My knowledge of funeral homes / directors was based on brief clips from Six Feet Under and The Loved One. The latter is more about pets but if you’ve read the book you’ll know that they can be flexible.
The first place we visited was opposite the hospital (bit of canny placement there) and seemed like a good starting point.
Once we got in though it became clear that their close proximity to the hospital and easy footfall had made them lazy and complacent. It was as far removed from the softly spoken ‘sorry for your loss’ and downcast eyes as could be imagined. We were left to our devices for a but whilst we tried to find anything suitable for tiny bodies. We noted Rolls-Royce caskets and slightly vampiric overtones but nothing really suitable. After awkwardly shuffling around for a bit we were finally attended to with a blank indifference. Options were kind of detailed but not in any real detail and we were left no wiser as to the process, handling or what we would want.
We mumbled apologies and non-specific noises about getting back to them later and received a shrug in response.
Our next stop on our grim shopping trip was all the more impressive after such a dispiriting encounter and everything we could have wanted (short of resurrection or time travel). It was a small and perfectly formed softly lit shop where we were taken care of as soon as we walked in.
We explained the situation and made the director cry. It was a weird situation to have to comfort the person organising the funeral but it helped confirm in our minds that these were the right people to handle the funeral.
After going through the options and taking special care to reflect that are boys were twins but still individuals in their own right, she started to get out the paperwork to fill in and sign.
I was shocked and said that we appreciated her help but we hadn’t even discussed quotes or whether we would go with them. She looked equally shocked. “Oh, there’s no charge”. She explained that the service would be free, the only cost would be for the baskets (not coffins) and the urn (single box with a double container inside so that the boys would be be in their own space but together).
This was a real surprise. Even when we had the uncomfortable discussion at the hospital about mass graves there was no mention that a funeral service could be free.
It hadn’t occurred to us to look at the price list for the local crematorium (available online!). Once we had booked the service they sent us the information leaflet but up until that point we had no idea of the cost or not cost of it all. There was a bitter irony to the fact we were able to pay using the refund on our double buggy.
The respect shown to us made all the difference and meant when they did get things wrong (misspelt one of the names) we knew it would be taken care of and that we (and our boys) would be looked after on the day itself and afterwards.
We joke about things never quite going to plan and being realistic about the futility of wanting everything as close to perfect as possible. This was the one time that it really mattered and had to be right and it was. We remember the comfort, respect and kindness long after the sermon has been forgotten.