Please could you tell me a bit about Aubrey?
Aubz and I have been married for 19 years this December. We have known each other since college. He is father to our 4 children. Sam, aged 26, Jake, aged 24, Abi, aged 17 and Xander, aged 6. He is (‘was’, such a hard little word to write) such a kind person, seeing everything from everyone’s point of view, a peacemaker. Loved a debate though and very passionate about what he believed in. Such a wonderful father and husband.
It seems so ridiculous that we have lost him so soon, he had so much more to give to those around him.
How did you find out about Hand in Hand?
I heard about Kerry from one of my best friends.
Why did you choose Hand in Hand?
From that apprehensive first phone call, one that I never thought I would have to make, Kerry put me at ease. I knew that I was talking to someone who really understood what I was looking for, even though I wasn’t yet sure myself. Kerry listened to me and really cared about the whole family.
What choices did you make to personalise Aubrey’s Ceremony?
It was so important to me that the day was to celebrate Aubz’ life. Our 6 year old son should be able to remember the day with some happy memories. We have never referred to the day as a ‘funeral’. It was ‘Daddy’s Celebration Day’.
I knew exactly what I didn’t want: no funeral procession, men in black hats, wreaths, the typical things associated with a funeral.
Kerry helped us to create a day filled with colour and love, and pizza!
We chose Deighton Lodge for Aubrey’s celebration day. Typically a venue for weddings. We chose to use the barn, a beautiful setting.
Aubz loved barn conversions and would have loved this one. Round tables with white table cloths and a small jar of gyps in the middle of each one. Guests could grab a drink from the bar and take a seat. Nothing formal, and guests were asked to wear colour.
We used the alcoves in the barn to set up a little lego and drawing area, and Xander brought all his superhero dressing up clothes. He kept appearing as different characters, and combinations of several characters at once, throughout the day.
Our celebrant, Louisa, from Starrgazing Ceremonies had listened to us tell her all about Aubrey, and put together a wonderful story using our favourite family songs to bind it all together. We had a couple of family members and friends who had written a speech, but then the floor was open to anyone who wished to say anything. No pressure, and the microphone was taken to them at their table.
It was so wonderful that people felt so comfortable with the setting and love in the room that they could take the microphone and say a few words.
The final song in our story was Disco 2000 by Pulp. I shall never forget that moment.
Firstly there was rhythmic clapping, then people started to stand up, and the majority of the room was dancing. My brother had Xander on his shoulders, with a smile beaming on his little face.
Wow, what a moment!
It was important that the day flowed. I hate the waiting around and moving from one place to another of a typical funeral. So to have the day all in one place worked so well.
Pizza was on the menu. We had a wonderful company, Knead and Feed, who cooked pizza solid for 2 hours and then cooked extra for us to have on the evening.
I booked the house out for the night, it didn’t seem right that the celebration would end and then we would all go home our separate ways.
Some family and friends stayed on for a bit of an after party, before we retreated to our bedrooms for some rest.
Throughout the day, Aubrey had been placed in his basket covered with beautiful flowers by Chrissie at ‘The Taylored Flower company’, in the Yoga room (Deighton Lodge run a Yoga retreat). It was so peaceful in that room.
It gave everyone the opportunity to spend time with him if they wished and, throughout the day and evening ,he had many visitors. It is where I spent most of my night too. Which is not something which I would have ever thought I would want to do, but it felt so right to me.
The next morning, a beautiful sunny May morning, everyone got up at their own pace with a choice whether they wished to be there to wave Aubz off.
We had decided that we would not attend the crematorium, and that felt the right decision for us.
After the special day in the special setting that Kerry had helped us to create, leaving and travelling to the crematorium was not how we wished to remember Aubrey/Daddy.
Please could you say a little about the support Kerry provided during the process?
I find it so difficult to put into words how I feel about Kerry’s support. She goes above and way, way beyond. She understood us and helped us find our way when everything was so upsidedown and insideout. She has given so much of her time and provided comfort and strength to us. Kerry helped us to create a day for Aubz and ourselves that we are so proud of.
What 3 words would you choose to describe your experience of Hand in Hand?
Understanding, supportive, beautiful x