Why I chose Poppy's for my child's funeral

Two year Teddy and his parents Georgina and Silas

Six minute read

Teddy was kind, funny and clever. A chatty two-year-old who loved football, ice cream, vehicles (especially black taxis!) and his baby brother Laurie. Teddy’s mum Georgina explains how this family faced something that no one should have to: planning their child’s funeral.

“A week after Laurie was born, Teddy was sent home from nursery because he was unwell. We thought it was just a sickness bug — but the vomiting continued, so we took him to the GP three times.

“It got so bad that we took him to A&E. They nearly sent us home with a referral, but a hero consultant came to the rescue and said we should have a scan right away.

“The following day, Teddy went through a very long brain surgery to try to remove a tumour. They identified the type of cancer as ependymoma.”

More surgeries followed, as well as complications and infections. In early 2024, Teddy declined rapidly.

“The treatment couldn't catch up with the disease, it was just moving too quickly. On Valentine's Day Teddy slipped into a coma.”

“Poppy’s made me feel safe.”

“A few days later, I suddenly thought that I should be getting ahead of the game, I should be thinking about funeral directors. There’s one at the end of our road, but it’s very old-school — bleak, dark, unfriendly and unwelcoming.

“I looked on google and saw the 5-star reviews for Poppy’s. The design, the wording, the functionality of the Poppy’s website made me feel safe. I felt like I needed to get on the phone immediately.

“I spoke to Lily and the information she gave me made a lot of sense. She was really kind, but without that head-tilty compassion that you're so fed up with by that point.

“I went upstairs and said to Silas, my husband, 'I've got the funeral directors nailed. Now, we don't need to think about it until it's time'.

“On Friday 1 March, Teddy came home. As soon as we got back, both of our cats curled up on his feet. We all sat in the living room together in a makeshift bed. He slipped away in the middle of the night on Sunday.

“We didn’t want to phone any friends or family right away. We turned on some fairy lights and lay in the living room with Teddy, cats still on his feet, and did everything we wanted to do in that moment.”

Georgina called Poppy’s as soon as we opened on Monday morning.

“That's one of the worst phone calls you ever had to make, but it felt really safe and reassuring. They asked us what time we’d like them to come and told us: there are the names of the people coming, this is the vehicle, we’ll phone you when we're 10 minutes away, we'll phone you again when we're outside. I could hang up the phone and not have any queries.

“Then we put on some banging music that Teddy liked and tried to spend those last moments being as normal as possible."

Brightly coloured flowers tied with a Peppa Pig ribbon

"The team were peaceful, calm and friendly."

“The thing I was most afraid of was the starkness of Teddy being put into a black bag and seeing him leave the house. So I decided, when Poppy’s arrived, to see how could we work around that.

“When the team came they were peaceful, calm, friendly. They didn’t do anything that made the situation worse.

“Rather than just putting him on the trolley, they had a smaller box, like a travel cot which I asked them to bring into the living room, away from the trolley, so that we could make him snug with all of his things in a nicer environment. It was such a relief when they brought it in. We were able to have a final cuddle with Teddy and to put all his toys around him. There was no rush.

“They took an inventory of everything we sent with him. That was so reassuring. You have to make really difficult decisions in that moment about which things are going to go with your person. I remember thinking, ‘That's his favourite cuddly toy — do I want it with him or do I want to keep it forever?’

“We came into Poppy’s a couple of days after he had left home. It was vital to us that Teddy was near people that we trusted and could check on him for us. Everybody knew we were Teddy's parents. The first person we saw just said, ‘He's got Nellie with him’. She knew the names of his toys and that made us feel really comfortable.”

Georgina and Silas had started discussing what they wanted for the funeral shortly before Teddy died.

“We realised that some of the wider family would like a traditional funeral to say goodbye, but others could be damaged by that. So we decided to do the funeral with just Teddy, me, Silas and baby Laurie. Because then it kind of ends how it started.

“During all the weeks in hospital, Silas and I had never spoken about the funeral because we obviously didn't want it to happen, But individually, we had been thinking about doing the cremation extremely privately, then having a big party to celebrate Teddy at some point.

“She encouraged us to do what we wanted.”

“Teddy’s favourite vehicle was a black taxi. We spoke to Hannah, our funeral director, about black taxi hearses. But even the thought of him being in any kind of hearse, and not in a vehicle with us, felt completely bonkers.

“Hannah said, ‘Why don't you have a normal black taxi and have Teddy with you?’. I had thought that a few weeks before but had been too afraid to ask. She encouraged us to do what we wanted.

“We decided to have the Bellacouche shroud, so that he was in a soft, cosy piece of wool that made it very easy to hold him, cuddle him, and have a final moment with him. The Poppy’s team had sewn his name onto part of the shroud and we were able to keep that afterwards.

“I never could have imagined those moments being so magical, because this is the worst thing that can ever happen to you. But you get to a stage where you have to accept certain elements of that unimaginable process. Holding Teddy in the back of a black taxi on my last day with him was actually a really good thing.

“We chose Mortlake Crematorium because of the Poppy’s blog, and Hannah ordered a simple but beautiful posy of flowers which we kept and dried afterwards. I also cut some flowers from our garden on the morning of the funeral and tied them with a Peppa Pig ribbon.

“We had a mixture of music, from the song that I used to play Teddy in the womb when I was pregnant, to his favourite TV show theme tunes, to the rock music that he loved.

'We love you Teddy' in white letters on black hoarding outside Ritzy cinema in Brixton

“Get all the help you possibly can.”

“The following day we had a party with 150 people in the Ritzy cinema in Brixton. We put together some content which was played on the cinema screen, which flowed through his life, his personality and his time with us.

"Silas had written him a song, so we had that, with lots of images, nice readings and things that felt really light-hearted. Nothing about cancer or his struggle. Just, ‘Here's Teddy, we hope you all walk away feeling that you've been with him for 30 minutes’.”

"I’d advise anyone in a similar situation to get all the help you possibly can, especially with counselling, funding and finding a really good funeral director. But, on the flip side, turn away the help that you don't want or need. When people offer you things and it feels overwhelming, it's absolutely fine to say ‘No, thank you’.

“Teddy had cancer and there's nothing we can do to change that, but we can't regret that he lived. Every time I think that he died that makes me extremely sad. Then I flip it on its head and repeat the mantra of ‘Yes, but he lived’.”

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