That modern death has failed to find its place on the continuum of ordinary life events is something we all recognise and more or less vehemently deplore. For most a funeral is a hermetically sealed, isolated (or devastated) worst-day-of-my-life episode rarely to be recalled, and only then with a shudder. We quarantine the bereaved and shoo them into the care of weird race of cool-blooded expatriates from another planet. Truly, a funeral is a para-normal and intensely private event with more than a touch of the hugger-mugger about it.
Feelings like this are echoed by a recently widowed blogger in Wales: “I found myself standing on stage introducing the Master of Ceremonies for the event – who was none other than the funeral director who buried R.
This situation was made all the more weird by the fact that he was wearing jeans and T-shirt, rather than his sombre funeral garb, sang in a rather excellent tenor voice and told a lot of slightly risqué jokes over the course of the evening. I am not sure what I expected a funeral director to do in his spare time, but it certainly wasn’t this.
But it didn’t end there. The other team performing this evening was led by the couple who own R’s burial field. They are lovely people, and made sure I was OK, but it was all very peculiar, standing there having a post-performance glass of wine with them.”
This being how it is, it was no surprise that there was so much media excitement yesterday about a brand new funeral photography enterprise, Funeography. The sub-text was Why on EARTH would anybody want a funeral commemorated with weepy snaps?
It’s a reasonable position, things being as they are, to take. I’ve just spoken to David at In Our Hearts Images in Lincolnshire. He and his partner Esther have been going for six months now and they’ve not exactly had the world beating a path to their door. For Esther this has been an insight into the Brit way of death. In Holland, where she comes from, they do it all the time. Until yesterday they were one of only three businesses in the UK offering the service.
If you’ve created something wonderful, that you’re proud of, you want to revisit it and share it. The only way to do that is to document it.
Laurel Catts in Sydney, Australia, is extremely proud of the send-off she gave for her son David. The funeral was filmed and posted on Vimeo. I posted it on this blog. Laurel emailed me this morning: “David was the most incredible person and we wanted the funeral to reflect his wonderful personality and generosity of spirit. Hence, I am so pleased that you thought the funeral service was a great and very moving send-off.” It was wonderful, wasn’t it? We wouldn’t have missed it for anything. Thank you, Laurel, for sharing it. You show us the way.
WARNING! This blog is about to transmigrate and inhabit a new server. The process of reincarnation may take a couple of days of suspended animation, but reborn we shall be. I can’t guarantee that the new flesh we put on will be incorruptible; indeed, it will probably look dispiritingly like the old. See you after the resurrection!