Funerals aren't something we look forward to or particularly enjoy. When we describe what a funeral was like don't we often say that it was a lovely service, a fitting tribute, a good way to say goodbye, what they would have wanted? I think most of us would agree they are necessary as without them it is difficult to find that over-used word "closure".
I'd like to put forward the hypothesis that when someone is made redundant a similar rite of passage is necessary. With hindsight it is since the leaving drinks I "enjoyed" with my friends two weeks ago that I have been able to move on from the situation I was in after losing my job.
"Enjoyed" sits within inverted commas since it is hard to use that as the word to describe that evening. It was lovely to see friends old and new, colleagues past and present. (Well as present as they can be when you no longer work with them...) I admit to being tearful, feeling fragile, drinking large amounts of tonic water, wanting the night to end and considering doing a runner.
I stuck it out however and the conversations I had were precious. Some of them will stay with me for a very long time. Above all else they helped me to move on, to let go, to look to the future. The week prior to "the drinks" had been one of angst and anguish, tears and tantrums. I had almost cancelled it, and considered simply not turning up. But you can't have a funeral without a body...
Since that night - and I'd like to reassure everyone I did at the end of it enjoy a glass or two of red with especially close friends who had travelled a very long way to share the evening - things have been "on the up".
After a particularly stressful and soggy session at the Jobcentre I was redirected to a warm and sympathetic advisor who understands and "gets" me. It looks like the government (God bless'em) will pay for me to get the Prince2 Project Management certification, and can also offer me some advice on setting up a small (cupcake?) business.
This week I have worked 16 hours - declared on a Form B7 so I lose my JSA - at a rate I would have laughed at six months ago. Somehow that doesn't matter, just being in work does so much for your self esteem and bolsters your confidence. Once upon a long time ago I desperately wanted to be a journalist but was told I was too old to train. Here I am working as a reporter! This week I have written about a swimathon, a marathon, a skydive, a litter pick, a football team, someone living below the line, a flower festival, an x factor contestant and - favourite story of all - three hives of honey bees buzzing away on the local business park.
I've baked for kids with chickenpox, incredibly brave women who're battling cancer, people celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, and for my family. I've walked miles, gained a better understanding of the bus timetables in South West Hertfordshire, spoken to any number of random people and feel fitter and slimmer than I have for ten years!
I've allowed my body clock to have its way - enjoying the peace and quiet in the house late at night and waking naturally at 7.30am rather than with the shriek of the alarm an hour beforehand. I haven't missed the Jubilee Line even one teensy little bit.
But - can you feel the but? I miss my friends and colleagues, the work that I used to do. The pride in working for an agency that does such amazingly good work, the buzz of being in the greatest city on earth on a daily basis.
Maybe one day I'll be back. For now I'm grateful that saying goodbye was such a positive experience. Thanks for reading this far - here's a cupcake treat for you...