Memory tables

Charles 17 Comments
Charles

 

We’ve talked recently here about shrines and memorials and remembrancing. Here’s a very nice idea from Shirley, over at the Modern Mourner, in a blog post titled Why can’t memorials be more like weddings? 

It’s a memory table. You put choice things, invested with meaning, on it — arranged beautifully, of course. What would you put on yours?

Not enough time to do this at a British crematorium, of course — not unless you bustle. But at any sensible venue it’d look great. Or at the do afterwards, whatever that’s called. 

Thank you for this aesthetic inspiration, Shirley!

 

Find the Modern Mourner blog here

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Paul Hensby
10 years ago

I live this idea, Charles and Shirley, and will mention in My Last Song…yes, I’m that sort of guy.
The do afterwards is called the gathering or the reception…at least it is in My Last Song.

Charles Cowling
10 years ago

Ooh, highly debatable, Paul. I mean, all right for some. There really ought to be a specific word for it. Wake is obviously completely wrong – it means watching over the corpse before the funeral.

It may be time to neologise old chap. Time to put your word-inventing cap on.We need a funeral-specific word.

sweetpea
sweetpea
10 years ago

I’ve always had a soft spot for Bunfight.

And it IS possible to have a memorial table at a crematorium, Charles. You just need a small collapsible table which you set up and dress in the vestry and then manoevre into place like a veritable greyhound when you’re ‘on’! But it’s even better at the Bunfight – larger table, and people can look at/through the things laid out. It can also provide a good focus at funerals/memorial services where there isn’t a body present, for whatever reason.

Charles Cowling
10 years ago

Bunfight is good.Like it!

Can you do that and candles, Sweetpea? I’d like to see you.

For the purposes of contemplation/meditation, I guess the bunfight is the place. (Do our American readers have the first idea what a bunfight is? Understand, the buns are not projectiles.)

Shirley
10 years ago

Thanks Charles for the mention! This made my day.

As an American reader, I have not yet heard of a bunfight. Now I’m curious …

Charles Cowling
10 years ago

A bunfight, Shirley, is sort of reverse British understatement. It’s ironic, of course. Any sedate gathering of people at which refreshments are present is a bunfight – the more sedate, the more of a bunfight.

Shirley
10 years ago

Wonderful! I can’t wait to use bunfight in a sentence.

X Piry
X Piry
10 years ago

What a fabulous idea. I shall recommend it herewith.

Thanks, as always.

Charles Cowling
10 years ago

When I think of all the great slang you Americans have given us, Shirley, it’s good to be able to give something back. I hope it will go viral.

sweetpea
sweetpea
10 years ago

Shirley, you are the American ambassador for this admirable word – let us know how you get on!

And yes, Charles, I’ve also crammed candles into the 60 second dash round the just-vacated-by-others room. But I neglected to say that you need a lovely attendant who is willing to go the extra mile in helping lug the table, a well-filled lighter and a devil-may-care attitude to slight singeing of the suit. Oh, and of course a naturally lithe and athletic build to speed you towards the door with but the mereist rose-blush of exertion on your dewy cheek.

Kathryn Edwards
Kathryn Edwards
10 years ago

I tend to refer to a funeral bunfight as The Ham Sandwiches. Especially if that isn’t the menu.

Charles Cowling
10 years ago

Love it, Kathryn. Very, inscrutably, British.

Sweetpea, I am in awe, I really am. I find candles quite enough — the hot wax problem at the end a nightmare. To be able to welcome people without fighting for breath, albeit with wisps of smoke arising from your raiment, marks you out as a Superpea.

David Holmes
10 years ago

I recently conducted a couple of Mormon funerals, (Church of Jesus Christ of the Latterday Saints). This seems to be something that they do – a life table and photo display wall. I was impressed.

Surely this is a very therapeutic thing to do at any funeral, even a crematorium service? A ‘double-slot’ can always be booked, if time is needed for those attending to get a proper look. If not, the table could be displayed at the wake?

Shirley
10 years ago

I like the idea of everyday objects as opposed to “important” items. Books, glasses, coffee mugs, items gathered from the desk, kitchen, etc. A tableau of the intimate and everyday, with a few items doubling as flower vases.

And thanks again for “bunfight”. I challenged some friends to guess what it meant and most of the answers were predictably lurid.

Jonathan
Jonathan
10 years ago

Well, to me the point of the table would be less as an ornament than as a focus for action. You announce to everyone that they can bring something to remind them of the dead person, so the thing evolves as the participants enter, you mill around instead of processing behind the coffin as you enter, and keep going back to it to see what others have contributed and to use it as a spur to chat – ‘oh, you remember that cracked teapot, I wonder who brought that, she would never throw it away but you couldn’t get a… Read more »

sweetpea
sweetpea
10 years ago

It doesn’t have to be whole shebang of a table, though. One of the most moving things I’ve seen was the simple placing of a little piece of good bread and good chocolate on the coffin, for a Frenchman who hadn’t been able to eat those things for a while, but to whose family those simple pleasures said everything about their husband and father.

gloria mundi
10 years ago

Lovely ideas here. I’m right with Jonathan on getting funeral ceremonies (as opposed to committals)out of crems, but actually, you could use his brilliant starter idea in a crem if you had to, IF ONLY more FDs would check the sort of funeral people want before they book the crem, and got a double time allowance pencilled in, tbc when you’ve spoken to the celebrant. Is that so effing revolutionary? (And yes you can get some crems to pencil in for a couple of hours before they let go of a slot. Whose bloody crem is it? The Council’s? Then… Read more »