The Funeral

The first stage of Michael’s funeral was the service at Saint Mary the Virgin, Oxted. The coffin was carried in by brothers Matthew and Sam; son Oliver; cousin Mark; brother-in-law, Errol; and Emily’s partner Sam. I walked behind.

The church was packed with representatives of every walk of my son’s life.

Michael’s daughters, Emily and Alice delivered a heartwarming eulogy, whilst not failing to acknowledge the terrible sadness of the event, presenting a real celebration of an exceptional life. They referred to a number of Soho stories such as ‘Rabbits On The Roof’, and recounted some their own memories, as recorded in ‘The Gite From Hell’.

Tender, at a times struggling to continue, their father would have been proud of them.

We then travelled to the crematorium for an emotional committal.

Refreshments were made available at The Black Horse in Reigate. So uplifting was this last stage that I stayed much longer than I had anticipated. Not yet ambulant enough to mill among the throng, I stayed seated, where people of all ages visited for conversation and commiserations. I had the pleasure of recognising many who had shared parts of their childhood with Michael and were now in or on the cusp of middle age. Some spoke of shared moments, some of which I had not remembered myself. Eventually I flaked out and Elizabeth drove me home.

Emily and Alice had compiled a full range of photographs of their Dad which ran in a loop throughout the reception. Many of those in their own memories were taken by Heidi, herself an excellent photographer. My archives were relied upon for Michael’s earlier life.

Here is one of the cheeky little chap when his mother was still alive.


  1. I can’t imagine how difficult this day was for you and your family, Derrick. I would imagine you found comfort being with Michael’s friends and family to celebrate his life. Thank you for sharing the adorable photo…it made me smile. I hope you get some rest this weekend. xo

  2. I’m glad there were happy memories and moments in such a sad time. It’s a funny thing about funerals–how often we’re cheered to be with or get reacquainted with people we haven’t seen in a while. Thinking of you and your family, and I see from your comment above that you plan to rest and watch rugby over the weekend. Sounds like a great plan! xo

  3. A beautiful service and a great tribute to your wonderful son Michael attested by the attendance of so many family and friends. He impacted so many people in such a positve way. His spirit was beaming down upon you all from heaven. Michael’s spirit will continue to be deep in all your hearts as you all continue to remember his vibrant life and outstanding character. A good man indeed!

  4. it is only now (thanks to a translator) that I understand.
    I am with you wholeheartedly in these painful moments. You will keep in your heart, I am certain, the most beautiful images of Michael

  5. I’m glad that the gathering after the funeral was uplifting. Although it’s tragic that Michael couldn’t be physically with you all, I’m sure he was there in spirit, in the thoughts of so many people who loved him. I often think events like that should be held while we are still alive. The great thing about your family is that you do have many such warm and loving gatherings to enjoy and look back on, preserved by the great family tradition of taking pictures.

  6. Oh, what a day of mixed emotions you had, Derrick. I’m so glad there were some uplifting moments with wonderful memories of Michael being shared with his friends and wider family. The baby photo is adorable. I hope you can have a relaxing weekend and regain your strength. Warm *hugs* from me. x

  7. What a beautiful child Michael was! I am glad you have those wonderful memories, Derrick.

    When I get a tree planted for your Michael here, it will be a flowering tree to honor such a sweet, loving soul.

  8. Thank you for sharing your day with us, Derrick. Those stories you link to are amazing! I can just imagine the storytelling that went on at your beloved boy’s funeral. So – you made it through that. Hoping you have some quiet recovery days. Love to you both.

  9. That photograph is the very essence of a happy child. I had reins like that, and remember the days when you had to take your own bags shopping.

    I’m gladto hear it turned into a celebration of a life well-lived. If you have to have a funeral it’s the best sort.

    Hope you are able to rest and get your health back now.

  10. I am so grateful you have shared Michael’s funeral with us, it does indeed sound like a wonderful testament to an extraordinary soul. Now comes the football and the breathing and the sleeping and the just being…… while you adjust to being a new kind of father and so life will continue. Warm hugs.

  11. I’m glad you were able to have a positive celebration of life, Derrick and hope the day didn’t tire you too much.
    I grew up very close to Oxted, went to school there and know that particular church very well. It makes it all the more real to me too. Best wishes as always…

  12. Thank you for this heartwarming and beautiful post, Derrick. I’m so glad you are surrounded by your loving family at such a difficult time. My thoughts are with you, and I wish you well.

  13. “The church was packed with representatives of every walk of my son’s life.“

    That’s says a lot about a person. And like was said above that photo is the very definition of a happy child.

  14. What a beautiful sweet photo of a beautiful sweet boy. 🙂
    What a difficult, heartbreaking time this has been for all of you. 🙁
    I’m glad you were surrounded by family and friends and Michael’s life and love was celebrated.
    I believe Michael is there with you in spirit, heart, love, and in memories…and always will be.
    My continued prayers, love, condolences and (((HUGS))) to you, Jackie, your Mum, and all of Michael’s family and friends.

  15. Oh Derrick my heart goes out to you and your family. What a wonderful send off you all gave Michael. He will be smiling down on you. Some people think when someone dies the funeral is the hardest thing to go through. I personally think the hardest part begins now when you have to carry on without that special someone. But you will carry on and have your special memories, photos and each other to help you x

  16. I can imagine the vortex of emotions the family would have gone through. I am happy the grieving were comforted by the warmth of Michael’s memories.

  17. ”There are two occasions when the sacred beauty of Creation becomes dazzlingly apparent, and they occur together. One is when we feel our mortal insufficiency to the world, and the other is when we feel the world’s mortal insufficiency to us.”
    ~Marilynne Robinson

  18. My condolences, Derrick. Thank goodness for all the people who loved and remembered Michael and who came together for the celebration of his life.

  19. By the end of the day I imagine you were exhausted both physically and emotionally. I’m glad it went well for you.

  20. That’s a lovely photograph and I’m glad the day went well. It sounds as if there are a lot of good things to remember about Michael and that he had a lot of good friends.

  21. I am sure that after the tumults of the past weeks yesterday could be seen as a turning point and you should surely be due for some quiet revitalizing R and R.

    My hope is for things to only improve on all fronts as the healing process progresses.

  22. Thank you for sharing the sorrowful day that is so full of love and loving memories. Take care, Mx

  23. Cute baby, beloved man 😀 … in the words of Dumbledore, ‘…death is only the next great adventure …’ may you and Jackie sit in your garden and contemplate the Beauty therein.

  24. It sounds like a beautiful celebration of a meaningful life. I love the photo of your son as a chubby little boy. Thank goodness for all of your photos.

      1. My daughter is our family memory keeper. She’s taken photos of everything and everyone since she first held a camera as a teen. I wish I’d been better at capturing those memories.

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