I Slept on the Streets During My Father’s Death and Arranging Funeral

On January 10, 2016 by admin
Alone and On Streets Just Hours After Dad's Death

Alone and On Streets Just Hours After Dad’s Death

I had to wander and sleep on the streets on Manchester and in coach stations while going through my father’s death and managing his funeral.

This was just last year in March 2015.

End of Life Care BE THERE

End of Life Care – Remember to Be There

My father had died in Salford Hope Hospital on 9th March 2015 at 6.10pm.  I was with him.  I had shot up from Hastings when my brother told me he had had a massive stroke on Saturday, and both he and the hospital said he would not make it.

My brother said not to come up, not to bother, he was in a coma, virtually a vegetable, He would not know me or even come round. It was a waste of time and he would tell me when he died and not even come up for the funeral as it would all be done without me and there would be no need.

I got on the train first thing on Sunday and flew up. Well flew up for a Sunday. There were repairs on the lines and I had to make 5 change overs.

Salford Hope Hospital

Salford Hope Hospital

I got to the hospital. My brother had been and gone.

I stayed with Dad, he never came to. I just stayed with him until he died the following day, Monday, 9th March at 6.10pm.

I just sat with the body, waited, contemplated, remembered and prayed.  My father had had a long life. He was nearly 90. Would have turned 90 in June, we were robbed of that life milestone.

I was so glad I was able to come up

I wandered and slept on benches and in bus stations during my fathers death while arranging my fathers funeral. What would any man think if this was his daughter?

I wandered and slept on benches and in bus stations during my fathers death while arranging my fathers funeral. What would any man think if this was his daughter having to do this?

Except for a brief leaving to access a public computer to let people know what was going on I stayed at the side of him. The staff set up a small cot bed so I could sleep and stay at the side of him overnight.

I spent most of the time, at the side of him, my hand on his shoulder, or stroking his hair, holding his arm or hand, stroking, caring reassuring or resting on his heart to feel the beating heart and the lungs still breathing although struggling and gurgling as fluid was on his lungs and he was slowly drowning.

Patient holding handsI needed to let him know somehow that I was there.  Even if a person dying does not know you are there it is important to care and be there.  Death and dying is a very lonely place for anyone to go through it alone. To wake up in the night, or in the dark. to have no one there and be alone in your dying. It is so alone and so wrong.

He cried out in the night. A scream. Some deep dark nightmare or fear he was in. I got up from the cot and stood beside him, speaking too him, reassuring, calming and stroking his hair. He calmed. It may be me. I squeezed his hand and fingers and I swear I got the most tiniest squeeze back from his fingers on to mine.

He must not be afraid, he must not be alone and not know that I love him and am with him. It was not the most easiest of relationships, He was man of his time, old fashioned, man head and in charge of house, wife and children to be seen and not heard. A lot of traditional 1940s/50s stuff which we would not accept today. It had its consequences. But we must forgive, forget and move on and try and understand the man, see him in his entirety.

Maybe some men are not made for family, marriage and relationships, especially if they are not trained. In those days it was a matter of get married and get on with it. Any problems nobody discussed anything. Just sat there in silence. I chose to try and get a relationship with my father, confused him totally as he did not understand it and why do we bother with all that palaver and soft clap trap. But we got a funny understand, shared music and walking, and talking engineering and problem solving. Bloke stuff and got a funny quipy sense of humour between us,

My Dad on visit after over ten years. Sorry Dad, we made it up. But you were taken. before your 90th.

My Dad on visit after over ten years. Sorry Dad, we made it up. But you were taken. before your 90th.

Despite his dementia, the last thing he said to me in the home was over the steak and ale pie. After ten years of not seeing him due to being cut off and my being too ill myself I found where he was and got up for a long weekend visit over my birthday in January 2015. I spent long time with him, most of day, mornings when he got up, dinner, afternoon and evening. Despite his dementia he soon got round and realised I was there. When I got there he was a lone, looking depressed and abandoned. Probably wondering what life had left him with and where it had all gone. Damn that Maggie Thatcher and the Destruction of the North, working mens jobs and whole manufacturing and engineering industry.

On the last day, I asked him “What beer do you reckon they used in this pie?” not expecting an answer from the fermament of his dementia. “I don’t know. They must have hidden it.” came the straight quip back. And that was it, the last thing he ever said to me. Except for me bowing down, holding his hand and looking in his eye as I promised him that despite going away I would be back for his 90th birthday in June. We did not get to that milestone. I so wish we had and had had another day and another long weekend.

But I chose to look further, and instead of seeing just a dad and what it could have been, or should have been and moaned about how it was not perfect I chose to look further and see the man.

My dad did lots of stuff and got up to lots of things. He took advantage of all opportunities and made the most of it. At his funeral I said one things summed it up. “HE WENT FOR IT!”

I was with him when he went. I had my hand on his head and the other on his chest. Stroking his hair and monitoring his chest. He breathed in, breathed out, breathed in, breathed out and that was it. His heart stopped. No problems, no struggle, no distress, no pain, it was over.

I checked, then called the hospital staff and they confirmed.

Then it was a matter of phoning my brother, who just a few minutes of me being at the side of a living body, now dead was not interested and only interested in how and who was paying for the funeral. It was a shock, I would have liked a little bit of concern or comfort, or “How are you…” “Did he have a peaceful death…” which I assured him of, even though he did not ask or show interest.

In the end, I paid half the funeral, got care home to find and give back money they had embezzled from my brother, told brother how to access insurance which books had been burnt by father in a fit in 1970s. He found fathers insurance came to me, but also he missed out that mothers death insurance went to him, The insurance company assured me my brother had been more than taken care of.

However, Families and Funerals, a difficult time.

I helped wash and prepare the body as my last act of love to him as he said he had washed me as a baby.

I arranged the hospital chaplain to be contacted and for prayers of commitment of my dad  into the next life.

The hospital porters and morgue had been contacted. But they did not collect the body until 11.30pm.

I quietly sat with the body all that time. In the dark. With the lights and beeping of the rest of the ward coming in from under the door.

Unfortunately, when my father’s body was finally picked up and they took him away to lie on the cold mortuary slab alone for the rest of the night I had no right to stay in the hospital any more.

My dad was dead, they needed the bed. The bereavement suite would open at 8am in morning and I had to leave til then.

No Room, No Bed, No Home

No Room, No Bed, No Place to Stay

I walked out onto the street. I tried the hotels and bed and breakfast places just opposite and near the hospital.  There was no vacancies.

I got on a  bus to the centre of Manchester. I aimed to get a bed at one of the cheap national hotel chains: Premier, Travel Lodge, in a hostel or anywhere cheap.

There as nowhere to stay.  All rooms throughout Manchester and Salford were booked up due to Manchester United playing a home game and a few big names being in concert that night in Manchester including Noel Gallagher at Arena.

I was just a few hours from being with my Dad when he died. Managing my brother when I informed him. Sat with the dead body for over 5 hours, being ousted out onto the night streets by the hospital once my father was dead and on his way to the morgue and here I was wandering round the streets of inner city Manchester with no where to do, no bed, no where to stay. Hotels would not even let me stay in their lounge or reception except for a few hours.

I got slightly upset at one, as it must have all been coming on top of me, the events, managing it and not having time to feel about it.

It was 1.30pm in the morning by then. The manager could not understand my speech due to my speech impediment  My distress made it worse and presentation after having the same clothes on and sleeping in a hospital cot probably did not come over very well. I had no baggage as I rushed up on the train, just one small over the shoulder bag.

So he thought me an ill homeless bag woman, he dismissed my  telling of the death of my father as me lying and ordered me to leave he would call the police and have me arrested.

I went out into the dark, into an isolated and abandoned part of town where this motel was, among empty large car parks, walk under  dark black bridges and walkways, among empty office units and industrial parks. Nobody and nothing about except lone men walking home from pub. I got accosted and asked for sex. I walked back into Manchester City centre.  I again got accosted by groups of men. I ran and banged on the window of a hotel. I was allowed in, but because I was upset and they did not understand, thought I was on drugs or something they ordered me out again.

Just a lone bagless woman, instead of a woman who had just lost her father a few hours ago after not knowing him for years due to his dementia, slept on trains, cots and exhausted and now having to wander the streets.

It was 3am by now. I persuaded a hotel reception to ring for a taxi, instead of throwing me out and got the taxi to take me back to the hospital in Salford.

It would only be another 5 hours until the bereavement suite opened at 8am. I might as well be close to the hospital when then opened. I wandered and walked around the hospital buildings. There was not even a form or bench I could sit on. I waited outside a staff door until staff came out, caught the door and went in.

Slept on Waiting Room Seating

Slept on Waiting Room Seating

I wandered and slept on remote visitor couches in remote corners. At 5am I made my way round to the ward where my father had died. I explained the situation and asked and begged that I be allowed to sleep in the visitor’s lounge until the bereavement suite opened in the morning. They did. So I lay across benches with full lights blaring and a TV in corner on a boring channel until morning. I would not say I slept, but at least it was warm and comfortable after a fashion.

The following morning, the bereavement suite said they may or may not be able to issue a certificate as there were questions about the fluid on dad’s chest and lungs. It was food fluid and there were questions about the care homes care as it seemed they had ignored feeding requirements. Therefore, liquid food had gone straight to his lungs.

I hung around Manchester waiting as they said they could let me know later.

Instead my brother rang up and said I had gone home. I had no interest in the funeral and was not coming back. I did not know this until 4pm. That is why bereavement suite did not call me.

I could pick up certificate later in week, probably Friday.

I went home to Hastings.

I sent more time living and sleeping on streets and in coach stations when organising and managing the funeral.

I knew I had to cut down costs and save money.

I knew there were some costs. Still I was shocked when the funeral director took all my money in my account. I had again saved up as much as I could as going through court case. The last court appearance and decisions had the judge ordering my retaliatory eviction, charging me court fee costs and landlord taking deposit. I had to arrange £800 emergency loans to move and pay hundreds to move. This had again taken, taken and taken all my DLA and disabled benefit money. The case should have been wrapped up with the evidence and history of overwhelming proof. Instead, one judge after another did not let me speak the case and instead ordered and directed hundred and thousands out of my benefits and DLA and totally ignored the disability, the mental distress and illness and that the landlord could get at me at anytime and continue. Every direction took up over a months DLA. And even after all efforts I was evicted and charged more costs.  Anyway, my dad was dead. I had to arrange the funeral and had to get on with it and make it the best.

I cut down the cost of the funeral. I managed most of the funeral myself. Even so the funeral director insisted that half the bill was the funeral directors fee, nearly £1000.  I said I had done most of the funeral arrangements, so how come?

He just looked at me calmly and coldly and said “Well, it would be a shame if anything went wrong with your father’s funeral……”

There was not much else to do. The funeral director only had to pick up the body, keep it and show it in a chapel, small cupboard of rest but I knew a threat when I heard one.

So I handed over the money. And slept on the streets, managed the death and funeral alone and with brother and family relations being their own usual selves when it comes to family and funerals, awkward, bitchy and bringing all skeletons and long dead bodies of grievances out of the cupboards. This is what I managed and had to manage in the middle of managing my own experience and grief.  There was no time to feel and there was no one to comfort me and I just had to get on with it.

At the end, and at the funeral, the funeral director and celebrant actually said it was one of the best and most respectful services ever. I wanted to make it personal, relevant and know who was in the coffin, not just a body, not just a man but a father and person.

There was no wake, no one was there. Everyone of the warring relatives decided not to turn up. I bought extra flowers to adorn the coffin, make him look more wanted and loved. I did not have a car behind the coffin. I rode in the hearse at the side of the coffin with my father’s body in with the only people being the driver, funeral director and bearers.

That was it, Just me, the body and the box.

Therefore, coming back and forth from Hastings and Manchester and Bolton I booked and travelled on overnight buses. Slept on floors and cold metal benches on big 3 hour wait over times at Birmingham bus station.

I did this 4 times. Wandering about London, Manchester and Birmingham towns until overnight coach was due. Then walking straight out into still closed, cold and dark towns in the early hours arrival times.

There was very little sleep and I went straight into getting to my destination, hospital, funeral directors, care home, registrar office. None in the same town or close. Manchester, Salford, Eccles, Bolton, Bury. back and forth, back and forth on a day trip ticket on the buses, which took several hours between each destination.

I had an example of my mental impairment at the Registrar office. There was a reception and only 3 interview rooms behind. I asked what room I needed to go to. She told me, by the time I had turned round and walked towards the offices the number and information had gone, No instant recall, no short term memory.  I went back again. asked again, got the number, turned round, went round the corner, information had gone again. I knew I must look stupid, but I went back to the reception, apologies and explained that I had mental impairment and stroke disabilities and did not remember. So we did the intelligent thing and wrote it down. Got to the interview room where I handed over the hospital doctors death certificate and got the registration of death. I have severe mental impairment and gross post traumatic stress disorder, severe depression and reactive anxiety, Yet arranged and organised it all. And much better than some, grit and determination I think some call it.

That is how I managed my father’s death and funeral. But it was still a good funeral. I do not regret it, I gave him my best and did my best and then went off alone.

Bolton Crematorium Where I conducted my fathers funeral, talking to the wall and just the funeral director and celebrant. Nobody came. But told it went well and I did my dad proud. Brass Band music. Nimrod from Enigma and Orange Juice from Brassed Off. Fitting.

Bolton Crematorium
Where I conducted my fathers funeral, talking to the wall and just the funeral director and celebrant. Nobody came. But told it went well and I did my dad proud. Brass Band music. Nimrod from Enigma and Orange Juice from Brassed Off. Fitting.

There was no party or wake to go back to after the funeral. There was no house or nobody. I walked out of the crematorium as my father’s body went into the flame. I walked out into the cemetery and walked through all the dead buried bodies, stones and flowers. Down to the River Croal, along its banks and into town, into Bolton by following the river into Queens Park.

I sat and contemplated gardens and the spring flowers. It was a nice, clear crisp Spring day. I had arranged the funeral to be in the morning first thing. What a better time to go, then in the crisp bright morning of a beautiful spring day.

Just a Few Pounds of Ash is the Sum of Your Life. In a plastic bag. What have you done? Where have you gone? Who have you affected for Good or Bad?

Just a Few Pounds of Ash is the Sum of Your Life. In a plastic bag. What have you done? Where have you gone? Who have you affected for Good or Bad?

I collected the ashes the following day. I asked the taxi firm to find me the right kind of drive who would be Ok about my collecting my father’s ashes and committing them to the brook of where he worked, played in brass band and supped in pub Eagley Village.

He gave me an older fatherly figure of a Muslim father and grandfather. He knew to be quiet and not chat or ask too many questions.

I got to Eagley Mills and Brook, the driver offered to go with me, but I went alone. I walked on the narrow bridge over the river. Again it was a calm, cool morning. I took the box and emptied the ash into the river. The weight of the whole life and body of my father would have only weighed a few pounds. That was it. I emptied these empty ashes into the brook, and he was gone.

A life lived, a life gone, into ash and into the river. and move on.

I had no time to grieve, so much emotion, things to deal with and events. I could not afford or allow to grieve, it would be used against me and punish me.

I sorted out the belongings left at the care home, gave them the telly and his clothes for other residents. I got on the coach for the overnight travel. I waited and wandered the streets. I slept in the bus coach stations at Birmingham and London until my coach arrived or I could catch a train outside the commuter time.

Sleeping on benches

I was Sleeping on benches

I got home, went to bed, had a cup of tea, looking at his photographs of his life, had a little weep and went to sleep.

Then back to  dealing and struggling with the severe disrepair case and harassment and disability abuse of landlord without any help, support or pity.

No one should live or die like this. So wrong.

No one should live in home or house in fear from landlord or any other man. No one should live his/her life in fear of any other  person or government holding their homes, lives, jobs and income above the heads. Especially when they are the better man or woman with purpose, vision and skills, not just money and power and ability to weald it to make men unhappy, instead of building a brighter future and a stable land and country.

No man should have the ability to make men miserable and be called the better man because of wealth and privilege. To the Victor goes the Spoils. That should be to the best, not the worse. How can we expect men to be better, when all their efforts and diligence endeavour and skill leads to nought, because of the rot of other men.

June Knight
Albert Knight’s Daughter

Albert Knight committed to people and music to the end, Set up groups to keep people going during 80s recession and Thatcher.

Albert Knight committed to people and music to the end, Set up groups to keep people going during 80s recession and Thatcher.






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