A funeral is not a community event. Official

Charles Cowling

If you didn’t catch Rupert’s delightfully unbuttoned comment on yesterday’s post, have a look.

The interesting thing about the death deniers is that they don’t just put their hands over their ears and count noisily to ten until you stop. Whether death is the Old Enemy or just a Disgusting Old Man, it certainly brings out the streetfighter in the citizenry.

Up in Morpeth the town council was recently asked if it would permit a humanist funeral to be held in a community centre. Councillor Derek Thompson had this to say on the matter:

“Funerals are not what the centres were intended for when they were established, they are to be used for community recreation and social and leisure events. Holding them would be an inappropriate use of these buildings and we have no duty to provide them for this reason, so I’m strongly against this. I would also be worried about the effect they could have on people turning up for the next event after the funeral, whether it’s a bridge club or a children’s party.”

Whether the applicant had been a paedophile ring or a witches’ coven, you wonder if it would have elicited greater disapprobation.

Read the sorry story here.

5 thoughts on “A funeral is not a community event. Official

  1. Charles Cowling

    It has long astonished me how clever we have become about eliminating the visibility (that is to say, the reminders) of death in our modern world.

    This has not happened only by chance and greater competition for space from "life enterprises" – there is deep subconscious death denial at work here, manifesting itself from the individual through the family and up to the institutions such as city planners etc.

    Yet this aberration is of no real importance. I don't want to sound like a prophet of doom, but when death is denied, or pushed forward a few years by health care, it does not disappear or experience a reduction – it merely accumulates behind the dam, like water that is not allowed to flow naturally to the sea. At some point, the dam breaks or overflows and death become visible again with a vengeance.

    We would do well to address this issue now, attempt to let some of this natural flow occur – practically by rethinking our health care strategies and psychologically/spiritually in our homes, churches and city squares.

    Charles Cowling
  2. Charles Cowling

    The underlying assumption is that a funeral is a horrible, distasteful, distressing event that should be hidden from public view. Rather like an execution.

    Is this how people want to see end of life ceremonies? Someone has obviously been getting it wrong for a very long time.

    Charles Cowling
  3. Charles Cowling
    Charles Cowling

    I do like to leave the comments column to others. But I've just got to jump in and shout, 'Hear, hear!' But I find I just can't shout it as loudly as I'd like.

    Brilliant, Claire. Incontrovertibly right.

    Charles Cowling
  4. Charles Cowling
    Claire Callender

    Digressing a little. What I find so upsetting is collecting a body from an old folks home where the management banish all the other residents back to their rooms and shut the doors or herd them all into the dining room so we can sneak out with the dead person unobserved. This happened last week again, and I overheard the manager talking to the staff and it was obvious that no one knew that this women had even died yet. I hate it, all the other residents must know this is how it will be for them too. I think they should all line the corridor as we wheel them out, shouting their goodbyes and stand waving from the front steps as we drive away with their housemate.

    Charles Cowling
  5. Charles Cowling
    Claire Callender

    There is a beautiful old hall near us which is used for concerts, dances, readings, weddings and the like. we asked about holding funeral ceremonies in it, the manager was horrified, 'you can't have a wedding one day and a funeral the next people won't like it', they do in churches we said, puzzled. That said we use our local civic hall and bring the coffin out across the town square in the middle of the day with no problems, and on Saturday we held a funeral at a hotel that holds weddings, and we have used a football clubhouse more than once. It seems to us it's all down to the emotional development of the person who runs the place.

    Charles Cowling

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