Today, Tuesday 21st August, my darling dad, known to the family as Pa, was cremated and we were not there to see him off.
Pa (94) had advanced Alzheimer’s, died peacefully in his sleep on Sunday 12th in Guernsey. I really lost him over a year ago when he didn’t know who I was anymore.
He was not religious and didn’t believe in an after life “When you are dead, you are dead, you can put my body in the dustbin”. For me I always found that concept difficult but had to accept and respect we have different ways of looking at death. Before horrible Alzheimer’s claimed him, he said when he died he wanted a memorial service only.
Why were we not at his cremation?
No family or friends live in Guernsey and we all agreed rather than fly to Guernsey for a cremation service only to bring his ashes back to the UK, it would be more sensible to have a Direct Cremation and then repatriate his ashes for a Memorial service. Anyway my eldest daughter is on crutches with her leg in a boot from knee to ankle and my brother has broken his wrist and is in plaster which would have made it all the more difficult!
A Direct cremation
“A direct cremation, is for those who would prefer a simpler choice for their funeral. It’s different to a traditional funeral as there is no funeral service and no one present at the cremation. It’s for those, who for lots of reasons, prefer not to have a funeral service. This option of a simple, straightforward cremation is now being chosen by a growing number of people”.
I don’t regret that decision but this morning I sat and cried because my lovely Pa was going into a large incinerator without any family goodbyes. My Mum died last year and before her death I could never come to terms with burial versus cremation. Mum was adamant to be buried and surprisingly I found the idea of being buried easier to cope with. She now has a headstone and plants on her grave. Although her spirit left her body, I have somewhere to go to talk to her.
Getting the ashes back to England is not easy. The undertakers in Guernsey had originally said they would post them to a local funeral director. Although it would have been in a sealed container, we laughed at the vision of him arriving in a Jiffy bag. However Royal Mail, for insurance reasons, no longer accept human remains, so we have to arrange for a courier.
In his Will Pa requested, much to our surprise, that his ashes be scattered at sea. This is an interesting event to arrange. Whilst not exactly a scattering, there are water urns.
Biodegradable urns when placed in water will float briefly and then gracefully sink to the bottom, where they break down naturally over time. This prevents blow back.
A work colleague of mine scattered a relatives ashes on a lake and everything blew back in their faces, they couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry.
Did you know there are companies that hire out boats for the purpose of scattering ashes at sea? They will take a small party out, in our case this would be in The Solent (Pa grew up in Southampton, so that seems appropriate), it will moor so we can say our goodbyes with promise messages.
The notepaper which will completely dissolve in water, you write your wish, thoughts, or promises and then cast it into the water with the ashes.
Pa was always a ‘party man’ and lived the good life to the full, so he would totally endorse us hiring a company who also provided champagne and M&S sandwiches afterwards. Obviously, this will have to be done when family members have their various limbs out of plaster.
Rest in Peace my darling Pa, I will miss you so much.
As for me? Each life event has a stress level number. With Mum dying last year, retiring from work at the end of January, moving into a new area at the end of April, missing close friends and my garden and now Pa dying, my level is extremely high and I am really struggling. However, there is always light at the end of the tunnel and I will get there eventually. Writing this has helped.