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.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Getting it right

Just been reading Gloriamundi's latest blog post, about whether to choose burial or cremation. I've left instructions with the anatomists that they should bury what's left of me when they've no further use for it, assuming they accept my body bequest in the first place.

Gloriamundi asks, "What price on getting such things right?" Trouble is, things don't always go right. Sometimes it's someone's fault, sometimes it's not. As long as things haven't gone horribly wrong, whatever happened might become part of a family's story, told and retold, about the day you buried Dad, or Gran, or whoever, while you wonder what he or she would have said about it.

There's a green burial site near here where I've conducted a few funerals. One was for a man whose family had prepared a celebration around his grave, with anecdotes, tearful goodbyes, lovely poems, and gentle jokes about his idiosyncrasies. It was to end with an Irish piper, a friend of the family, playing a lament as the coffin was lowered. I said the words of committal, the piper started to play, and the bearers started to lower the coffin. It was a rectangular cardboard coffin, not tapered as most coffins are, and it soon became evident that the grave wasn't big enough. There was a lot of fiddling about and suppressed huffing and puffing, but it was no use; the coffin was stuck. As the piper continued to play, the bearers had to give up and leave it wedged in place at a wonky angle. I don't remember what I said, but everyone laughed and exclaimed that he'd have enjoyed the joke, before they drifted away. An embarrassed funeral director, who had a reputation for making mistakes, stood looking at the coffin. He'd supervised the grave-digging and supplied the coffin, so he couldn't blame anyone else. Maybe he ought to buy a new tape measure, I suggested. He didn't answer.

That was a case of human error. On other occasions, things have gone wrong for reasons beyond anyone's control. Snow, rain and wind can all play a part in funeral ceremonies. There's not much you can do about any of them. Just wear sensible shoes, and hope for the best.

4 comments:

gloriamundi said...

Irish pipes - now there's a fine sound for a funeral!
Well, as we know, anything can and occasionally does happen at a funeral - maybe I should add a tape measure to my travelling bag....
Normally I'd consider a bit of a hail storm as something going wrong at a burial, but that day, it just seemed right. Mind you, I was keen to get a couple of very elderly and infirm people off the hillside and next to a cup of hot tea before someone had to dig any more graves. I expect you know the Freddy Randall joke, to old chap at funeral "How old are you then?" "94." "Eeeh, there's not much point in tha goin' 'ome at all, then, is there?"

Margaret said...

As I now come under the "elderly and infirm" heading, I'm not too keen on inclement weather.

Good joke.

Anja021netteC_021Restrepo1 said...

想要推動天下,先要發動自己。.............................................

Margaret said...

The last comment translated as "The wish impetus world, must start itself first." No idea what that means, sorry.