top of page


Only With Love

                      Claire's story                          



                   © 2013 Claire Turnham

Having tenderly cared for my own father before and after he died I understand the profound benefits and deepest healing experience creating a home funeral "only with love" can bring.


May sharing my story encourage you to consider caring for your own loved one at home too if this choice feels right for you and your family.


When my father Ivan was suddenly diagnosed as being terminal it was a complete shock. We were expecting to hear at a routine hospital appointment that his recent surgery to remove a bowel tumour had been successful.


Instead, we were told that my dad was going to die and whilst the doctor didn't know exactly when, he felt it would be soon.


From that defining moment our plans, hopes and lives were changed forever. I remember dad and I just clung to each other and cried. The pain in my heart was overwhelming.


I drove us home numb with disbelief. We both felt scared and distraught, yet the reality was I felt we had no choice but to accept and embrace what was happening. I also needed to tell my children Poppy, Celia, Theo and Fern who were all waiting at home.


In essence whilst I understood medically no more could be done to save my dad’s life I felt as a family we could help him. Ultimately I knew in my heart that we could not change the outcome for my dad but I knew by being there for him and loving him unconditionally we could change the journey.


I summoned all my courage, faced my deepest fears and shared the simple truth to the best of my understanding with each of the children in an age appropriate, sensitive way.


Knowing how much they loved their Poppa and he loved them I felt it was important for all of us that they be included and to feel valued in this process.


I had no experience of death or dying before this but I knew instinctively that I wanted our remaining time together to be the very best, most natural, joyful and most loving it could be for all of us.


Despite the children and I only arriving on holiday to stay with dad the week before diagnosis the greatest journey of our lives so far was only just beginning.


It was Dad's wish to remain at home and to" live" up until he died and this is exactly what he did. The photo of the two of us at the top of this page was taken on a family outing the day before he died six weeks later.


Dad felt he had lived a good life and he wanted to continue living it as normally as possible at home until he could live it no more. He didn't want death pushed on him but he accepted it was coming on his terms when he was ready. It was his love of life, nature and his love for his family which motivated him.


With the support of my family, friends and the local hospice I devoted my time to lovingly caring for my Dad in his own home. Knowing that death was not far away made us appreciate each moment. We shared much love, laughter, tears, memories, life stories and wisdom together.


It was an incredibly precious and special time and we found joy in simple family moments. With each passing day we became more attentive, more caring, savouring every moment, making it last. We lived totally in the moment until he died gently cradled in my arms, surrounded by us all.


My dad’s death was beautiful and like nothing I had imagined it would be. After vigiling with him during what seemed like a long labour similar to a birth, my dad died consciously, without fear and most importantly knowing how much he was loved.


It was a loving, awe inspiring time and he died with my blessing, without pain and in peace.


This was his gift …a true gift of grace.


At the time of Dad's death, like in life, I felt as his daughter it was natural for me to continue gently caring for him as I had in life and we kept his body at home for 5 days until we led his funeral.


I was totally committed to his care. The children were fully involved too and each took on their own role by choice. Poppy wrote poetry and helped with gathering photos and music, Celia helped dress him, Theo drew pictures and Fern talked to him and cuddled him. 


I had always felt very safe with my dad and I remembered fondly how as a child he had lovingly held my hand. When he did so I felt secure and protected. 


After he died being able to tenderly touch his body and hold his hand again was very important to me. When the time came to finally let his body go I was able to still feel the imprint of his hand in mine and I still feel it to this day.


With the help of family and friends we celebrated Dad's life with a beautiful and intimate funeral ceremony in his own much loved garden.


For my Dad, it was perfect and I feel hugely privileged and proud to have honoured his life in such a loving, simple and meaningful way.


This was our gift... a true gift of thanks.


For myself this experience was life changing and profound. I have found it deeply nourishing and sustaining.


I feel experiencing dad's death makes me more determined to live a life of joy, peace, love and meaning. I understand love goes on and this is the legacy I am left with.


I feel deeply and intuitively that this natural cycle of life and death and all that embracing it means needs to be shared.


I have since trained as an Independent Funeral Celebrant, Soul Midwife and Home Funeral Guide.


I have founded Only With Love - family led home funerals as a way of sharing my knowledge, skills and experience to help others.


If this choice feels right for you and your family I will feel privileged and honoured to help you too with the same care, commitment and dedication.


May you feel gentleness, tenderness, warmth and beauty and may healing and peace be yours,


Only with love,




            © 2013 Claire Turnham



            © 2013 Claire Turnham



            © 2013 Claire Turnham




            © 2013 Claire Turnham



            © 2013 Claire Turnham



            © 2013 Claire Turnham



            © 2013 Claire Turnham



            © 2013 Claire Turnham

"You can't change the outcome but you can change the journey"

Only With Love - family led home funerals

deeply honouring the life of a loved one


bottom of page