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One of the things I was going to write about

I’ve been putting off writing about this, which has been lurking in the background for the past month. There is something about closure, even for people only peripherally involved in trauma or sadness it seems.

I mentioned a few posts ago that a folk-singer friend was missing.

Yesterday, I attended his funeral. He was 68, and his body was found in the Thames several weeks after he left his home. There is no doubt, I believe, that no-one else was involved and that this was not an accident.

We have sung for him as a group; our Sunday evening marathon Zoom-pub session was dedicated to his memory, not only our folk-group singers but others of his friends too, and his sister and niece listened in. Clearly emotional, but no actual tears until the very final number – hats off to the friend who agreed to sing it at all (The Parting Glass).

His sister led the funeral – there was no official or religious celebrant, as he rejected his original Roman Catholicism many years ago. Although it is sad to be at a funeral at all, it is also always interesting to find out more about a person. We learned more about his love for music and an impromptu performance on the West End stage.

I don’t think I’ve been to a funeral and not learned something new (apart perhaps from my best friend’s where I delivered the eulogy and therefore had garnered all the stories beforehand). Even my parents’ funerals yielded new revelations at the wakes – in one case something so startling about someone else in my family that I will have to live until my own death with the fact that I’m not supposed to know it. 

There were two pieces of music played over the speaker system at the crematorium which featured the deceased himself – firstly Amazing Grace sung with his professional singer daughter, and secondly his own rendition of Let It Be which jerked the tears out again. His daughter: “Dad would have bloody loved the idea of singing at his own funeral”. We all had to agree. 

And, perhaps turning the unfortunate COVID restrictions on numbers in the crematorium to an advantage, miniature bottles of Irish whiskey were handed out to each member of the in-person congregation as they filed out at the end.

It was interesting that, watching from my sofa on my laptop, with no-one else present, I cried far more than I would have done in the crematorium. I suppose this is a result of the lack of self-consciousness. I was brought up not to show much emotion, but somehow find I cry incredibly easily at some things and always struggle at a funeral. Of course, when you are very close to the deceased – your parents or child etc – then it is likely that you will cry, but being in unseemly floods of tears when you barely knew them is odd (isn’t it? I don’t really know). At home, you can just let rip – all the memories of others long gone, or of those you would dread to lose just wring those tears out.

Just before I sang on Sunday night in the memorial pub session, I heard from my brother that he is in hospital with a crashing headache caused by a bleed on the brain. I haven’t told him this, but that is what killed my best friend. 

So, I have spent large parts of the last two days weeping much more than usual. Possibly as a result, I have a headache myself now which is refusing to shift. It is not often that I have to take myself back to bed of a morning, but today was one such. A beautiful sunny day to be missing!

But one small positive – I switched on the TV when I got back into bed and had one of the breakfast programmes on. And this has confirmed that I am completely right never to watch them. So that’s something, I suppose. 


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