The so-called traditional or Victorian funeral derives from a time when they did death differently, when people grieved differently.
It was characterised by hush and awe, ostentatious gloom and social pretension. It was an invention of the Gothic Revival and claimed, spuriously, descent from the medieval guild funerals devised and superintended by the College of Arms.
And that Victorian schtick (lite) is still, amazingly or not, what people want. Formality, military precision, archaic fancy-dress, steroidal motorcars, the whole aesthetic. Even though many people no longer dress themselves up particularly for funerals, not like they used.
Yet they still like things to be done ‘properly’, most people, even though the tenor of funerals these days tends to be celebratory and no longer magnificently sad. They still like to have a priest presiding, too, even if the theology they spout is just so much blather.
To those bien-pensant middle class freethinking liberals who mostly comprise the funeral reform movement it is a matter of some bewilderment that the new age of more meaningful funerals and a more contemporary aesthetic hasn’t got here sooner.
What’s the holdup?