Funeral one year after mum’s death…

Eileen in her early 20s

Eileen in her early 20s

My mum’s life was not always easy after the age of about 40… she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and, to be honest, living with her wasn’t always easy. Her doctor prescribed massive doses of medication and these, more or less, kept her in a state of befuddlement. She was living a ‘half-life’ in many ways and it’s no wonder that from time to time she’d ‘protest’ and stop taking her pills and capsules. However, this didn’t help with the symptoms which came back and ultimately led to her being ‘sectioned’ yet again. This happened a few times in her life… she denied her condition and the resultant hospital stays were not pleasant, I suppose.

In the early days of being diagnosed she was given electric shock therapy… but the practices of those days was barbaric and she emerged with much of her memory wiped out and unable to cook etc until she’d re-learned those skills. I know that she was frightened of having more EST… but, unfortunately, she had more than one session.

Later in life a perceptive doctor reduced her dose of medication… but it wasn’t enough to prevent her paranoia re-emerging and again she stopped taking the medication and threw it down the side of her bed in the old people’s home. It was some time before what she was doing was found out and then she had to be sectioned again! Eventually, medication was given via injection about every fortnight and she was stabilised.

Towards the end of her life she expressed a wish to give her body to medical science and to this end she contacted the Manchester University Department of Anatomy and asked to be able to donate her body to be used for the training of morticians and pathologists.

So when, on 14 May 2008, she died in Manchester, her body was removed to the Department of Anatomy. We were told about what would happen to her… a thorough embalming process first and then she’d be assigned to one student throughout the academic year. We were told that all the ‘cadavers’ would be treated respectfully and would remain covered when not being examined. My sister and I were happy with this… and pleased that my mum’s remains would be useful to many people.

The following year we were contacted by the department and invited to a memorial service for all the donors’ families to take place on 29 April… a truly uplifting occasion!

Finally, on 27 July, we were able to attend her funeral and scattered her ashes under a weeping willow tree on 29 July. We were very proud of her decision to help others through her death… and, if the situation permits whereever I am in the world… I’ll do the same thing.

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