When I retired as a humanist celebrant I thought I'd stop writing this blog, but my fascination with all things death-related prompted more posts. They're just written from a slightly different perspective, that's all. Oh, and I still do the odd one, by special request.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

People hear what they want to

I was glued to the TV on Friday night, watching NCIS (one of my favourite programmes), when the phone rang.

"Yes?" (I was in the middle of an interesting autopsy with forensic pathologist Ducky Mallard, and didn't care to be interrupted).

"Is it too late to ring you?"

It was a woman's voice I didn't recognise. The good thing about the new Freeview boxes is that you can pause a programme, so I did.

"It depends," I said, "why do you ask?"

She went on to explain that she'd been to one of my funerals earlier in the day. She was the one who told me she'd like me to do her funeral. I'd said she might outlive me.

"What was that reading you did at the end?" she asked, "Was it 'Do not stand at my grave and weep'?"

I said no, it wasn't. I didn't say that I avoid using that reading because I don't like it. It's horribly sentimental and ends with a death denying "I did not die" (see below).

Several people had told her it was "Do not stand at my grave and weep". I wondered if they'd been to the same funeral.

I told her the lines I used at the end were by William Wordsworth. "Are you sure?" she asked. "Yes, I'm sure."

I said I'd send her a copy of the poem. Maybe then she'll believe me.


I Am Not There
Author unknown - ought to be ashamed of him or herself.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumnal rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there; I did not die.

No comments: