Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A neighbour's death, and a very long wait for the funeral

Sorry for the gap in posting; and this isn't a very cheerful subject with which to resume. Life has been busy and, at times, distressing, since my last post. A neighbour who lived alone discovered that she had inoperable cancer. There was a general rallying round, most particularly by a couple nearby who were her special friends; they were absolute stars. But others helped as and when they could: in my case, accompanying her to her palliative radiotherapy sessions; ultimately, as both she and all of us knew, to no purpose.

She was inspiringly stoical, keeping on with her daily routine, and with her acts of kindness to her neighbours, in a most determined spirit. The course of her illness was one of apparently level phases, interrupted by sudden downward steps. Within a few days of the last of these, she died peacefully in hospital.

For some time after her death, both my husband and I experienced a sense of frayed and exhausted nerves; typical, in fact, of a bereavement. It was a reaction which other neighbours may also have felt after the sad suspense of witnessing her cheerful and dignified progress toward her death.

I think it was made worse - and how much more so for her family! - by the fact that the funeral did not take place until two and a half weeks after her death. I don't understand why there has to be such a long gap these days between a death and the funeral. Is this a fairly recent development? Both my parents' funerals took place within a week of their deaths, but that was over thirty years ago. Two and a half weeks seems a rather harrowing period for the loved ones.

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