Sunday, 22 May 2011

Picking ones own burial site

 Its not at all mordling you know and my pal Sue selected the events of her burial  with care and with great success I have to say.
It seemed a faultless occasion and must have been a huge help to her family and partner, to know that they were following her wishes and not doing anything she would have disliked.
We should probably all organise our own funerals to save those we love the anguish of doing it after we have gone, it seems fair somehow to me.
( I had best get my finger out and do it myself!)
It's like having made sure you have made a will you know?

Are family likely to know what music we'd have liked them to sit and listen to, what relevant words we might want said, that kind of thing.

Sue wanted a Peace Funeral, where she would be buried and in time able to regenerate the earth and become a part of the natural elements again. It must be some 2 years since she had chosen her spot and selected a silver birch tree to have grow above her.
It wasnt any cheaper than most funerals and it was many years since Ive been to a burial but you know, it was somehow far better than the cremations Ive been to.
It gave a closure of a different kind.
It seemed to be a contact with long past peoples, the way that our ancestors would have done it, laying kith and kin within the grounds arms, so they could become one with the earth again.
And to have birdsong and not other music at the graveside you know?
Just lovely.
Yes I know, there are so many of us we cant all be buried of course.
But to know you will be entwined amongst the roots of a tree, the same kind that you have always loved to sit beneath, and listen to the breeze rippling through its leaves above your head, in life.........what solace that must have given her.

The gathering was in a thirteenth century manorial barn at Whiston, near Sheffield, after which we to drove afew miles out into the countryside, to the woodland site itself.

" The Mediaeval Manorial Barn on Chaff Lane has been restored and is used as a village hall and is available for hire. It dates in part back to the Thirteenth Century and was use by the Lord of the Manor to store the grain collected from his serfs and peasants by way of tax. The barn ceased to be used and fell into disrepair before it was bought by Whiston Parish council in 1985. It was extensively restored and is a Grade 2* listed building. "

Inside were 3 large stitched panels, I think they may have been done by  WI members, I've an idea I have seen them exhibited at Harrogate at a show, but if you know different, do put me right!
Halfway up on the left of the first picture is a stitched version of the inside of the barn itself.
I sat looking over Sues' wicker coffin at that very end of the building, the enormous aged old beams that hold up the thatched roof above us.
We all soaked up the peacefulness and listened to Vaughn Williams music, The Lark Ascending.........again, Sues choice of music.

A lady spoke words from Sue herself and memories were shared amongst us, if not spoken, then certainly in our thoughts.

The collection was to be for her favourite charity, one we regularly donated to, when we were fund raising for own cat rescue group.
The Doctor Hadwin Trust for Humane Research

Sue is now laid in a small forest to be, in South Yorkshire ( and it was just delightfully peaceful with bird song in the background as the guys carried her wicker coffin through knee high wild flowers and grasses, winding past copper beech, rowan trees, oaks and elders........though I did see a monkey puzzle tree.............not sure what that was about!
(Perhaps a wife or hubby with a sense of humour!)

On the way out after leaving Sue in her place of rest I did notice a lady tending to a plot around a tree. I felt she had kind of missed the point of having a loved one buried in a natural woodland environment......
Because she had planted tulips and daffodils beneath the tree, and they stood about 18" tall, packed together in a 4' x4' block like sardines, forming a protective barrier against 'nature' lol 
It looked like a manicured little enclave of urban garden amongst the wild growth wafting lightly in the breez all around it...
Sue would have had something to say about that lol

And I learned that just before she had passed away, they had heard a  dogs bark at the door of her room in the hospice....where there had been no dog.
So we hope it was her beloved dog Eddie who died a year or so before her, coming for her... we have to hope dont we?


  1. What a wonderful funeral, and a wicker coffin, I must look into that here in Oz, we can get cardboard ones,but I do like the idea of wicker. I talk to my kids about how I want my funeral to be, my son doesn't want to know, but I have a new d-i-l now, and she's listening, bless her. I'm slowly stitching a shroud, winding cloth whatever you want to call it, to be wrapped in, it'll be a bit patchy looking,something like Jude's cloths, with pieces I've worked on stitched down and lots of stitches. I really support the idea of planning our own exit, and your friend's woodland burial sounds perfect.

  2. it all sounds so perfectly Sue....she planned well mixing past (the Barn) the present (the burial) and the future (the matured wood.

  3. Lyn, what a beautiful writing you have done here...I've never attended any funeral/memorial that even gets close to being this meaningful.

    I hope it was Eddie, too.

  4. Spot on Jean your quite right.

    Nanette how wonderful to be stitching your own winding cloth! And much more likely to be part of your character than any commercial glitzy shroud offered in a standard funeral package over here at least.
    What a great way for us to use up our unfinished pieces even!
    Jean take note..........your Mark could gather up all your UFOs and wrap you in those!

  5. A while ago I helped a friend choose where she will be buried at our local was sad, funny, emotional and very pragmatic, it sounds like your friend Sue had all the right ideas too. I love the idea of a wicker coffin, they look very beautiful too, but I don't know if they are allowed here.

  6. Our friend Grace left us instructions for her funeral and you're right, it did help to know we were doing what she wanted. I keep meaning to think about mine and get it written down. I love The Lark Ascending too but have a lot of favourite pieces. I do like the idea of a woodland burial too, it is the perfect natural setting especially with the birds singing.

  7. Peggy I dont think I had attended one before and really thought about it properly.
    Cremations have a different atmosphere altogether and the burials I went to years ago, I was too young to have understood them I think back then.

    Sue McB like you, because I had discussed with my pal Sue, what she was choosing, I had a privaledged understanding I think, that it can mean something valuable to the person who is going to die, to know that her 'guests' experience is meaningful to her too?
    That had never occured to me!
    That wicker casket was so much more aesthetically calming to look at too you know?

    Julie I think Grace did a wise thing and granted a kindness on you all by arranging things ahead of time.
    I intend to get myself organised now and once Ive paid for my daughters wedding dress (and am overwhelmed by her choices at the moment..just stunning!) Im sorting my funeral out next!
    Thankyou all for dropping by :)



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