Ruth’s gifts to saying goodbye

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Ruth Hutchinson… “I decided to get stuff that represented mum.” Photo by Danielle Nohra

WHEN Ruth Hutchinson’s mum died three years ago she wanted to find a way to have her mum, Jill, remembered forever.

“I needed to do something different, but I didn’t know what different was,” says Ruth, 51, of Moncrieff.

Jill, who had been in high-level care for many years, had lost most community points, which left Ruth unsure of who she would get to organise the funeral.

So Ruth decided she would organise it herself.

“After saying I’d do it, I went home and got out programs from funerals I’d been to and thought, what have I committed myself to?” she says.

“Then I thought, I’ve been a TAFE teacher for 10 years and if I can organise classes, I’m sure I can organise this.”

After putting a program together in about 20 minutes, Ruth then ran through it, which took about 15 minutes. At that point she had decided that her mum’s life was worth more than a quarter of an hour so she went back to the drawing board.

“Being a typical female, I headed to the shops for some good therapy,” she says.

And it was at the shops when an idea came to her.

“I decided to get stuff that represented mum,” she says.

So she put together a gift kit and during the service handed it out to family and friends, which became her eulogy as she described the significance of each token.

“I handed it out to everybody and once they had a kit I started to go through each item,” she says.

“Each item represented mum, to me. One item was an alarm clock because Jill was never late for one thing in her life.

“Family and friends at my mum’s funeral said they loved the gift kits and felt it changed the tone of the service, making the ending a lighter and more engaging farewell.”

That was in February and later that year, in December, Ruth was speaking to one of her cousins at a family event who told her how she’d put the alarm clock next to her bed.

“She said: ‘Every morning I get up and look at that clock and think of Aunty Jill’,” says Ruth, who in that conversation realised she had done what she set out to do – have her mum remembered.

“As an only child it was comforting to see that others will remember my mum, too,” she says.

And, while Ruth didn’t know it at the time, it sent her down the path of starting her own business.

“If this worked for me, helping me with my feeling of loss, then this should also help others,” she says.

After starting her business “Forever Impressions” this year, Ruth, or as others like to jokingly call her, “the death queen”, helps others with the loss of a loved one through gifting at a funeral service.

“Many people feel overwhelmed when organising funeral arrangements for a loved one,” she says.

“Forever Impressions can help and support those going through a time of loss by paying tribute to who they love.

“We are able to give those grieving another option by helping them create a lasting memory through a tangible item.”

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Danielle Nohra
Danielle Nohra is a "CityNews" staff journalist.

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