How we dressed our brother for his funeral

Family group in formal dress, black and white photo
Abner (left), as a young man, with his family including sisters Monica and Rowena

Four minute read

Abner Samuel was part of a large family, spread across the world, which reunited for his funeral in London. Here, his sisters Rowena and Monica tell us about their brother and how important it was to visit and dress Abner at Poppy’s before his funeral.

Our brother Abner was a quiet and introverted person. He was the only brother of four sisters — two older, two younger. He was in the middle.

He could be quite shy, but he had his own quiet way of showing affection. He didn't say much, but he would do small things for you to show his care.

We didn't want the funeral to be a big pompous thing. Instead, we wanted something quite simple. It had to be a traditional church service. He was not a regular church goer, but he had a lot of reverence for the church and for the scripture. All Saints’ Church in Tooting was our home church, so we wanted the funeral to be there.

Reverend Mae who led Abner’s funeral had moved to the UK from America, just like Abner had done. She was very open and inviting and she visited him when he was not well. They had a rapport — they would share their views about life in America.

‘We were welcomed each time we visited’

When we had to plan the funeral, Reverend Mae sat with us as we suggested the things that we wanted. Her sermon was so personal and really reflected Abner.

She also mentioned Poppy’s to us. She said, go along, talk to them and see if you are comfortable with them. So we came in and talked to Lily and that's how our journey with Poppy’s started.

It felt like a professional team, but it didn't feel like we were dealing with a business organisation. They gave us options to choose from and it was very friendly and relaxed. Each time we went in they were so welcoming.

Abner Samuel
"He could be quite shy, but he had his own quiet way of showing affection."

‘He looked good’

A few days before the funeral, we came into Poppy’s to dress him. When Abner moved here from the US, he got rid of a lot of his clothes. But he kept one suit — he didn't want to part with that one!

It was a good colour choice, beige with a cream shirt, and very good quality. We made sure that the tie matched too. I was so happy when I went to do the dressing that the calico sheet that Poppy’s had wrapped him in matched the colour of the shirt!

Two members of Poppy’s team were there to help us put on his clothes. They asked me questions about Abner and helped me with some techniques. We did his hair and put on a little make up too.

When Abner wasn't well and we were looking after him, he would always tell us not to fuss over him. But now we felt we could fuss as much as we wanted!

When he was dressed, Emma [who was helping us from Poppy’s team] said: "Mr Samuel, you look so handsome now, and you can't say anything about it!" She was right — he looked good.

The room where we had his coffin was very pleasant — the windows brightened him as he lay there. It did not feel gloomy at all, it was very tranquil.

Dressing him was a unique experience. It was an important closure for us.

Abner with his wife and children
Abner with his wife and children

‘A beautiful family reunion’

Abner’s ex-wife, son, daughter and grandchildren all travelled from the United States for the funeral, so did his sister from Canada. They arrived the day before. Some nieces and nephews from Canada only arrived on the day of the funeral.

We requested to see Abner the day before and on the morning of the funeral. The Poppy’s team had a ton of patience and gentleness in making last minute adjustments when different members of the family flew in at different times. It was very important for the family to say a last goodbye to him.

Abner was buried in Hendon on the other side of London, next to our uncle and two of our aunts who were already buried there. We have family from all over the world, so if they visit, this means it is possible for them to visit all the graves at the same time.

Some of the relatives from America, Canada and the UK met each other for the first time at Abner’s funeral, even though they were in their 30s and 40s. They all got on well and will keep in contact now.

At the funeral, all the sisters, cousins, nieces, and nephews were standing beside us. It was a beautiful reunion and an extremely elating feeling to see three generations of the Samuel family gathered from far and wide.

Abner's goodbye was enveloped with love from everyone.

Read more stories from Poppy's clients. Find out about how we helped Susannah arrange a football fan's funeral for her dad.

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