Wednesday, 1 February 2023

After The Funeral

Hello, dear reader!

Today’s offering is going to be a little different.

Usually, I churn out my blog post on the morning, or early afternoon, of the posting day (Every-ish Wednesday at 18:30 U.K. time). Today I’m splitting the writing in two, because there’s a rather important event I’m scheduled to attend mid-afternoon that I plan to write about.

I’m going to a funeral.

The Selfish Emotion
The funeral in question is that of Helen Chappell, a lady who I first met in nursery school, so very, very many years ago.

It’s fair to say that as the years progressed our lives bifurcated and developed along different paths as lives tend to. It’s also true that I haven’t been as close with Helen as I possibly could have, partially due to the above, and partially due to my natural flair for completely ignoring people I should be in regular contact with.

But still, Helen will be a big loss.

There’s part of me that feels like part of my childhood has been chipped away, which I know is wrong, and makes it ‘all about me’ (but then grief is, at heart, a selfish emotion), but it’s true. It makes the marking of the occasion, the celebration of a life, and the chance to say goodbye, all that more important.

So, what I intend to do, is to leave off writing in a little while and pick up again after the funeral, when I can comment more fully on how things went while it’s all fresh in my mind. I hope you’ll indulge me in this, and excuse the somewhat bifurcated result.


Home Service

…And back.

I’ve just left the service, or at least the live-stream of the service. I was planning on going in person, but a combination of finances, MS, and an untimely illness meant I took advantage of attending at home, but nevertheless, I don’t think anything was taken from the experience.

The service was lovely. A fitting farewell to a lovely lady. Everything from the fact her small coffin (Helen had Brittle Bone Disease, which affects growth) was donned in the colours of her Powerchair Football team, complete with the number of her shirt, through to the choice of music was spot on, and when her dad gave her eulogy, I must confess, I was fighting back the tears.

It’s not the natural order of things for a parent to bury their child, and I can only guess at the emotions Helen’s mum and dad must have been feeling. Her dad spoke of his daughter’s lust for life, spirit, grace, and the immense effect on the lives of all those she touched through her too-short life with such love and dignity, and. Dare I say, even some humour, that it was hard not to feel every word. It was obvious the pride he had in his daughter’s accomplishments, and the way she dealt with the difficulties life threw at her.

I think what struck me most about the service, however, was the amount of people there. It was clear to see just how special Helen was to so many people. Add in those who, for whatever reason, felt unable to attend in person and it truly was staggering to see how many lives were touched by this remarkable lady.

Memories & Me
As I mentioned, Helen and I went to school together, and her dad mentioned John Jamieson Special School, where we both went until mainstreaming called and we were transported to ‘normal’ school. It brought back a lot of memories for me, including, as I somewhat shamefacedly informed my wife, Tina, of the time I (accidently) broke her arm.

As for me, well, I’m so glad I took the time to mark Helen’s life and say my own silent farewell. It’s left me feeling just a little sad, and I think that will probably last for some time. As I said before, Helen was an integral part of my formative years, and her passing feels like part of those years has been stripped away, almost like some of those playful, innocent days spent mucking about in the playground outside Mrs England’s classroom have been muted, that innocence blighted.

I can’t help regretting that Helen and I weren’t closer in our adult years, but then, that’s something I do. I lose track of people. Not through malice, not even through lack of caring, but through an absent-mindedness possibly informed by my insular, introverted nature. I think sometimes I become so content with my own space and my own counsel, I simply forget to reach out, and that is to my detriment, because you never know how long people will be there for.

I know I’ve made it all about me again, but as I mentioned, grief is a selfish emotion. It does nothing for the person lost, and everything for the one grieving. As selfish as it may be, however, it is necessary, and if it leads to reflection and change, perhaps some good can come from the sadness.

R.I.P Helen Chappell

Until next time.


Hey, folks! If you would care to take a look at some of my more creative writing, then the links below will transport you to the magical worlds of a few anthologies my short (and in two cases, very short) stories have been included in. Feel free to check ’em out!

New Tales Of Old: Volume 2

Death Ship



The Musketeers Vs Cthulhu

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