Tag Archives: Funeral

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love” or “Why he isn’t still in the Mortuary!”

mortuary

The family were grief stricken when I saw them at their home.

The man’s death had come suddenly and, even though he was a good old age, it was a shock to them. In amidst the tears they told me about him; his life, achievements, and family – and then more tears flowed. “I don’t know how we’ll get through the day” they said. “And we don’t want a pauper’s funeral!

You may or may not be aware of how expensive a funeral can be. It is estimated that the average cost of laying someone to rest is £3500 –which is a huge whack of money for anyone; and an inconceivably large amount for this grieving family. And that was why I was there. Thankfully, after going from funeral director to funeral director – and being given quotes which they could never afford – they alighted on Bedwardine Funeral Services in St. Johns. As a smaller, independent firm they were able to cut costs to a bare minimum and help this family out. So when my friend from the firm contacted me to see if I would do the funeral for free, rather than the huge £180 which vicars charge, I was only too delighted to do so.

The funeral went well (if you know what I mean). The family were pleased that we had given him a good send-off; and I was happy that I had done a little bit to make a difference to this family. But the biggest credit goes to the Funeral Directors, who bust a gut (and no doubt their profit margins) to serve this family.

I don’t know what would have happened if they hadn’t stepped in; probably this much loved man would still be in the mortuary waiting for arrangements to be made. So here is to community; to local businesses that want to serve ; and to a spirit of generosity and compassion which this family received and this man deserved.
After all, as Mother Teresa reminds us: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

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TOMMY’S BUBBLES: So Perfect…So Fragile. Reflections on a neonatal death

So pefect...so fragile

So pefect…so fragile

Tommy was a beautiful baby; I’ve seen the photos! But after a 10 day fight he passed away in the arms of his lovely Mom Amy along with Dad Chris in the parents room of a West Midlands Hospital.

I’d seen them before; I buried their other son Jayden who died in the womb at 20-something weeks gestation a year ago.

And when Amy and Chris contacted me to tell me that Tommy had died it broke my heart. That it should happen at anyone is tragic; that it should happen to this couple for the second time in one year is without words. And when they asked me to take their son’s funeral, well…

And on the day of the funeral family and friends turned up to pay their respects. Each person was given a pot of bubbles and, at the request of Mom and Dad, I was asked to invite those present to blow their bubbles- which they did – all except me! Why? Because, whilst I managed to get the top off the bubbles, I couldn’t get the wand out. And the more I tried, the slippier my fingers became and the more impossible the task. I told the people at the funeral about this, and they laughed! They knw what I’m like.

The service proceeded, and it was at the point in the service when we were all listening to a piece of music as a reflection, that I succeeded…the bubbles were open. And from behind the lectern, where I was sitting listening with others, I blew bubbles for Tommy. Important, because in his short life amongst us Tommy blew lots of bubbles, and his parents wanted to mark that aspect of his time with us.

They’d told me so much more than this of course. Of his beautiful black hair; his beautiful eyes; the way in which, whilst he would play up for the midwives, he would open his eyes when Mom spoke to him, and curl his little hand around Dad’s finger. Of how he was a fighter, and fought for 10 days (‘stubborn like his mom’) and when he passed away ‘he seemed to wave goodbye with his hand.’ Of how they still sleep with his blanket which holds the smell of him.

And still I blew my bubbles, in the crematorium chapel, and in my mind a picture formed. The picture of something so perfect, and yet so fragile. And one of the bubbles landed on the floor, it stayed for just a little while longer than the others; and just as I thought it might stay forever, it was gone.

At the graveside, after the service in the Chapel, we laid him to rest with his brother Jayden whose funeral I remembered as if it were yesterday. “One on top of another,” said Mum, “like the bunk beds we would have had for them.”

That was a while ago now. I still think about Amy and Chris, of Tommy and Jayden and of all the family. I have met some incredible people in my life; some inspirational people in my work as Chaplain; and Amy and Chris are up there at the top. I wish them good fortune, happiness and peace.

And the other day I saw some bubbles…

…just some kids playing and havig fun…… but guess who I thought of?

Thank You For Taking My Baby’s Funeral

At times I do a quiet piece of work; under the radar. In fact I am off to a tragic event this morning.

I am the one they often call when a baby dies; whether that be an early pregnancy loss or a stillborn baby.
After 4 years chaplaincy, and about 200 funerals, every time is still as tragic and emotional as the first time (and when it gets routine I will pack the job in!)

Often I meet the lovely couple in the hospital. Raw and shocked with their baby with them, they ask for a blessing.

And then we may meet at the funeral. So moving and tragic to see the little white coffin andnd the relatives grief. One of the most emotionally charged events I ever do.

And yet, in thier tragedy and grief, people still say thank you. This is a remarkable testimony to the human spirit.

“David, thank you so much for your care and support over the last few weeks.
The service for (N) was beautiful and every thing we could have wished for. With many thanks, (N&N)”

“Dear David, thank you for the wonderful blessing you gave our son (N) when he tragically passed away in hospital on (date given). It helped a lot talking to you and thans for all of your help with making decisions and planning his funeral. Yours faithfully, love (N&N)”

“Dave, we really do appreciate everything you have done. It has been a very hard time for us both and you have helped us a lot. We are sorry to have met you under these circumstances but hopefully will meet again in the future for something more positive! Thanks again. Hope to see you soon, (N&N).”

I share these, not to big myself up; anyone in my situation would do the same for these families. Rather I write so that, as a Trust, we can appreciate again, the emotional and spiritual needs of the range of patients whom we meet, so often, touched with tragedy and sadness.A privilege to walk with them a few steps of their journey; an inspiration to see them reatain hope when it has been dashed.