My mother’s funeral took place yesterday.

In the past I have often – though not always – experienced funerals as rather distressing and depressing ordeals, which I was reluctant to attend. My mother had never discussed her wishes regarding her own funeral, but after she died I felt somewhat to my surprise that holding one in the Anglican tradition would be the right thing to do. This was confirmed when while going through her papers I found a list, written some years ago, of the hymns and readings she would want. Although she was not a church-goer, her choices included John’s Gospel Chapter 14 verses 1-6 and 27, Psalm 121, and God be in my Head, perhaps reflecting her religious upbringing.

I was also surprised to find that planning the ceremony was a positive experience. The minister provided an excellent service, as did the funeral director and the organist who were both already personal friends. I was nervous beforehand but all went well, and I managed to remain composed while reading out some of the tributes that had been emailed from my mother’s relatives and friends who live back in the UK. Obviously none of them were able to travel to New Zealand for the event, but many sent cards and flowers, and a good number of our local friends were present to provide their support.

I now understand that funerals can provide a valuable sense of “closure” to the bereaved. After yesterday was over I felt more relaxed, and more ready to move forward to the next stage of life, which will be very different without my mother living next door.

Clare's coffin