Richard's Story

Richard's Story | Poppy's Funerals

My husband Richard was being treated in the Ruth Myles haematology day unit at St George’s Hospital for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. We had not yet discussed his possible imminent death or funeral arrangements and I knew this was something we needed to do. While Richard was receiving treatment, I arranged a meeting at Poppy’s where I met some of the team and immediately felt welcomed and comfortable. Poppy had offered to come to talk to Richard at the hospital but in the end he was too ill for that to be possible.

“I arranged a meeting at Poppy’s where I met some of the team and immediately felt welcomed and comfortable."

My next meeting at Poppy’s was after Richard had died, where I met Aaron and then Victoria who was going to coordinate everything for me and who I was able to contact with any questions that arose. She helped me to find exactly the right coffin for Richard. He loved bamboo and it was also the lightest one which meant that it would not be too heavy for the family to carry. I borrowed a magical idea from another family writing on Poppy’s website, and his coffin became a work of art, perfect for friends and family to tuck their personal floral tributes into at the end of the funeral when they said they own farewells.

Here I want to mention how well Victoria helped me to manage that part of the funeral as the coffin remained in the church until the congregation had gone into the hall next door where I was able to greet everyone and provide them with Richard’s favourite funeral foods (dictated to me in hospital) all made by wonderful friends. Meanwhile Poppy’s team gently took Richard to the crematorium and waited until just the family joined them for the final short service there. It was wonderful knowing that they were there the whole day of the funeral making sure everything went smoothly.

Many friends commented how joyful the day seemed with the cheerful van carrying Richard covered in painted poppies. I felt that made Richard happy and that we managed to fit in everything he would have wanted. The service reflected his Jewish and Buddhist beliefs. The Kaddish led by his brother, prayers for the dead chanted by Lama Zangmo and friends from Samye Dzong London, and his favourite hymns, readings and poems.

My advice would be to accept the help that is offered and indeed to ask for it. So many people want to do something and it is such a hard and surreal time it is good to accept the support. I had a lot of help from my church and in the priest’s openness in welcoming Richard’s multi-faith service. Above all know that you are not alone. Be very kind to yourself and continue to say yes to life. I found it best to embrace the grief and allow it.

I also wanted to mention how important it was to us as a family that Richard’s body was taken care of in such a dignified, beautiful and natural way. It was just how he would have wanted it. I felt very peaceful after the two times I saw him in his biblical shroud in that lovely quiet space. As with all our visits to Poppy’s there was no hurry and Aaron sensitively gave us all the time we needed.

Richard's Choices

  • We chose to cremate Richard.
  • Richard loved bamboo and so we chose a bamboo coffin.
  • The family carried coffin.
  • We chose the Poppy-mobile which is painted with flowers.
  • We had a church service and the family gathered at the crematorium later.
  • The service reflected Richard’s Jewish and Buddhist beliefs.
  • We chose a priest who was open to a multi-faith service.
  • We served food our friends had made.
  • We said goodbye by decorating Richard’s coffin with flowers.
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