Grief and Death: The Final RIP-off

As some readers may remember, my much-loved Grandad, Grandad Lush, passed away earlier this year. On the 26th September, it will be six months since he died, and to have spent half a year without him already, having had him in my life for 38 years, is still unfathomable to me.

Grief is such a strange and personal thing. Such a hollow of mixed emotions and desolate loss, yet it is also a place from which to appreciate the astounding truth that we are all actually here, and that so many have been before us, and so many are yet to come.

Often, once the funeral is over and the flowers have died, we forget that, for the loved ones, the grieving is only just beginning. The smallest of things will remind you of the person who has died, and the minutiae of the day can sometimes bowl us over in its ability to throw our grief back into our re-adjusting faces.

Other people often find it hard to know what to say, and others find it very hard to know how to act. But really, if you’re faced with a grieving friend, then just be human. Be kind, be patient, and be gentle.

After my father died when I was 12, my grandad became, to all intents and purposes, my second father. Subsequently, I have also had to deal with all of the admin of death, and those practicalities are both huge and daunting, but also a strange reminder that life goes on.

The sheer cost of dying is astounding, but seeing as my grandad once told me that he didn’t much care if he was tucked in a bin bag, I was able to feel no guilt at not going over-board on the funeral arrangements. But even a basic death is, in essence, the final RIP-off.

For example, I am now the owner of the grave plot that contains my dad, my grandma, and now Grandad Lush. This was transferred to my name, for which I had to pay the not too pricey, but still cheeky, sum of £30. I also paid to have the headstone taken up before burial, and to have said stone in storage. Today, I received a letter saying that once the headstone is engraved and replaced, the council will charge me £102 simply because the stone has had a bit of extra engraving placed upon it. This seems utterly incomprehensible, and doesn’t include the other £900 for the actual engraving and re-sprucing of the stone. I even coughed up a non-voluntary gratuity for the gravedigger.

But hey, just as Sinatra sang at Grandad’s funeral, that’s life. Or rather, death.

First published in The Portsmouth News, Tuesday 29th September 2015

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