The recent death of family members has prompted Reese to think about their own mortality.

6 minute read

<aside> <img src="" alt="" width="40px" /> Reese's nana, mum and uncle die in the same year


That rollercoaster look

I've been a carer for the last few years since my Nana had dementia and my Mum got cancer. I worked the whole time through it, so it was all just incredibly draining.

You can tell the loved one of someone with an illness a mile off when you've been there yourself, you can just see it in their eyes. They all have that kind of like I'm gritting my teeth, my jaw's set on edge; that rollercoaster look.

And that's how I felt - I felt like my eyes were popping out of my head all the time, you know. But we're human, we are resilient, life will throw some horrible things at us and we have to cope somehow.

I'm so thankful to Macmillan. Thinking back they were really there for me and Mum through some of the most difficult times. But then last year they both died; Mum and Nana, within a few months of each other. It was still a shock, even though I was expecting it. And then my uncle died as well.

I hadn't been expecting that.

<aside> <img src="" alt="" width="40px" /> The emotional and practical demands of caring for someone with a serious illness are all-consuming and leave little time for reflection in the moment.


I regret I didn't ask

So I ended up responsible for arranging three funerals pretty close together. I'd never arranged a funeral before, never even been to one really. I had this image of a funeral director as a guy with a big top hat, it's kind of morbid and dark.

My Nana's funeral was first and that's exactly what it was like: very municipal, not very personal, really depressing - march in and out. That sort of thing. But my Nana had a real sense of fun and used to like singing and going out dancing when she was young.

Her funeral was nothing like that, and I really wish I'd done more to get it right for her. I regret I didn't ask the celebrant 'can you just be really upbeat when you're delivering the service?' because he wasn't you know, he was very formal. He even got my Nana's name wrong.

I made different decisions for my Mum's funeral. The choice of music was like cabaret. So when people were walking in everyone was smiling and chuckling to themselves. And then for my Uncle's funeral I tried to make it really reflect him, to make it less sombre and sad. He used to wear a porkpie hat, so we had them on the coffin as it was going in. And everyone laughed, you could hear this ripple of laughter

I wanted the people who came to be comfortable so I told them not to worry about dressing formally. It’s expensive for people to travel down and things as well, don’t go out and buy a suit, just wear a tracksuit if you want to, you know, just wear something comfortable.