Friday, 13 December 2013

When's the funeral?

I have lived through some harrowing cremation services - and one burial - from the all singing, sobbing variety to the quietest, quickest stranger led service. I am haunted by the sight of a funeral manager pressing what to me looked like the "next" button at my father's funeral. I think the allocated time was twenty minutes in this busy south London crematorium. So when my partner announced that he and his family were opting for an unwitnessed cremation for his mother I didn't need much persuading that they were opting for the right thing. She was a woman with no religious views, no close friends, away from her place of origin and uncomfortable at social occasions. She would have approved of this approach. But people have been so caught up in the psycho babble around "closure" that they have convinced themselves that seeing a coffin in a room [including that symbolic movement of it to another place during the service - the tear jerking moment] and getting some stranger to spout your words about them helps them come to terms with their death. This has been so evident this week as  I have been responding to the automatic "When's the funeral?" and - when I have the energy - talking  about unwitnessed cremations. Quite a shock to people who have never considered this. And the idea of closure is firmly embedded. It is the next thought they have once they recover from the idea of not having this ceremony.

In the same way that our lives have been hi jacked to celebrate a commercial Christmas or halloween our deaths have been hijacked by the marketing - oh so subtly - of this witnessed ceremony and all the trimmings. Funeral companies are geared up in every sense for the big event. It takes some determination to actually find that there is a small and hopefully growing demand for something much simpler.

A blogger writing last year has researched the whole closure issue more academically and directs us to articles that examine it

Personally I do not want my last act on earth to be a polluting one so will opt for a woodland burial - but I would like it to be unwitnessed too. To wish for anything else would be self indulgence now that I know there is an alternative!

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting concept. I haven't heard of this before. I agree that funeral companies seem to pile on the expenses these days.