August 17th 2018

Planning a funeral: Is there anything destined to make the heart as heavy?

A strange power overcomes you when you’re faced with the enormity of having to do just that . Things that you think you won’t be able to manage to do suddenly become extremely important to get right. Factoring in what is possible with any wishes the person who left requested becomes you life’s sole work. Nothing you’ve ever done before even comes close to matching it.

I urge everyone to let their nearest and dearest know exactly what it is they want. Those departed won’t know what’s happening – or they might but that’s not a debate I’m having here! – but the person left beats themselves up continuously in trying to get everything right; in fear of missing something out.

Some of Gail’s friends came to see me a couple of nights after she had passed, intent on making sure that Gail ‘went as she would have wanted’. I could only imagine what Gail would have been saying had she been watching. I’m fiercely independent and single-minded and I will never be told what to do. I’ll listen to suggestions but don’t ever think I won’t treat them as anything other than suggestions. If I feel I’m being led I will go a different way just for the hell of it. I could almost feel and hear Gail at this point saying ‘You don’t know what you’re doing. Leave him alone. He always seems mild-mannered but push him and he will blow’. I nearly did too; I was on the verge of exploding but a fortuitous phone call from a an old family member helped calm me down. 

One thing I knew without doubt. Gail wanted a pink coffin, to be cremated in her wedding dress with ‘all her bling’ and she wanted her life celebrated not mourned. She wanted people to laugh, dance and remember her fondly. I never thought I could manage the celebration – in fact, celebrating in the normal sense is just a pipe dream for anyone associated with attending a funeral – but I understood what I could do to give her what she wanted and, over the coming days and weeks, I was able to tailor everything to ensure she was given a fitting farewell.

With the funeral scheduled for August 30th and with every day hanging heavier, I started posting reminders on social media of better days. I recreate them here so that everyone can share the experience and just get a sense of who and what Gail was.

Two years ago this very day. A great time in Vegas for Blagg Jnr’s wedding. Odd to think we returned home five days earlier from the U.S. than planned because we’d spent too much. Two years later and did it matter? Let this be a lesson to you all.

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