A beautiful story for you today – one you’ll have to listen to.
It’s a BBC World Service programme about an Amsterdam civil servant, Ger ‘Gerry’ Frits, whose job it was, til his retirement, to arrange and hold funerals for people, all kinds of people, who have nobody. “You must like people, love people, and you do that for each other in a community. You do that.”
Frits is a stickler for good form. He insists that the funerals he holds are the same anyone else would have. So: every funeral must have fresh flowers, four bearers, three pieces of music, respect and someone to say goodbye.
And a poem. Written by Frank Starik. He was so impressed by Frits’s work that he has been working with him since 2002. And he has started something of a movement among fellow Dutch poets. Frits would, at first, give Starik no information about the dead person which might lead him to make judgements of that person or their circumstances.
‘Lonely funerals,’ they are called. And the object is to return stories to those who have lost them.
You can download the programme as a podcast here. Highly recommended.