FUNERAL RITES

Having foolishly remarked last week that I liked wearing black and looked good at funerals, I found myself this week on the island of Arran attending the burial ceremony of a much loved friend.   The lady had led a long and fulfilled life, and had said to me some months ago that she was content to go, yet we who remained felt grief and sorrow that she had not been granted a few more years or months (in comfort) amongst us.

As you become more mature, you pass through stages of your life.   In your youth, you attend weddings.   Later, perhaps, christenings.      You progress to the weddings of your own children and the children of friends and relatives.   Regrettably however as your years accumulate, you attend more funerals.

While obviously funerals tend to follow a set pattern which ends with the committal one way or another of the body, they are also surprisingly diverse.   The person almost invariably dies as they have lived, and their funeral (if it was directed according to their wishes or those of persons who knew and loved them) reflects their lives in ways both obvious and subtle.

The funeral on Arran had I think been directed by the deceased lady specifically to comfort and console every mourner and it was one of  the most uplifting rites of passage I have ever attended.   There was a sense in which each and every mourner, from the chief to the most minor, was warmly welcomed and appreciated.

Sometimes one attends funerals when the organisers have scores to settle; or use the occasion to display their wealth, power or talent.    ‘We will be the chief mourners and everyone will be looking  at us,’ as someone once said to me.     I appreciated that apart from a brief mention of the widower, no particular mourner was named, no list of relatives;  and although it is sometimes good to hear contributions from various persons, on this occasion only the minister (a lady) spoke, and this was soothing.   She spoke sincerely and warmly of the deceased, and certainly so far as I was aware, every word she said in praise of our friend was true.   I had always been aware that the lady possessed a deep and vibrant personal faith, and her choice of hymns was reassuring and faith affirming.

There was a suggestion, slipped in so swiftly and briefly that you might not have noticed it, that this lady had forgiven anyone who might feel in their secret heart that they had anything to be forgiven for, and that they should now go on their way in peace.   All this was conducted, as the lady’s own life had been, with modesty, tact and grace.     Each member of the family was warm and giving, and you realised that not only had they inherited their parents’ generosity of spirit, they had benefitted from having such a lady as their mother.

The minister conducted the service, the full burden of which fell on her, with competence, sincerity, a proper Christian spirit, and with all her personal feelings suppressed so that it was only as she drew her remarks to a conclusion that you could see that she too had loved the departed and what an effort the occasion had cost her.

I felt grateful for having had the privilege of knowing our friend, and that in her leaving us she enfolded each one of us in a loving embrace.

May we all depart with her grace.

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About adhocannie
I am a good natured woman with a long memory and a swift tongue. I like loooking at things and thinking about them. Also food, clothes, travel, reading, sewing. I try to see the ridiculous in things, but sobriety of reflection keeps edgting in. I have husband, children, grandchildren, friends... I feel rich in things that matter. I am a happy exile. I like writing. I do not like talking about me (though I do.). You willl be much more interesting.

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