It was a huge shock to hear that he had passed away, that he was dead.
When I was allowed to sit with Uwe’s cooling body I felt that his essence was already gone – his so familiar body, his dear hands, his beautiful face, all this was there in front of me, but he wasn’t there anymore.
I didn’t really want to leave his body behind – but I accepted, gently squeezed his right hand, kissed him good bye on his forehead, and left him in the care of the hospital team.
I knew straight away that I wanted to bury Uwe’s body in a natural place, not in a grave yard, and since he wasn’t a church member, to find a way to say good bye and to wish him well which was ringing true not just with him, but also with me and other significant members of the family.
After all agreed that it would be best to bury Uwe’s body close to our home in Oxford, close to where we lived nearly half of our nearly 30 years together, where he had his work colleagues and his friends, where we had put roots into the soil after our nomadic years, I knew that the Westmill Woodland Burial Ground in the Vale of the White Horse was perfect.
At Westmill, I met Liz Rothschild who manages the site with a lovely team of great people, and when she heard I was looking for an individual and flexible funeral director, she recommended Lucy Jane who had just started her business, “The Individual Funeral Company”.
She was fab in so many ways; we connected immediately and it was her who recommended Claire Turnham’s “Only with Love” services to help me care for Uwe’s body, and to plan and support his burial.
What followed was the most beautiful, and most empowering series of events possible; starting with reclaiming Uwe’s body from the hospital mortuary in his wicker coffin (with a blue band – he loved that colour, beautifying the room where he would stay from Wednesday until Friday with aromatic oils and candles and much loved red roses and purple anemones, and finally spending all the time we needed to be with him and to make him comfortable.
It sounds maybe strange, but this was the feeling we shared – a palpable relieve of the body – the spirit – who knows… – when we lovingly cared for it; starting with a welcome blessing by Claire, and a shared intention of deep love, washing and anointing the feet, the hands, the whole body, always remembering consciously and with deep thanks what all these parts have done in his life time.
I said at his burial how I am at peace, how, I am so grateful for nearly thirty brilliant years with a brilliant man, because that is what he is I believe: a brilliant soul, who I met in the body of this man called Uwe.
Claire’s presence, her wonderful business model of giving from the heart truly inspired me, and empowered me to decide to not use the funeral director’s offer to drive Uwe’s body to the grave, but to do that myself – Lucy was absolutely supportive about that, even helping me to hire the car of the right size, and lending me her two half-broom sticks to make the coffin roll easy (Uwe’s body was tall and heavy…).
On the day, we drove off in pouring rain and by the time we all got there, it had stopped raining, and by the time we started our celebration at 2pm the sun was shining warmly on my chest.
Miracles do happen – we just have to be open to perceive them!
We also trusted the music – Uwe loved his Bang & Olufsen system – so we took his box connected to his i-phone with us in a basket to the grave and put it on random shuffle play, after starting with James Taylor’s “Here we are…” – walking hand in hand, which came to us in the same method the evening before when Claire supported us in structuring the next day.
I also trusted the right words would come to me – Claire was instrumental in welcoming the burial party, and holding the space, including her committal “May you always know how much you are loved…”
To come full circle, I just want to share how touching it was three weeks later to be invited to help Angela on the day of her husband’s funeral.
Claire was also her home funeral guide, arranger and celebrant . She asked me if I could drive Angela’s husband’s body in his coffin from their house to the Church and finally to the crematorium, only a few miles apart from each other in North London.
I was delighted that I could be of help and I suggested that if Angela wants to return the gift, she may donate something to MIND, the mental health charity, because I wanted to give something back and this was a good way for me to trust the process.
I was very happy with my choice, and know Angela appreciated it too – it is good to feel this connectedness translating into actions and decisions – and it is even better to enjoy the warm glow which comes from meaningful interactions, meaningful work and the feeling that one has met – or even made – new friends.
In my experience, it is all down to Claire’s motto: Only with love… I think I’ve done the best I could by caring for Uwe in the way I did– so what is death but a transformation we all will go through for sure. May it be a while for you and me on this earth. Until then – I love my life – it is a wonder and the greatest of all gifts.
Thank you, Marina Rose
To read more, see photographs and watch film of Uwe’s burial please visit http://uwe.schnberger.muchloved.com/
To contact Marina Rose please email Claire Turnham – firstname.lastname@example.org
Liz Rothschild – Westmill Burial Ground – email@example.com
Lucy Jane – Individual Funeral Company – firstname.lastname@example.org