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Creating a Funeral (a catharsis)

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  • Creating a Funeral (a catharsis)

    Reading AuntyNet's thread about A Little Appreciation brought this to mind. Dad died at the end of January 2007, a fortnight short of his 93rd birthday.

    He'd spent the last few years of his life in residential care - not because he needed it despite his visual handicap, but because Mum's stroke had increased her dementia and he would not have been able to cope with her at home. So he decide to sell the house and go into care.

    Fortunately when Mum was due for discharge a local home had a double room vacant and were more than willing to accommodate the cat and dog as well, they would have taken Dad's hens if we provided a hut and run but the hens were rehomed to a place where a banty cock found these large Light Sussex hens a great delight!

    They'd been there 3 years when Dad started to go downhill and visiting was difficult for me, I'd always been "Daddy's girl" and to have no witty responses to my remarks was a great blow.

    The staff were great - they took over the walking of the dog and tried their best to keep Tom in good spirits.

    His last words were "Is this the one I chew or the one I swallow" and an hour later when they went in to help him dress he died in their arms. His key worker was devastated as, in 20 years of working, she'd never been present at the moment of death.

    I found that organising his funeral, he'd specified "no religious service", and printing out an order of service actually helped me work through my grief.

    A friend in Llangollen had a shire horse and Yorkshire wagon - but she said that, as she was working full time, she wouldn't be able to get her wintered out horse into good enough state and we also came to the decision that a waggon with sides would not be easy to transfer the coffin. She put me in touch with a semi-retired couple with a shire and a flatbed wagon.

    I made Corn Dolly favours for the horse's harness, Dad used to make them for his team when he was taking a wagon to market, and a small Corn Dolly to go with a single white rose and spray of juniper on the coffin.

    There wasn't a dry eye in the small congregation as his four grandsons brought in the coffin to the Battlefield Band's Last Trip Home but people had happy memories as we walked out to the Watersons' Jolly Waggoner.

    There were family and friends who couldn't attend so I put the funeral on my website. It's not usual to take photos at a funeral but the manager of the crematorium had his camera there also - they'd never had anything like this before.

    My SIL said that while they were waiting in a car park to pick up one of their offspring there was a hearse with black horses and ostrich plumes and she'd said to the others that that was what she would like, however when she saw Tom's she'd changed her mind
    ElaineJ soap and other stuff

  • #2
    Such a lovely gesture, and im not surprised your SIL changed her mind. Yep you get me in tears now.


    • #3
      A person with a somewhat cynical outlook on life but who would not have looked out of place at Appleby Horse Fair emailed me that it brought a tear to his eye and that I had given Dad a goodly sendoff.
      ElaineJ soap and other stuff


      • #4
        its usually very hard to make me cry but your story and pics did it.


        • #5
          I'll treasure his last words - typical of his pragmatic laidback approach to life.
          ElaineJ soap and other stuff


          • #6
            Elaine, that was an absolutely beautiful sendoff .......... and yes, you brought a tear to my eye too

            A mind is like a only functions when open


            • #7
              Elaine that was a beautiful to read thank you, when my little sister died in may this year I organized all of her funeral and officiated the service and I think it really helped me deal with losing her, I'd brought her up from when she was little so I felt I needed to do this last thing for her and bless she had the horse and carriage with all the feather plumbs, we had decorated her willow casket with butterflies and ribbons and tried to make everything beautiful for her on her last trip. I followed that with quick succession of 3 other funerals but my little sisters was beautiful. And thank you for the corn dolly she is lovely...

              "Friends help you move. Real friends help you move bodies."


              • #8
                What a very poignant and beautiful tribute to your dad.
                I am also so glad to hear that he was in a care home that was so accommodating and lovely as that is sadly not always the case.
                Terry xxx
                You can't have everything. Where would you put it all?" - Steven Wright
                Website Twitter Facebook Blog Folksy


                • #9
                  How lovely, I have a lump in my throat. What a great care home too. My mum has said that when its her time she wants to be cremated with her cat's ashes and for me to scatter them both out at sea. I didnt really like the idea but reading your post has made me think more. Why shouldnt we all have the send off that best depicts our life. Well done for breaking with tradition and doing what your dad would have wanted.
                  Reach for the moon-if you miss-you'll still be amongst stars


                  • #10
                    That's such a beautiful and moving post Elaine, and I'm so glad that you found organising the funeral helpful to you & that you were able to give your dad such a wonderful and very personal send off.

                    Much love

                    Jan x
                    "Human beings, who are almost remarkable in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so" - Douglas Adams

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                    • #11
                      I found your words beautiful and moving, thank you so much for sharing your Dad's last journey with us.

                      "One must have chaos in oneself in order to give birth to a dancing star."


                      • #12
                        what an uplifting post, i`m sure your father would have been very pleased
                        that you gave him such a fitting sendoff
                        a couple of years ago when my cousin died very suddenly her daughter organised her funeral,it was a non religious ceromony and iwas not sure what to expect but it was wonderful (maybe not the wright word) so personel and all about her and her family and friends.
                        it certainly changed my attitude


                        • #13
                          Thank you for sharing your dad's final journey with us... I'm sure that he would be very proud of you for such a wonderful tribute.


                          • #14
                            Elaine thanks for sharing that with us it was beautiful to read. I too planned my brother's funeral and delivered the service myself. I felt it was right for me to do so and whilst the actual presentation wasn't my best performance, family and friends were so complimentary.
                            Chris xx
                            My Website
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                            • #15
                              What a beautiful funeral! I bought my own flowers for my dad's funeral. I was too far away to be any help but I was determined to do the flowers. I found it a lot harder to do than I thought but the florist was a great help. I chose a pink spray because my daughter loves pink, and a spray was so that it could go back to my dad's care home to be re arranged. He was only 65.