I really don’t like funerals..

Yeah, I know – no one really likes funerals. However, they are a part of adult life (or death?), and as you get older will become more and more frequent. As they say, there are only two certainties in life, Death and Taxes.

I remember my first funeral – My Grandad died when I was around 9 or 10. In some ways, I’m thankful I went – in others, not so much. I remember vividly feeling so sad and broken by his death. We’re a very close family – and trips to both sets of Grandparents on a Sunday afternoon were a weekly occurrence. I remember the funeral well – I was just so SAD. The service was at the local crematorium. I didn’t really understand the whole process – I’d seen the scene in ‘Scrooged’ where Bill’s Murray character is cremated – the funeral ended and his coffin was launched into a furnace. That was how I thought it would go down. I remember the curtain closing around Grandad’s coffin and being REALLY scared I’d see a glimpse of it being hurled into fire.

Obviously, that wasn’t what happened.

Despite being quite mature for age, I don’t think I was ready for a funeral then. I think that experience really lodged hard in my mind, just the thought of attending a funeral evokes strong, visceral reactions to me.

Since then, I’ve lost more relatives, attended more funerals, and felt those same feelings deep inside each time. I’ve only had to go to funerals for members of my family. Last week though, I went to a funeral for a friend. My oldest friend, Chris, lost his Dad unexpectedly at the beginning of the year. His Dad was such an incredible human being, such a kind soul. He’d read pretty much everything I posted on here. There would always be a ‘Like’ for it on Facebook, or a comment telling me how much he enjoyed reading it. He was one of those people who cared deeply about everyone in his life – it wasn’t just a vague, superficial ‘caring’ – he genuinely cared and listened.

Honestly, I really did consider not going to his funeral – I felt that horrible feeling again. It overwhelmed me so much.

Thing is though, no matter how crap I felt – it really couldn’t compare to how Chris was. He was burying his Dad. I had to shelve those feelings and be there.

It was a perfect service, absolutely spot on, some of Steve’s favourite songs, some his closest and oldest friends regaling the standing-room-only crowd with stories of his life. I could feel those dreaded feelings inside, I cried, I struggled – but I got through it – when the curtain closed – I didn’t feel sick or dread. I was thankful for knowing Steve, and really, well, happy – I could share in this celebration of his life.

When the service ended I was able to chat to Chris. He seemed pretty good, considering the circumstances. Chris and I have always shared a bit of gallows humour in our dark moments, and this was no exception. He was dealing with everything a lot better than I imagine I would in the same situation. He was also sporting an interesting haircut – pretty much a shaved head, with a long pink and purple ponytail scraped from the front of the of his hairline to the back. He chuckled when I told him he looked like a ‘sad unicorn’. We chatted some more as the guests offered their condolences. Chris is one of those friends I don’t see all that often, but – despite everything in our lives changing – it’s still EXACTLY the same.

Chris has been there with me through so much, I was really happy that I could be there for him.

Wherever you are Stephen – the trees are for you.

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