Christian's story – organising a funeral during coronavirus

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Maggie's Barts – London

The plans for Grant’s funeral were overturned by social distancing. But Christian still found a fitting way for friends and family to honour his partner.

My partner Grant was a primary school teacher, before that he was in the Metropolitan Police for 17 years.

Two years ago, he was diagnosed with myeloma and on Sunday 23 February this year, he died. 

Three days before we had found out that his cancer had advanced to leukaemia and lung cancer.   

Grant was treated at Bart’s hospital in London. 

He would go to Maggie’s before and after appointments because it was much nicer and calmer than a hospital waiting room. 

After big appointments we’d go to Maggie’s together, have cups of tea and biscuits, and find a quiet spot to talk about what we heard, how we felt and the next steps. Grant also did yoga at Maggie’s.  

Our Maggie's experience

Maggie’s is very calming, it was a very nice environment for both of us as it’s not clinical.

I remember the first time I went I thought this is how I want my flat to be. It’s a calm, neutral, homely space.

It’s not institutional. We both really loved it, I can’t recommend it highly enough.   

Organising Grant's funeral 

When planning Grant’s funeral, I had intentionally got a slot at the end of the day so that as many people could come as possible.

Grant loved a party and would always include as many people as he could. 

His school was planning to close early so that colleagues could attend and we were expecting about 200 people in total.  

We then found out that Grant’s funeral would have to be scaled down owing to coronavirus. Because of social distancing, we could only have 12 people attend. 

His family live in Aberdeen and couldn’t attend. That was really hard for them. 

However they took some comfort in holding a memorial service for Grant the week before, where his sister Lynn organised a collection for Maggie’s Aberdeen. 

We are also planning a big celebration for him around his birthday in August.   

Tribute page 

We knew we wanted to have a collection at Grant’s funeral, and Grant’s family and I decided to split it 50/50 between Bart’s charity and Maggie’s. 

I emailed Maggie’s before the funeral and they suggested that we set up a 'Tribute page', which worked really well. 

I was slightly worried about having to handle lots of money from a collection plate. I much prefer online donations as it's cleaner and safer. 

So all in all, the Tribute page seemed like a perfect solution to raise money and honour a loved one. 

Seeing the donations come in has been a very positive experience for me.  

Grant’s sister, Lynn is a co-editor of the Tribute page. She felt quite isolated being in Aberdeen and couldn’t attend the funeral, but I think helping to run the page has helped her feel more connected.   

Supporting Barts and Maggie’s 

It’s lovely seeing all of the money pour in, and nice to know that Maggie’s and Bart’s Hospital will benefit.

There are some lovely messages from people who have donated too. 

For anybody in a similar position, I would definitely recommend setting one up. 

At the moment, friends and family might not be able to attend the funeral but they can still contribute and will want to feel like they’re doing something. 

Fundraising for Maggie's 

I’ll be doing a sponsored walk when all of this is finished.

Grant and I talked about walking the Thames Path over the course of the year, so that’s what I’m going to do next to raise money for Maggie’s. I’ll be using the Tribute page to raise money for Maggie’s. 

Grant raised quite a lot of money from his stand-up comedy shows for Maggie’s, it was very important to him, so I want to keep that line going through the Tribute page.

And I also want to say thank you for all the positive support Maggie’s offered Grant.  

We're here for you

If you, your family or friends need support during this time, please call us on 0300 123 180, email or book a time to visit us and if you're already visiting the hospital, just come in.

Set up a tribute page

A Maggie’s tribute page is a wonderful way to remember someone you loved by raising money in their name supporting Maggie’s work. Find out how to set up a tribute page.

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