Once the formalities of paperwork, time and dates were sorted, we could begin to think about how we wanted Dad’s last goodbye to unfold. Looking back, I found it very uplifting and enlightening. It also helped to be busy. I fully understand that the opportunity to go on this journey was because dad’s death was neither traumatic or unexpected; I had the benefit of time and thought and above all calmness. That’s not to say I didn’t grieve for my loss – I did at the most unexpected moments.
We knew that we wanted an eco coffin. Something from sustainable wood and we were fortunate enough to find the website of Feet First Coffins. Made of solid pine wood, with no screws or nails, they are 100% biodegradable. What’s more they are hand crafted, something that I knew Dad would appreciate. The inside is lined with unbleached cotton and meadow grass hay. The owner, Paul, was more than helpful and his reading of the mood of the family was pitch perfect at every step. He even asked for a playlist of Dad’s favourite music – it’s played in the workshop whilst the coffin is being built – I do like to believe that Dad heard it *somewhere*. What’s more, the legally required details of the deceased would be etched on the coffin by hand.
We’d decided to have his funeral service, at home. We have an estate car, the plan was to bring him home from the funeral home, adorn his coffin with the White Ensign and decorate Mum & Dad’s private compound with fairy lights, candles and a fire pit. To ensure that there were no mishaps with the size of the coffin and the size of the car, we arranged a trip to Buckinghamshire to collect his coffin.
We knew we wanted flowers, but we didn’t want flowers to be brought home after the funeral to serve as a sadness tinged reminder of the event – I wanted something to make us smile with remembrance from the outset. Instead, I called a local florist and ordered 2 displays of Gerberas – “the brightest colours you can get” was the only instruction I left. 1 display was for mum, ready arranged in a vase and 1 display was for me, supplied as loose stems so I could arrange them at home, as that’s something I enjoy immensely. With Mum’s display, I wanted to be able to present her with *her* flowers, something to make her smile. Dad’s coffin would need an arrangement on the top and I planned to forage greenery from the garden in a trug basket I already had. I just needed some white flowers for contrast – I chose 5 stems of white Lisianthus for their small and delicate flowers. Also there was an abundance of flowers on each stem. The plan was to also take 1 Gerbera stem from each of our displays and arrange for them to be put in with Dad – He would have some of our flowers rather than us having his funeral flowers after the event.
On a Saturday, a week before the cremation date, we set off for Buckingamshire to collect dad’s coffin, with a pit stop for the flowers en route. Collecting a huge amount of Gerberas, 5 abundantly flowering Lisianthus and associated greenery was a remarkable experience. The colours were bright and vivid and transformed the back of the car into a wildly cheerful flower meadow, the first of many pleasurable experiences to come whereby our sense of smell, touch and sight would be delighted time & time again.
More on that experience in another post.