Taking the ‘fun’ out of ‘funeral’

There was a time when dying was a fairly straightforward sort of business.   

There was no trick to it – you simply stopped being alive. That was it. Often, very little thought went into it, and that was understandable because (in most cases) it was pretty much beyond your control. 

That’s all changed now. In these enlightened days of the twenty-first century, we’ve reached the point where you can’t even look forward to resting in peace, in peace. What’s more, it seems there is this desperate need for you to be constantly reminded of your impending demise. 

Even with everyday pursuits like sitting down in the afternoon to watch Countdown, armed with a digestive biscuit and a cup of milky tea, you’re unable to escape it. And this is mainly due to the fact that the advertisements that surround the programme – being targeted for an older audience – are all about spurring you on to do the decent thing and buy a funeral plan

Some old character actor (who hasn’t had a decent gig since a guest part in an episode of Bergerac in the 1980s), has been dusted down and pushed into a fawn cardigan, to stare intently into the camera and tell viewers how they can go about getting some peace of mind when they’re dead. 

According to these adverts, it is now considered a terrible faux pas to leave your funeral arrangements to someone else. Society has reached the point where the simple act of shuffling off the mortal coil is now seen as terribly selfish – unless you’ve arranged the venue, bought the casket, had a plot dug, filled in the paperwork and given the funeral party at least two weeks’ notice on the date.   

But, surely, this is all wrong? After all, what’s the point of grieving relatives if they can’t perform these duties for you? Giving them something to do was once considered a final act of kindness… 

How many times have you been at a funeral and been forced into an awkward dialogue with some lip-trembling relative of the deceased and mumbled something as trite as: “How are you doing?” Only to hear in response: “You know. Keeping busy.” 

If you deprive your family of these duties, it also means there’s a certain finality to your death. What I mean is, if you have a tightly-choreographed funeral arrangement – there’s no element of surprise. Personally, I’d prefer to leave mine a bit more open-ended. 

I have simply no idea what ghastly ideas my loved ones will have come up with on the big day – but I can be sure that they will definitely turn to the rest of the appalled congregation and assure them that whatever they’ve arranged on my behalf was definitely what I would have wanted. 

Will there be some half-arsed rendition of Auden’s Stop All The Clocks? Or will Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On be played out at nauseating volume as everyone scurries off to the pub

I don’t know. But at least it’ll be fun finding out.

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~ by wordwrites on April 14, 2011.

2 Responses to “Taking the ‘fun’ out of ‘funeral’”

  1. I would have thought that the one positive thing about dying is that it pretty much guarantees peace of mind. Unless you believe in all the that hell business.

  2. I would like to congratulate Wordwrites on their first year anniversary! And what a long strange trip it’s been. You’ve taken on the big boys (Walter Sickert, Aaron Kosminsky, William Henry Ireland, Neill “Doctor Pepper” Cream) and come through smiling and smelling of manly musk. Here’s to other years – and all who sail in you.Hurrah.

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