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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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/

Contacts

To contact Marina Rose please email Claire Turnham – claire@onlywithlove.co.uk

 

Liz Rothschild – Westmill Burial Ground – info@woodlandburialwestmill.co.uk

Lucy Jane – Individual Funeral Company – info@theindividualfuneralcompany.co.uk