The funeral of Jay Fewtrell will take place tomorrow (Wednesday) – complete with a biker procession and lots of sunflowers.
Jay died suddenly at his home last month. He was only 38.
With his wife, the soprano Rebecca Newman, Jay set up the York Proms. And Rebecca is determined that his final send-off will be a celebration of his life, which was so sadly cut short.
“He was a keen biker and some of his biker friends who he did two European tours with will be leading his processing from home to the crematorium,” she said.
Rebecca is ensuring that sunflowers adorn the route from the Dormouse pub to the crematorium, and is asking mourners to wear orange, his favourite colour.
“One month today since he left us, and tomorrow we give him his big, bright, colourful send off,” she said today on Facebook.
“So much still to do but so proud I can do it for him. I know he would’ve liked it.”
Jay died after a heart attack at his home in Rawcliffe despite the desperate attempts of Rebecca then paramedics to save him.
He leaves a son, Logan, who is nearly three years old.
Because of Covid restrictions, only a few of Jay’s many friends can be at the funeral. That is why Rebecca is putting so much effort into making the procession “uniquely him”.
In the days running up to the funeral, Rebecca wrote candidly and movingly about how “grief is not like it is in the movies”.
“It’s an emotionally complex time for me and I’ve realised the best thing I can do for myself is to not be afraid of those emotions,” she writes.
With her permission we are reprinting her words below.
‘A few words on grief’
I laughed today. A loud belly laugh. My sister was ‘hiding’ in full view from my toddler and it was really funny. My sister has always made me laugh. I also laughed the night Jay died. I made inappropriate jokes. My toddler made me howl with laughter at 2am after a 6 hour car journey down south with my dad to stay with family. I regularly silly dance with my toddler to silly songs and fall about laughing.
Why do I feel the need to tell you?
Well, when I laughed at my sister today I thought ‘if someone heard me they would think “wow, she’s laughing, she doesn’t seem that upset that her husband has just died”’.
Six weeks ago I may have thought that about someone else. I considered myself to be a very emotionally intelligent person who understood trauma and emotional complexities. And yet I may have fallen in that trap of thinking ‘well she’s not that upset’.
This bothers me because I know those who care about me and want me to okay may also get confused if I seem ‘happy’. It bothers me because I don’t want anyone to think that I loved jay any less or I’m relishing a future without him. Of course not.
What I want to explain to people is that grief is not like it is in the movies. If someone had told me what I would be like when the love of my life and the father of my toddler son died in front of me, I would’ve found it hard to believe. I would’ve imagined breaking down into a heap and wailing, taking myself to bed for six months or maybe even becoming withdrawn and not leaving the house.
Maybe some people do react like this, but what I’ve found with grief is that you are sad that the person has died but you are also keenly aware of still being alive yourself. Emotions, in general, become stronger. Now, when something makes me laugh I laugh louder.
Not to mention my feelings for Logan have changed. I see him, and enjoy him, more then I did before. It’s like all my emotions have been turned up. Plus, I can cry tears that are simultaneously happy and sad, like when I watch one of his silly videos and I laugh with him but also cry that he’s not here and I will never speak to him, or touch him, again.
It’s an emotionally complex time for me and I’ve realised the best thing I can do for myself is to not be afraid of those emotions. When I get upset and cry I know that it is good for me. That Im ridding my body of stress hormones and I’ll feel a bit better afterwards. I know I’m processing the trauma I’ve been through and the loss I’m facing. So I embrace the tears. Not least because mourning a loss is only possible when you had something to lose in the first place.
So if you have a friend who is going through something similar I hope this helps a bit with the understanding of their grief.