Today is the last day in my hard month. June 12th to July 7th are the hardest time for me throughout the year. Today it is 2 years since Eilys’ Funeral. I haven’t really spoken about the funeral itself before, I don’t really. But I wanted to blog about it to mark the day. I really cannot believe that it has been 2 years since that day…
One of the first decisions we made about Eilys’ funeral was that we wanted it to be small. Really small. We only wanted to have immediate family there. I think that some people’s noses were put out of joint and in hindsight that wasn’t very fair but I was really conscious about how hard the day would be. I was worried that Joe, my Dad, my Father in Law and my brother would find it harder to be upset if there were more people there. I wanted us all to be able to feel how we felt and not have to put a brave face on it. I also wanted us to be able to focus on saying goodbye and not focusing on saying hello to people, or finding somewhere for the wake or catering. I just wanted it to be us saying goodbye.
As I have said before the funeral director was so amazing with us. The little touches that they did made the whole process so much easier. Yet again, we were very lucky. We were going to go with a large, national chain of funeral directors but on the recommendation of the Doctor who registered Eilys’ death we went with a small, local one. They were amazing. They made the whole process easy, gentle and were just so wonderful and caring. Me and Joe decided that we would just have a small funeral at the crematorium, we didn’t want anyone to officiate the service, we wanted to do everything ourselves and we wanted her coffin to be waiting there for us as neither of us wanted to parade her through the streets, the sight of a tiny coffin on the way to a funeral is such a sad thing to see. These choices were ones we made for us, they suited how we felt.
I really needed to keep busy so in the days after Eilys’ death I threw myself into a few projects. Firstly, I asked everyone to bring a little posy of flowers to lay on her coffin. A small gesture but a poignant one. I made a bouquet of flowers for Eilys using pages from 2 of my favourite books, Harry Potter and To Kill a Mockingbird, a others out of a few of the balloons she’d had for her birthday. I also made everyone a little order of service on a lollipop stick. We had these at our wedding too so I wanted to do it again for her. It had a photo of Eilys on one side and the Snowdrop poem on the other side. I also busied myself making a music playlist for the funeral. I wanted music that Eilys would have known or recognised but music that was fitting for a funeral. In the end, we had a playlist of songs that were mostly from the soundtracks of films we watched during physio sessions. The playlist was as follows:
Blowing in the Wind – Bob Dylan (instrumental)
Vincent – Don McClean (instrumental)
I’ll be right here – Alan Silvestri (Forrest Gump OST)
Clair De Lune – Debussy
Wow – Thomas Newman (Finding Nemo OST)
Eve – Thomas Newman (Wall:E OST)
I still cannot listen to any of those songs without being in floods of tears.
On the day of her funeral we got up, got dressed (dress code was “wear what you are comfortable in”) and we made our way to the crematorium. I remember looking at the graves as we walked to the entrance but all the ones that I paid attention and actually read were for either babies or children and it hurt, physically hurt me. The funeral directors met us at the door and showed us where the coffin was and let us set the music up.
There was only me, Joe, Dylan, my parents, Joe’s parents, my brother and sister in law and Joe’s sister there. The funeral director had made the coffin for Eilys himself and it was beautiful. They didn’t charge us for the funeral either which was so amazing and we are so grateful for (which I think is a pretty universal thing). I can’t remember much of the funeral itself. I remember us all standing around her coffin that was way too small to be a coffin. I think we all said something but I can’t remember what. We left her out posies and we said goodbye. The final goodbye.
The one thing that I remember with clarity from the funeral was that as me and Joe were saying goodbye, just the 2 of us, something caught my eye. Glinting. There was a tiny bit of glitter on the casket. Eilys always seemed to have a little bit of glitter on her most of the time, it made me smile, like a little wink from her.
After the funeral we went to Queen’s Park, which is one of our favourite places. I had ordered some butterflies for us to release in her honour so we all went to a place in the park called Burma Star Island. It is a little spot off the side of a bridge, it’s quiet. We opened the box with the butterflies in and I think we all expected them to fly away really quickly but they didn’t. We all had a hold of a butterfly each, for ages. We watched them fly around us all, we watched them feed off some flowers and then after a good long while they fluttered away.
Dylan requested that we have an ice cream and play crazy golf which is what we did. It may seem like a weird thing to do after a funeral, especially after such a sad funeral but what we all needed the most, I think, is to reconnect as a family and smile together. Yes, it was weird and yes, it was really hard but we got through as a family unit and that is how we get through things still. After the ice cream and golf we went to the park and played with Dylan and then we all went back to our house for a pot luck kind of buffet and carrot cake.
Like her life, Eilys’ funeral was beautiful. We faced it like we faced her terminal diagnosis; together and supporting each other and doing it our way.
Thank you for reading