I’ve been to many funerals; uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, friends, work colleagues. Some big and fancy, some small and discreet . They have all taken place at a crematorium, I’ve never been to a burial.

Thing is, although I am familiar with the procedure at such an event – I know where to go, and what happens next, and what happens when we file out at the end – when you organise one of your own, it takes on a completely different context.

Recently my mother died after a stay in hospital. She had been poorly for some time and, when it became apparent she was ‘more than just poorly’ we summoned help. Once she had been admitted, the doctor gave us a prognosis. It was not good, but as Spiritualists we understood what to expect. With various ups and downs she got through the next few weeks. We had looked at nursing homes, because it looked like she would be able to have her last weeks of care outside of the hospital environment.

Unfortunately it was not to be. She took a turn for the worse, and within a few days had passed to Spirit. In a sealed envelope with the solicitor, she had left instructions for a Spiritualist funeral. And so it was. All the other arrangements were made, the last was to talk to our SNU (Spiritualists’ National Union) officiant and put together a service.

It’s not until you start to talk through the history, likes, dislikes and persona of the person who died, that you realise what an important phase in their life you are going through. Mother, for instance, had a reputation for being insular, independent and cantankerous in her later years (or even not-so late years), and until you start to re-live their story you don’t realise why this may have been.

Of course the other aspect of arranging a funeral, is the ceremony itself. What music should we play? What about prayers and hymns? What would they like? Unless you know them, this is guesswork. Luckily we at least know what mother wouldn’t like. So we have asked for something a bit different.a hurries

So, tomorrow I will attend another funeral. This time it is one that I have organised, it is I who have chosen the music, and the order of service, and all the other bits. I am responsible for the history that the officiant will re-tell. But will mother approve? Will she be smiling in satisfaction, or frowning because I included or left out something of relevance? Only if she comes through with a message from beyond the veil will I find out.  At the end of the day, the job will be done and formalities will be complete, and mother is in a better place. Friends and family may or may not approve, but that is for them to deal with. I have done what I think mother would have liked, therefore I am happy.

Life – it’s a funny old thing. What do you think?