To start with we went to the crematorium and we waited outside – we couldn’t go in the waiting room as it was shut because of the pandemic. The priest got me a chair and I was waiting for the hearse to come. After a few minutes waiting the hearse came with Desmond’s coffin. I was surprised when I first saw it as it was so small. He had lost a lot of weight when he was ill. They asked me ‘do you want to go in first or the coffin?’ and I decided I wanted Desmond’s coffin to go first. It would have upset me if he had to come in after we had all gone into the chapel room. There were ten people there and the priest.
Our favourite song ‘Don’t cry to me Argentina’ was playing when the coffin went into the chapel. I was going to cry but when I heard our song I didn’t as it reminded me of him and, although I was still very sad inside, I didn’t cry. The song helped with that and I watched the coffin go in.
They called us in – the funeral director and we all went into the chapel room. The priest said nice things about him – where he was born, he was born in Liverpool, he had two brothers – James and William and he had a family – a mum and dad.
We went in the chapel in the crematorium we sat down. I had to turn my mobile off so it wouldn’t disturb me. The priest waited for me to do this and then the ceremony could start.
Angela from the Arts Project where he worked said a lovely tribute to him and talked about all he had done with them. Then the priest said a few more nice words and prayers and we all said ‘Our Father’ to him. The priest pressed a button and his coffin went through the curtain. That was sad and I was looking as he went away and it was hard. You see I wasn’t able to say goodbye to him at the hospital before he died because I couldn’t visit. When I last saw Desmond on the Friday night he upset because he didn’t want to leave me for the hospital and I gave him a kiss and a cuddle and told him not to cry and said ‘I will see you when you’re well and better’. He passed away on the Sat at 5.45. So we never had a proper goodbye. When I said good bye to him then I really thought he was going to get better and come home to me. I had no idea I wouldn’t see him again.
After he went through the curtain the priest said a few more words and said prayers. After that I made a lovely speech to him. Everyone liked my speech. People all said I had done very well and that my speech was very good. The speech came right from my head – just like I’m telling this to you. This is some of what I can remember that I said:
We went on holiday together we enjoyed our holidays and we danced in the entertainment together and had drinks together. He loved Church Gardens and he loved going there and he often talked about it when we were together at home. He liked making friends and he liked talking to people and he went to the Arts group and he loved doing his shows at the The Royal pavilion. He did a speech in one of the shows and one year he introduced the whole show. Desmond and I had a good and happy life together and we helped one another. When I wasn’t well he looked after me and when he wasn’t well I looked after him.
After the service we went outside and they showed me the flowers that I had got him and that other people had got him. I brought some of the bunches of flowers back but not all of them as it would have upset me. After the funeral we came back to our flat and me and my friends had a drink and said cheers to Des.
After the service before I left the church they played Titanic, another of our favourite songs. I cried when that came on and I sang it. If you feel sad about your husband or your wife play your favourite song together and sing. It’s still sad and it doesn’t make it better, but it makes you feel a little bit better.
If people are sad at the funeral and they see the hearse coming with their wife or husband in it – choose two or three of their favourite songs and play one as the coffin is going in and let the coffin go in before the people and then get inside and sit down and think of the good memories you had and the good times and good life you have and play the next song and the next of what they like together.
If your husband starts getting not well don’t leave it too late. Get him to the doctors and if the doctor says he has to go to hospital let him go and don’t leave it too late. Look after him really well when he comes home. Be careful if someone is losing weight like my Desmond did.
Once the funeral is all over and you have had a couple of weeks to get over it. Think of the good times you had together with your person and try to look back at the good memories. Photographs and films are good for this. Look back and if you have any holiday photos – look at these and it doesn’t make you feel better, it’s still very sad but it does make you feel a little bit better. I have Rudolf – a reindeer Desmond used to carry at Christmas. I think to myself ‘ah Des used to carry that’. So to other people, if they have anything like photos or toys or memories, try to hold them and talk to them, it really does help.
If you are on your own and feel sad – find your friends and talk to them. It’s important to have people who know you and understand what has happened.
I say to myself Desmond would like me to live on and carry on with my life. This is for other people too – the person you have lost would like you to live on and carry with life even though it’s hard sometimes.