery and bustling, the decoration is quirky and crafted with utmost tender loving care, and Glenda, along with her staff, has a warm, bubbly demeanour.
Volunteer Andy Liddle’s dad died when he was just 18. He too struggled with dealing with the loss. “I shut down after my dad died but now I try to remember the good things,” he says.
Both Glenda and Andrew believe it helps to focus on the funny stories and cheery memories when thinking about a lost loved one.
And, with that in mind, Andy, 31, from Walkley, is hoping to launch a ‘memory box’ campaign in which people can start gathering those special mementos that remind them of fond times.
“It’s something you don’t think about but if we all collected the little things that remind us of that special someone it can really help,” he says.
“It could be a birthday card with a nice message or tickets for a football match - whatever it is, keep hold of it and put it somewhere safe.”
Glenda is a believer in the same thing.
“It sounds daft but my dad always had Wrigleys chewing gum with him and before he died he gave me half a packet. I still have that packet of chewing gum but I cherish it so much.”
And it’s the little things that make mourning easier.
“When we were at my dad’s funeral they played ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ from the Monty Python sketch and we found ourselves swaying together at the same time.
“Although I was a real mess with tears streaming down my face it really lifted me at the same time. Laughing is the best way to deal with death.”
Andy still has an old scratch card that belonged to his father. “It’s funny really but that scratch card means more to me than any lump sum of £20,000 would in the bank.”
As part of its mission to help people deal with loss, Your Good Mourning has teamed up with Dying Matters, an organisation that aims to promote awareness of dying, death and bereavement.
Part of Dying Matters’ mission is to talk about death while people are alive. It’s something Glenda and Andy believe in too.
“It would help if people spoke about what they want for their own funerals, that way it would be personal and special and help the families as well as celebrating the life of the person who’s died,” says Andy.
Glenda agrees. “You’re in such a state of shock when a loved one dies that you don’t want to think about anything, so most people go for the standard funeral, but often they can be impersonal.”
And in a bid to make the funeral and burial process more personalised, Your Good Mourning has come up with a variety of solutions. “We’ve got pieces of paper with wildflower seeds impregnated in them, so they can be handed out at a funeral and then easily planted in memory of that person,” says Glenda.
“We also produce booklets to remember people by.”
Glenda digs out a booklet she put together for her family in memory of her dad.
“That’s him,” she says, proudly flicking throughthe old photographs. Throughout all the pictures her dad is smiling - whether in overalls or bell-bottoms.
“We added quotes to accompany the pictures but we had to leave out the swearing - dad swore all the time!” she laughs.
n Your Good Mourning set up in November with the aim of being a homely, welcoming place not only to buy quirky goods but for people to chat about death
n It is a non-for-profit organisation and works with Dying Matters, a charity that aims to help society cope with bereavement
n Your Good Mourning raises money for Cardiac Risk in the Young, The Compassionate Friends, Support and Care After Road Death Injury, Support After Murder And Manslaughter, Widowed and Young, and Sheffield Macmillan Unit for Palliative Care.
n The shop is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm. Call 0114 233 3448.
n As Your Good Mourning is a charity shop, it welcomes any donations.