Once you have a child, you suddenly become aware of your own mortality… or at least, I did any way. Once the dust has settled from giving birth and night feeds and all that nonsense, a little voice appears in your head asking really difficult questions about what will happen to your little bundle if you kick the bucket in the middle of the night.
I know my dad had this little voice; he lived a very frugal life, professing to always be skint – but if I needed £100 for a school trip to Russia, it appeared the very next weekend. He never bought himself new clothes, and his idea of an indulgent holiday was two weeks in Benidorm – self catering of course. When he died at the age of 58, we were shocked to discover that he had been saving a portion of his not massive wages every month since his first child was born. So great, we didn’t have to worry about paying for a funeral – something I had a bit of a panic about when he first died.
One thing my dad hadn’t planned for though, was his funeral – probably because he thought he had a few more years yet before it became relevant. My sister was listed as his next of kin, and she took charge of the arrangements – and so, the funeral my dad had was the one my sister wanted – definitly not the one he would have wanted. If I hadn’t been so consumed with grief I might have punched her in the face for it, to be honest.
This is something I’ve been thinking about a fair bit lately. I’d like to think I have a fair few years left in me yet – but none of us really knows, do we. And I can’t stand the thought of a boring, traditional funeral at the crematorium with All Things Bright and Beautiful followed by Amazing Grace or some other song to which nobody really knows the words or tune after the opening four bars.
I’ll be interested then, to attend a Twitter chat tomorrow lunch time, hosted by Slummy Single Mummy about funeral planning. I love the idea that you can plan something like this in advance – and pay for it – so that when you die your loved ones don’t have to worry about any of it. It’s kind of like organising a party for them all to attend, instead of what usually happens when someone dies – some random overbearing relative takes charge, and you end up attending their version of a funeral rather than what the dead person would have wanted.
I think it’s easy to just put this sort of thing to the back of your mind and pretend it doesn’t apply – but in reality, it applies to all of us, doesn’t it. As the saying goes, there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. Funeral planning is one of those things nobody thinks or talks about – but it shouldn’t be. We should all think about this sort of thing because you never know what’s coming round the corner – it might just be that proverbial bus. Are you wearing matching underwear, just in case?
Come and join in the Twitter party from 1pm tomorrow using the hashtag #askCoop
This project is being run in collaboration with The Co-operative.