Barbara and Douglas' Story

Barbara and Douglas, funeral stories, Poppy's, London ethical funeral directors

My parents, Barbara and Douglas, had met at Air Cadets in their early teens and had been married for 65 years when they sadly passed away within three months of each other. They had lived a full life; raising children of their own and fostering others. Our families could not have had more supportive or loving parents and grandparents.

Dad had been unwell for a long time and had already visited Poppy's without telling us until after the visit. He wanted no fuss; just a cardboard coffin, white van and no-one present. Mum felt she would like something different.

“He wanted no fuss; just a cardboard coffin, white van and no-one present"

In some ways that made it easier to plan for the funeral, but this is never an easy task. With Dad we felt his choice was too stark and not fair to the family; so how did we move forward?

Poppy's were so helpful and suggested just immediate family attend the crematorium to see the coffin brought in and to have a short period of time to play a song or say a few words so we felt we had been included in this final journey. This made it an easy choice for us to return to Poppy's when we needed to arrange Mum’s funeral.

Neither parent was religious, and the Celebrant recommended by Poppy's was excellent. She visited prior to the funeral to find out about Mum’s life and guided us on the programme for the day. Afterwards friends and family commented on what lovely service it had been.

Although it was difficult at such a sad time we knew that Mum and Dad had lived a full and happy life. They would not have wanted us to forget the fun we had and this is what we tried to honour at their funerals. Dad arrived slightly late in the white van he wanted and we played a song he used to sing all the time to our children when they were young. The family joined in to sing and sway to the music.

With Mum’s funeral the care and respect when the coffin arrived, the guiding hand from the Poppy’s staff and the Pushbike Song in honour of her and dad’s youth spent cycling the country on a tandem left everyone with a smile.

We felt it was important to honour their wishes in the type of funeral they had said they wanted and we were lucky that they had spoken so openly about it. We wanted the funerals to be a final goodbye that we could look back on without sadness.

I think Mum and Dad would have been pleased. Dad would have forgiven us for just attending the crematorium and Mum would have loved her flowers. Both would have laughed at the choice of music.

For us it was important to be honest to the people they were! Don’t get so overwhelmed in the grief and feel that you have to make the funeral a solemn affair if that was not the personality of your loved ones. Send them off with love and give yourself something to look back on and smile.

Barbara and Douglas' Choices

  • We chose cremation
  • We chose the white van our dad wanted
  • Our immediate family went to the crematorium
  • We sang along to a favourite song
  • We chose a secular celebrant to honour our mum
  • We played the Pushbike Song
  • We chose flowers our mum would have loved
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