Thursday, June 29, 2006

Last Rites

Bit of an emotional roller-coaster this week: after the institution, with its promise of a new day, we said farewell today to my uncle whose funeral we attended in the Borders. It was good that the minister had known him well enough to speak of him with affection and understanding, and it was good to have a chance to meet my cousins again - even if, as we remarked, this only seems to happen at funerals. It's a source of pleasure to me that though (or is it because?) we rarely see one another we seem to gel so immediately, as if that shared childhood, the memories of our parents, feed into something we are hardly aware of until an event such as today. I may be biased, but I'm glad I have such an interesting and attractive bunch of relatives!

A thought about funeral rites: how important it is that we are given a framework in which to let our emotions work. I wonder what training clergy are given in structuring these public events - are they taught about the use of poetry, silence and music to allow people to unclench? A delicate job, and a very responsible one, to help mourners who may have been run off their feet organising everything (and everyone) sit for a space and just 'be'.

But what a satisfying thing to achieve!


  1. "But what a satisfying thing to achieve!" - I couldn't agree more!

    Funny u should write about the family thing and about only seeing each other at such times. Our family were saying the same thing at my Grandfather's funeral a couple of weeks ago. I too have an interesting family with lots of different people whom have lots of different stories, which is great!

    It was great to see them and from what you write, I'm sure you treasured their company. Just a shame about the circumstanes, eh?

  2. PS - Did I use 'whom' correctly there? I have decended into paranoia!

  3. Anonymous8:22 AM

    At Tisec we were taught nothing about funerals, although we did have one hour with someone from Cruse. Training on how to conduct funerals is left to your curacy so it all depends on what you see being done in that place. In my case, that meant following the words in the liturgy with no extras.

    However, 4 years in 'real' ministry has taught me to be much more creative. I gather poems, prayers, and all manner of things from different sources. Each one is different and I hope each is unique to the deceased.

    I think funerals are the most important parts of ministry. If you get it wrong it can affect a family badly for a long time. But if you get it right, it can ease the grieving process. And so I much prefer them to weddings!

  4. Duffy - the "whom" is not correct here, I'm afraid. If you had said "many of whom have lots of ..stories" it would be correct, but as you have written the sentence it is the subject of the verb "have" and should be "who"!

    Ruth - gosh. More on this later...... (she warned!)

  5. Thanks for that. At least I questioned... something must have clicked!