We CountryWives have never had a problem tackling tricky subjects – whether it be our husbands’ disgusting nocturnal habits, the risqué exploits of our youth, loneliness at the school gates, sex (usually lack of), or troubling marital issues. You only have to look at the pictures on Annabel’s last blog or the lovely Ellie’s comments on the Paralympics, to see there is nothing much we shy away from talking about.
But discussing death hasn’t really featured since we started CountryWives well over two years ago. Perhaps because the only certainties in life are paying taxes and dying – and let’s face it, neither of those issues are particularly uplifting. But with the sad passing of my father-in-law last week, death was a subject our family had to confront head on and it has been a rather steep learning curve.
However, what has really got my huff chuffing is the mountain of bureaucracy surrounding what is a very difficult time. My beleaguered mother in law has had reams of forms to fill in, been forced to search in dusty files for yellowing certificates, make endless phone calls and visits to banks, solicitors, insurance companies, building societies and goodness knows who else, all of whom want inordinate amounts of paperwork from her – and all this immediately after the devastation of losing her soulmate of 37 years.
On top of all this is the expense, at a time when you feel no expense should be spared to give a loved one a dignified send off. Funeral directors costs, flowers, printing an order of service, phone calls to friends and family, hiring a venue and providing refreshments, buying an outfit to wear in church…it all mounts up alarmingly.
I am going to name and shame the Daily Telegraph now…how much do you think it costs for a few lines in their obituary column? £50? We did. It was almost seven times that. Those Barclays brothers should be ashamed of themselves for ripping people off when they are at their most vunerable.
Unlike the admirable Ralph Potter, a skilled player of the pipes whose evocative laments drifted inside the church and down the village lane during the service and who would take no fee for himself, just a donation to London Scottish Rugby Football Club. Thanks Ralph. You are one of those special people who give us faith in human nature.
And after almost three weeks of hospitals, losing a loved one, getting strangled by red tape and organising a funeral, we are finally getting back to some sort of normality. Back to everyday activities – cooking, cleaning and reactivating our social lives. Well we are.
My mother in law is embarking on an entirely new journey, without her beloved husband, but with us to support her when she needs us. So nothing will ever really be the same. A beloved husband, father, grandfather and father in law has gone and we will miss his wit, knowledge and guidance. But, the clock keeps ticking and life does indeed go on – except now we all appreciate just how damned precious life is.
Yours, Grace x