I held my sister’s hand as she gave the eulogy at my funeral
Jamienne Thompson broke down as she gave a eulogy for her sister, and when it became all too much her older sibling sprang from the crowd of 300 and held her hand.
It's an incredible opportunity most never get, but when Kelly Hardy was given the gut-wrenching news she had terminal bowel cancer, with just 12 months to live, she knew she couldn't miss the biggest celebration of her life.
The 44-year-old had a "living funeral" and said the only way she could describe it was "insane".
"It was really nice to see so many people there and know they all turned up for me," she said.
"Everyone should do it.
"We blaze through life with an idea in our minds of how people perceive us, so it provided a nice adjustment to actually hear about the things you've done that have impacted someone's life."
Ms Hardy's daughters, Kyah, 15, and Jordan, 11, kept a brave face as six people delivered heartfelt eulogies for their mother.
Ms Hardy, who fought cancer for 18 months, said she was grateful she could support her loved ones in their grief.
"My sister's speech about losing me went for ages because she kept ending up in tears," she said.
"I ended up beside her, holding her hand, which was a real benefit to being at my own funeral.
"I was reminded how much it meant for her to have the support of an older sister and how I gave her my first car when she got her licence."
Ms Thompson said the event was confronting, but she was glad it happened.
"Because one of the biggest regrets when you lose a loved one is not having that opportunity to ensure they knew how loved they are and how much they mean to you," she said.
Attending her own funeral was a "classic Kelly move", according to Ms Thompson, who said her sister's main motive was to create a stronger support network for those who would grieve her loss, particularly her two daughters.
Ms Thompson told the crowd that Ms Hardy was the kind of sister who made life easier.
"I am sure that I was the annoying little sister at times growing up, but I can never remember a time when she ever made me feel it," she said in her eulogy.
"She was always caring and kind.
"She watched out for me and always included me."
Ms Thompson said it was difficult to tell her sister how much she meant to her.
"But I'm hopeful that by her seeing all your faces here today that she will get the idea of just how special she is," she said.
One of those faces was an old friend who shared one of many inside jokes with Mrs Hardy from their teenage years.
"She passed out facedown on the lawn at a birthday party," Ms Hardy said.
"Every time we have caught up since, we've done a re-enactment so we did one at the funeral.
"I really got to relive my youth and reflect on all the good times."
Ms Hardy said the funeral, held at the Broadbeach Cats AFL Club, plunged her husband and sister into the football community in which she was heavily involved with her daughters.
The Pacific Pines woman has been integral in the growth of female AFL on the Gold Coast since 2017 when she formed and coached a girls team at her local club.
She moved to the Broadbeach Cats in early 2019, where she has continued in various volunteer roles, even during her cancer battle.
For the past 12 months scheduled her chemotherapy around home games.
"But this year the chemo has taken its toll and so has the cancer, which is spreading throughout my body," she said.
"The hardest part of it all is preparing your kids to live without their parent.
"But they have the football community now and I hope they find comfort in football.
"My 15-year-old, Kyah, has been training with the Broadbeach Cats women's team and now she has 40 women who I know are there to have her back."
Ms Hardy said she was proud to be leaving a huge legacy in the AFL community alongside Broadbeach Cats AFL master Andrew Schumacher who died unexpectedly the week before her funeral.
The next 12 months for Ms Hardy will be spent making precious memories for her husband Ron, and daughters Kyah and Jordan.
A GoFundMe has been set up for the family to assist with home repairs and make the most of their time together.
Mrs Thompson said it hadn't been decided how they would commemorate her sister once she was gone.
Originally published as I held my sister's hand as she gave the eulogy at my funeral