Family Planning

Losing Mum has made us think more about Dad too, about our loss, his death and his funeral. It feels more final this time as nobody needs the house anymore and when our father died, Mum handled everything and we simply supported her. We were a tight family unit who stayed by Dad’s hospital bed for almost 3 weeks as he was dying. This time, my sister and I did the weeks of hospital visiting and now we are the recipients of the kind sympathy cards and bouquets. My sister and I are the grown ups this time, we are in charge of funeral decision making, which feels more daunting. Our only concern right now, is to give Mum the funeral that she deserved, a real celebration of a life well-lived, everything else can wait.

We made good progress on the funeral arrangements this week : we have a date, venues and we have let mourners know. Mum was heavily involved in her local Methodist church, where she became responsible for room bookings, amongst other things. So as a tribute to her role there, we were keen to book a room in the church hall for  refreshments after the celebration service. It seems fitting and hopefully, as there is no travelling to be done, more mourners will be tempted to join us afterwards for a cup of tea and something to eat. The church became her social life and she went there everyday pretty much, so it should play a part in her send-off.

Her garden was another love and occupation of hers and the garden is looking beautiful at the moment. So we have extended a welcome to family to come back to the house afterwards, to have the opportunity to sit for a while in the peace of her garden. Since Mum was ill, she had organised a gardener to cut her grass and tidy up, as she was no longer able to manage it herself. On the day of her death,  when we went back to Mum’s house, we confirmed that we wanted him to continue to garden all summer; we could not allow her garden to become unkempt and uncared for, as that would be heartbreaking. We are also hoping that some of the flowers or foliage from her garden will be used to decorate the church and hall, to bring another piece of her to the service.

My sister and I share a clear vision of how we would like her funeral to go and we are laying plans in order for that to happen. As with last weekend however, we need our quiet weekends to restore our strength and to rest at our own family homes, ready to tackle more jobs together next week. So I was at home yesterday, and after what felt like a morning on the telephone, my husband and I took the dogs and Joshua for a walk in the park and then we had lunch in a cafe, which was the first half term activity that I have been able to do with Joshua, on the last day of his school holidays. It was restorative to just be us three together. The importance of family – our tight family unit and the wider extended family too – is brought into sharp focus in times like those we are living right now.

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