What do you say when your brother’s gone too soon? He never made it to his autumn years, but boy did he make the most of those he had. I scribble down some thoughts and think about the good times, hanging out at HMV, flicking through the singles with our paper-round money burning a hole in our pockets. On the top deck of the bus to football, singing our hearts out when we won and silently trudging home when we lost.
Then all the years we went dancing at Buster Browns and Cinderella’s, Michael’s chat up lines were awful but he could dance and that seemed to impress the girls. Spandau Ballet, Madness and Duran Duran – he had the hair and Miami Vice jackets to match! Well, it must have worked on Julie, she married him! What was their first dance again? Something soppy no doubt, an 80’s ballad if I recall, probably Lionel Ritchie, ‘Endless Love’ was everyone’s wedding song in those days.
Michael was great at the pub quiz; he knew all sorts of random facts and the music round was his favourite. He loved all kinds of music, from punk to jazz, so it’s going to be hard picking songs for his funeral. The whole thing has been a bit of guesswork to be honest.
He never talked about funerals, even near the end. I mean we were too busy living to be thinking about death. Julie’s not sure either so we’re kind of planning it together and hoping that it feels right for Michael, and for us as a family.
We want Michael’s send-off to be a Celebration of Life, not a sombre ceremony. It will be a humanist service and that’s about as far as we’ve got so far. There’s lots of decisions to make and it’s a sore one as I still can’t believe he’s gone. It’s making me realise that maybe I should think about the inevitable and speak to my wife and kids, so they don’t need to worry about this for me.
When it’s my turn I definitely want one of those colourful coffins, decked out in my football team colours. I just hope Michael is happy with the songs we’ve picked – the tracks of his years – as that’s the thing he’d have cared about the most. Uplifting songs that tell the story of a happy life.
Did you know that in 2021 The Cost of Dying Survey found that of 1,500 people who had arranged a funeral in the past 12-month period, only 1% knew their loved ones’ wishes? 42% did not know their loved one’s preference for burial or cremation and 47% had to borrow money to cover funeral costs. One in eight families surveyed said that finding money to pay for the funeral caused them notable financial problems.
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