Friday, November 30, 2012

My Living Will


Another funeral today, a friend's mother, in her 93rd year. I hadn't known her for long and I certainly never knew her in her prime but she was a lovely woman, humourous, generous, always smiling and with a great zest for life.

Afterwards I said to Bert,

That went off very well don't you think?

And he said,

Sure don't funerals always go off well?

I got to thinking about that. Usually they do. But I have come across a few exceptions in my time.

Years ago when I was new to the funeral game I attended a service for one of the grand old dames of our parish. The chapel was packed. Suddenly there was a tremendous clatter and crash at the back and the priest suspended the ritual and rushed down the aisle. Turned out the old lady's nephew had suffered a fatal heart attack and, as everyone present agreed, no better place for it and handy to Father for the last rites.

There was a similar story about the doors when a fellow came back from the building in London to attend the funeral of his older half-brother. He took a turn at the wake and never recovered and to save time and money the family doubled up the funeral and buried them together.

The saddest funeral I ever was at was that of a boy of 17, the son of a work colleague. He was killed in a car crash where the boy at the wheel was consequently charged and convicted of dangerous driving. His family were great people but they were not particularly religious. In this country there are a lot of people who believe that a funeral cannot take place without the assistance of a member of the clergy. Someone, somewhere had gathered up an evangelical pastor to speak at the graveside. This man stood there and preached the 'born again' sermon. There was a great deal about 'sinning' and 'eternal damnation'. There was mention made that the unfortunate boy had not been 'saved' so we could all reach our own conclusions on that. There was not one word of comfort for the family. The poor child's mother was in a fainting condition and his older brother looked like he might choke the pastor. I'm sinner enough to wish he had.

I've never forgotten that. It must be a comfort, for those that believe, to hear priests and ministers talk of eternal life. But not everyone buys into established religion. My parents are both dead now and I do not (although I reserve the right to change my mind) feel that it would be appropriate for me to have a religious funeral. The parents would, if they'd outlived me, been devastated to have me buried outside the faith. But now there is no one who'd really care. Say a prayer for me if you wish but keep priests and ministers away from my graveside.

11 comments:

Cuidado said...

When I was a small child, maybe 6, we were at the graveside committal service for my mom's uncle. As the casket was being lowered into the ground (by hand like they did then, the deceased's daughter jumped onto the casket crying, "Don't go Daddy." It scared the bejesus out of me and made me decide at that moment never to be buried. I did not know of cremation at that time but insisted forever more not to be buried. I was 11 when I signed my first organ donor card thinking that if they cut me all up and put me in other bodies I would not have to be buried. Weird, eh.

Nelly said...

Wow! What a drama. Was she an adult woman?

That organ donor idea is pretty good. Seems logical to me.

Cuidado said...

Yes she was an adult woman, older than my mom. I've lost a kidney so could some day need a donor. One of my brother had a bone marrow transplant using another brother as a donor. It was 29 years ago so, he didn't make it. It has always been important to me way back though. Geez, it's like you're my therapist or something. LOL Have me wallowing in the past , looking behind the ghosts in the graveyard.

Nelly said...

I've a brother who was born without a kidney. A genetic condition. No one was aware until his wife became pregnant with a son who had none. The child was stillborn.

I've not carried an organ donation card for decades. I think now maybe my organs are too decrepit to be of use to anyone else.

Cuidado said...

I'm pickling mine so that they will still be good for use. LOL

Nelly said...

Me too!

Brighid said...

"There is truth in wine...and we're going to keep drinking til we find it..."
I don't want a funeral... just a great bonfire with everyone telling of my misadventures and laughing...

Nelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nelly said...

That sounds like an Irish wake Brighid. Except for the bonfire. Some of us keep those for political occasions when we burn flags and sing sectarian songs.

Keeping things topical - there are riots in our local town tonight. There may well be bonfires made of local businesses. Something about a flag. It's not very Season of Peace and Goodwill is it?

Brighid said...

We don't have a Season of Peace & Goodwill here in Calif'stan...
I would be forever thankful if Ms Clinton was a bonfire topper...

Nelly said...

Hillary is coming to Belfast tomorrow. She was in Dublin today. Caught it on the local news when I was catching up on the riots. apparently they were a bit piddly.