Recently there have been two deaths in the family. Both probably within a day of each other.
The first one was hardly unexpected. Father of my sister-in-law. Has been suffering with terminal cancer and wasn’t a case of ‘if’ he died but ‘when’. He was almost 90 – he’d had a good innings and he was largely out of it at the end. I hope I don;t sound flippant with my summary – I don’t mean to be. He will be missed by his large Irish family I am sure. He leaves behind a wife, in her late 80s who was utterly reliant on her husband and was very bitter with his prognosis and how unfair it all was – putting her through another family death.
The second family death was more of a shock but again, not 100% shocking. Hubby’s cousin. Just six weeks younger than him. Had been battling with alcoholism for many many years. Had ‘been sent to’ rehab many times by family but had never succeeded with the disease. Large family was taking a tough love approach as recommended by counsellors. Didn’t end well as cousin felt very very alienated from family and even more of a failure compared to siblings’ many successes. Cousin was not reached by a friend and so alerted the Police who broke into the flat and found the body.
Hubby was close to this cousin growing up and they spent many summers together. He was in Ireland just last year and they visited and he called on birthdays etc. He is devastated as you may expect and keeps saying ‘such a waste.’ I get it. I do. and I know the cousin’s sister quite well and know she will be taking it hard.
There was talk of Hubby going over for the funeral/wake and I encouraged him to do so seeing as we are actually not that far away, but he was reluctant to do so. We were talking about the timings etc and he was saying how his dad would fly to Belfast and be there for the wake and all.
The idea of this freaks me out I have to say. Big time. Hubby has been skyping his parents more than normal and they are talking about the practical matters here – the timings, the autopsy, the funeral, masses where needed and I suddenly feel very very alien. It is like he is speaking a foreign language with it all. I brought it up in a roundabout way (moi?) how I think there is something strange about viewing a dead body, respects or not… and he questioned me about when my nana had died – and I tried to explain my last memory of her alive was some comfort – more so, I imagine, than seeing her ‘on view’ in a casket. I was almost trying to tell him, that I don’t ever want to have to go to a wake. Ever.
There has also been the issue of the old man’s funeral. He grew up in Ireland but is to be buried in England near his daughter who died many years ago. So not with his ancestors, but where his family is now. So the ones left can visit his grave. Makes sense to me. Again this was discussed in a roundabout way re Hubby’s parents – both in their 70s and both from Ireland. Hubby assumes they will WANT to be buried back in Ireland but I mentioned that then his brother would probably never ever go to their graves, where as a plot in England would be much more comfort to HIM – and is, after all where they have lived for all of their adult lives. It was almost a ‘buried for those past or for those left?’ when it came to location, locaton, location.
Hubby mentioned ashes being scattered in both places.
Then we both recalled a friend’s mum who took ‘Uncle David’s ashes’ with her on every coach trip for many years – thinking where he would still like to go and SEE. I think they actually scattered a handful near the new Wembley Stadium when no one was looking as they felt he ‘would have liked it there.’
But no wake thank you.