Seniors on the Coast article (Jan 2015)


In both my private life, professional life and in the public realm, this week has been poignant with love and loss. Sometimes the rich tapestry of life delivers crescendos of peak experiences that can whirl you up in an eddy of emotions and land you….well…not in Kansas Toto!

With a combined career as both celebrant and pastoral care practitioner, life does tend to bring a disproportionate amount of both love filled joyful moments as well as sadness and loss across my path.

This week, though, it’s been a ‘four funerals and a wedding’ week. Like the famous movie, only in reverse, and much less swearing…well maybe only just a bit less. Unlike the movie though, there is no tidy happy ending, rather life goes on with tough news and challenging moments keeping on rolling in like the tide with cherished ones getting scary diagnoses, little ones growing up too soon, a family pet dying and even the climate displaying a menacing derangement.

The landscape of love and losses is my workplace. However, this last week has been a bit extraordinary. I have had to draw deeply not only on my professional skills and knowledge but also the seek the care of others, walk a well worn trench along my beach; as well as calling in the big guns too…..a call out to the great mystery and source of life and love….God, and the Universe to keep me in a safe and secure embrace.

There were not enough ‘emoticons’ on my iPhone to describe the rollercoaster of my week.  It began after just finishing a particularly challenging funeral of a septuagenarian after which I was called just in time to midwife the death of my own dear Nanny of 96 years of age. Earlier in that week, in my volunteer role as a hospital ward Chaplain, I had already been bedside at the impending deaths of two more dear souls, whispering them across that fragile threshold.  Two days later my husband was at the funeral of his dear mate.

Then, on the very evening the news of cricketer Philip Hughes death ricocheted around the world, I was at a love filled, joyful wedding.   By this stage the ceremony had segued into the reception which I was also MCing. The guests had been invited to write on message cards their answers to various questions about the couple and I was sharing some of the gold nuggets of wit and wisdoms as the evening flowed.  One of the questions was, “where do you see us in 10 years time?” One gorgeous gentleman responded, “I’m 78. I’ll be happy if I see you anywhere in 10 years time!” Much laughter followed, and yet, like a lot of raw humour, the truth is very close to the surface.

Before any of us had even heard the news of Hughes’ tragic passing, the delicate tango of life and death; love and loss; joy and sadness was already present in the midst of the celebrations.

It is true, amidst the joy and laughter and love, their emotional opposites are never too far away.  Our human experience is uniquely characterised by duality.  There is no life without death, happiness without sadness, love without hate, joy without sorrow, and laughter without tears.

Generally life meters out these contrasting experiences in gentle measure, in a usual ebb and flow but sometimes, we can experience a ‘king tide’ event. Sometimes it feels too much.

How do we cope? How do bear up? How do we resume?

The beautiful words of the Captain of the hour, Michael Clarke, seem to best light the way, as he reflected on the human Spirit, “We must listen to it. We must cherish it. We must learn from it. We must dig in and get through to tea. And we must play on”, because greater than the forces of duality, is the natural cycle of life and love. The cycles, the seasons and the circle of life continue eternally and we evolve, richly spiralling ever upwards towards our continual advancement, betterment and greatness.

And as I finish, an email comes through from another recent couple I married. A honeymoon conception. Baby is due in June. Life and love comes up trumps again! Ah joy.

Much love. Sarah

Sarah Tolmie is a life & love coach, therapist and consultant. Her practice focuses on helping individuals, couples and families navigate, grow and heal through all their life & love events, changes and challenges –  including love, marriage & family relationships; success, health & wellness; and grief & loss, as well as coping with illness, dying and death. Sarah is also a Life & Love Celebrant, and Pastoral Care Practitioner, creating profound and meaningful ceremonies for all life & love events. In her practice Sarah’s focus is on maintaining a heart-based, love-led, laughter-filled and meaning-making life.  Sarah is also a Laughter Yoga Practitioner. You can visit her website  and receive her Daily Love updates on her Facebook page at Sarah Tolmie – Life & Love.