My contact with Wendy and her family began when I received a phone call from a Macclesfield Funeral Director. He gave me Wendy’s details, and I rang her and arranged to go and visit her.
When I arrived Wendy had her sister, Julie, with her and her son, Joe, came and joined us later on.
I was struck by the number of cards and bouquets of flowers in Wendy’s living room. It seemed to me that Wendy had the support of a lot of friends and family. Wendy told me all about what had happened to Barry in the last few days of his life.
Wendy and Julie talked to me about their family and what a huge part Barry had played in it. They talked to me about his way of winding people up with long stories, and Wendy showed me a card from the Chair of the Model Aeroplane Club, about Barry and his stories, and how popular he was. This introduced Barry’s weekend activity, flying model planes with his son, Joe.
Wendy told me about how she and Barry had met, and talked to me about his life.
We discussed what Wendy wanted from the funeral. Julie wondered if a prayer would be appropriate, but Wendy knew that Barry would not have wanted anything religious. She decided to have a period of silence in which people could think about Barry, or say a private prayer if they wanted.
I suggested a reading which I thought would reflect both the shock of Barry’s death, and the importance of his life to his family and community. Wendy liked the sound of it. She and Joe had decided on Leona Lewis songs for the start and the end of the ceremony.
Just before I was about to leave Wendy was telling me about Joe’s College course, in Aerospace Engineering. It hit me that Barry had spent his weekends not only supporting his son with an activity which he enjoyed but had also launched him on his future career. I checked with Wendy that this image of Barry’s dedication to his son was accurate, and decided that this would be a central image for the tribute to Barry.
Back at home I wrote up the ceremony using all the information and details that Wendy and Julie and Joe had given me. I also spoke again to the Funeral Director who was concerned to direct the large numbers of people expected at the Funeral.
On the day, it took quite a long time to get everyone seated, and some people had to stand at the doorway. People cried and laughed and made their goodbyes to a man who had meant a lot to his community. At the end, Wendy came up to me and said that she was feeling proud, so proud of Barry.
I hope that Wendy’s story gives you an idea of how a Humanist funeral is created, in partnership, to make it just how you would want it to be.