The Good Funeral Guide Blog

Posthumous charisma

Monday, 12 January 2009

Photo by KQED QUEST on Flickr

Kathryn Flett wrote in this Sunday’s Observer about a funeral she went to. Her account is testimony to the value of a funeral. She says:

“The send-off was standing room only, with moving speeches, singing, essential tears, equally essential laughter and a cardboard eco-coffin covered in stickers and scrawled personal messages from family and friends which looked like the graffitied sarcophagus of a very cool king, which James was… is… remains… “

Sounds like a good one.

She goes on to reflect on the pulling power of funerals compared with the pulling power of other rites of passage — weddings, christenings, Bar Mitzvahs. These latter it’s easy enough to invent an excuse to skive, and still keep a clear conscience. But the funeral of someone we love is an unmissable event. Why is it that we feel so drawn to a funeral? A mere sense of duty wouldn’t suffice.

Ms Flett brilliantly pinpoints it. The reason we go, she says, is because of our “need to connect to those who will understand,” a need, she adds, which is “not to be denied.”

Yes, that’s it!

She concludes:

“It is a cruel irony that we are, if we’re lucky, only likely to attract all the friends we’ve dreamed of gathering together under one roof when we’re not even there to witness it.”

It is somewhat of a crazy irony, too, if we have greater pulling power dead than alive. But doesn’t it just say everything about the value of a funeral?

Read the whole account here.
See George Melly’s coffin (and read about his funeral) here.

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