I recently met up with Jane from Marlborough; a smart, funny and articulate woman with exacting standards. Jane spoke with love, dignity and humour about the heart-breaking experience of her husband’s death, and the incredible part that Claridge Funeral Services played both before, and since. Here is what she had to say:
My wonderful husband, Doug, had been ill for quite some time and I knew he was dying. I also knew that I had to start thinking about the practical issues and prepare myself (as best I could) for his death. I had dealt with undertakers after the death of my parents but, as I’m not from Marlborough, I didn’t know who to contact or where to start – fortunately, a friend recommended Claridge Funeral Services.
My grown-up children made an appointment with Daniel Claridge. From the moment my children arrived they were made to feel welcome by the Claridge Family. My son was incredibly impressed with Daniel, saying ‘he was deeply sympathetic without being sombre, humorous without being disrespectful.’ With information given, and details exchanged, they felt reassured that when the time came, we would all be in safe hands.
Doug died at home, on a Saturday, just after midnight. Nothing, but nothing, prepared me for the loss.
Doug had been my husband, my love, my life, for 48 years. I had also cared for him 24/7 for the past 5 years. Now, he would no longer be by my side, and I would no longer be looking after him. It was an unimaginable feeling of pain and numbness.
My children had been taking it in turns to stay with me and, when Doug died, it was my eldest son who telephoned the on-call doctor. Once the doctor had visited and certified the death, it was time to contact Claridge’s.
We called Daniel at 1am; he was so wonderfully kind and reassuring. At 2am, Daniel and his colleague, Joe, arrived (discreetly) looking immaculate and professional. The trolley and equipment they had with them looked clean and comfortable, with pristine pillow and covers.
They were simply wonderful, making me feel confident that I could take my first steps away from Doug; that he would be in safe hands, that they would take care of him. They ‘normalized’ the whole process with their kind, practical approach, involving me in every single moment.
I was at the start of a journey; one where my life would never be the same again. The Claridge Family made me feel that what was happening was perfectly normal and nothing to be frightened of. Daniel treated both Doug, and me, with the utmost respect. They weren’t just ‘going through the motions’.
They carefully, respectfully and discreetly took Doug into their care, where he stayed for 18 days, in preparation for the funeral service.
When I felt ready to make the arrangements, Daniel was there. He listened to my thoughts and gently guided me in the right direction, intuitively knowing what to say and when to say it, gauging my mood perfectly.
There was not one single moment during the funeral preparation where I felt pressured, on the contrary, they made me feel that I was special and that I was doing the best I possibly could for my husband.
It was a beautiful funeral.
Since then, the whole Claridge Family have kept in touch, inviting me to pop in for coffee (which I do regularly) and even allowing me to help out with their open day. They have now become firm friends and their premises, in Parade Mews, has become a home-from-home. They are good people whose care and concern extends way beyond a loved-one’s funeral.
I truly believe that Claridge are delivering a community service, one which they just happen to get paid for. I’m not in the slightest bit worried about my own death now; they have alleviated any fear I once had, with their humanity and their life-affirming approach to death.
My life has been enriched by knowing the Claridge Family and if I died tomorrow, I would be thankful that I had known them, and happy that they were my undertakers; giving my family the same care and support that they gave me.