It’s Your Funeral.
This was written for the website of an Irish funeral director. It was a bit out of my “Writing about sport” comfort zone and took a long time to get started. Once I had a start the rest just fell out onto the screen. The piece was specific to Ireland but obviously the situation is as universal as it is possible to get.
My own Father died of cancer in 2010 and much of what I wrote here was influenced by the experiences of our family as we coped with his passing and all the banal bureaucracy that people have to go through following a death in the family. During his illness my Dad was very definite that he didn’t want to make any arrangements for the future, feeling that to do so would be tantamount to giving up on life, something which no-one who knew him would ever have accused him of. The downside of this however was a greater workload and strain on my mother and sisters. They handled it brilliantly but I think we all walked away thinking that we would quietly put a few arrangements in place for our own futures. “Just in case” you understand.
I am glad that this commission didn’t come up sooner as without the five year gap it would have just been impossible to get my head around this subject and talk to people without turning unto an emotional wreck. Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way.
Many people in my native Scotland and elsewhere would be familiar with the title of this piece. It is a phrase which is often proffered as a parting shot by someone less than pleased by your life choices. It is usually meant as a negative and the implication is that you have made your bed and must now lie in it.
When it comes to actual funerals however the title is no more than a truth that none of us will be escaping. It is a gentle reminder that if we want it to truly be our funeral; to reflect our lives and loves as well as possible then we should take some steps beforehand to ensure that the ceremony celebrates and honours our own memory as well as it possibly can.
Emotionally Empty Services.
How often have we left a church or graveside with a bit of an empty feeling inside? Wondering perhaps if we wandered into the wrong funeral by mistake as the ceremony could have been about anyone at all so devoid of personality did it seem.
There could be many reasons for a funeral service to seem a little “Insert name here” but often times the celebrants have to make up a service from a potted biography. They have to glean a few facts and stories from a short conversation with deeply upset family members du