Arranging Mum’s Funeral

Maybe about a week before Mum died, I messaged my friend Sophie whose Mum works as a funeral director. I asked Sophie if I could come round hers at some point and chat to her Mum about what to expect when planning a funeral, the “plans”, the average costs etc. At this point, Sophie and I had been friends for nearly ten years so I was pretty comfortable around her Mum which was helpful considering the gut wrenching topic I wanted to talk to her about. We popped it in the diary and that was that! Mum died before we were able to have that chat, so I told Sophie and she got some details from her Mum about who I should call. The undertakers came over and took Mum away and then we had to plan her funeral.

When she had learned she was going to die, Mum took it in her stride and wanted my brother and I to feel as though we were approaching the task together. She asked us both to choose a piece of music to be played, and to write a tribute each. We both went away and thought about it individually and just so happened to choose the same song. It was Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling in Love. We chose to use that as Mum’s processional music, and later chose Helene Smith’s Pain in my Heart as a reflection piece during the service. Pain in my Heart had been on a Bupa advert on television during Mum’s cancer treatment and she really related to both the context/content of the advert and the lyrics of the song. Mum chose her own recessional music, which was Jo Stafford’s You Belong to Me. I’d never heard that song before Mum’s funeral, and now as soon as I hear those first notes, I am a MESS.

I think Mum regarded her funeral as almost a farewell party. She wrote her own speech and demanded that she got the last word! Our dear family friend, Richard, read Mum’s words as the last part of the service before Mum’s song. I’m going to do later posts of Mum’s service, our tributes, and her final words. Mum asked that her funeral be as happy as it could be – she wanted people to wear colour and flowers. I wore my baby pink leather jacket that Mum absolutely adored. She wanted people to laugh at her funeral. Mum wanted her farewell to be a “See you soon” rather than a “Goodbye forever”. She asked to be cremated and requested that a large portion of her ashes be interred into the grave that her father is in as well. She had a white coffin with pink ribbons tied to the fixtures.

I looked through maybe a hundred photos of Mum to find the right ones to use for her order of service, the memorial photo atop her coffin, and for a reflection slideshow during the service. The photo I used for Mum’s coffin was one that a friend had taken of her when she was about 21. I included photos from all times of her life in the slideshow and tried to get them chronologically correct. I also chose a funeral arrangement of pink and white roses, geraniums, and posies – aptly named “Rosie Posie” which was what Mum always called me. It was meant to be.

After all of the planning, the day before the funeral I left work abut two hours early to do any last-minute preparations. My Nan, brother, and his girlfriend and I took the food over to the retirement community’s events hall (where Mum’s wake was to be held the next day) at about 8pm. Their line dancing group was just finishing up a routine to a club mix of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On which was really funny and really awkward. After we’d done everything, I was looking forward to Mum’s funeral, and I think I was the only person who had that feeling. I wanted Mum to be proud of what we had helped to plan for her. I wanted the closure, I wanted the relief of being able to say “see you soon”.

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