Quote of the day

Charles Cowling

 

 

 

One interesting fact I encounter is what constitutes a ‘religious funeral’. I have on a number of occasions met and prayed with distressed familes who have had humanist funerals because they thought that ‘non-religious’ meant C of E!

 

Comment in the Guardian here.

 

 

 

 

 

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sweetpeagloria mundiJenny UzzellTimWcharles Recent comment authors

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sweetpea
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sweetpea

TimW and Gloria, I assure you this really was said to me, and I was a little taken aback when the comment was made. But I’m not really shocked – it’s not the first time that this sort of desperate misunderstanding has come to light during discussions for a funeral, although it’s not usually in the form of such a bald statement! I think sometimes we assume a certain degree of cultural/emotional/spiritual/literary and musical understanding in our clients before we meet them. And mostly that is fine, because they have that understanding and all is well. But, once we have… Read more »

gloria mundi
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entirely agree – “that people are aware…” and particularly, that FDs are aware that there are more than just two supposedly polar opposites. The question for FDs is not “was he religious,” nor “are you religious,” it is: “What sort of funeral ceremony do you want?” It’s for the nearest and dearest to decide how to inexpert any wishes as expressed formerly, by the dead person, and to decide what would suit them. It’s all and only about the right funeral ceremony for these people. (I hardly need bang on like this to you Jenny, I’m sure, but it would… Read more »

Jenny Uzzell
Guest

And that’s it exactly…celebrants can and should be flexible but only within the boundaries that they themselves can be comfortable within. Its not as if a specifically religious funeral or a BHA funeral are the only options available. I don’t think its reasonable to expect a church to conduct a non-religious funeral or to expect a specifically Humanist celebrant to conduct a religious one. The important thing, surely, is that people are aware that religious and Humanist funerals are not the only two options available to them.

gloria mundi
Guest

Not corny, reassuring rather, since it shows you are not one of those implacably opposed to BHA celebrants – or any other kind that isn’t as they wish. You’re quite right of course, the BHA do discourage prayers, and readings which are scriptural, or “about,” in some way, God (or gods, or Krishna, or…) Their celebrants vary enormously, as one would expect. Some are more rigid and doctrinaire about all this, others are – much more flexible. Both sorts get criticised, from different perspectives. I don’t think the BHS is weird for taking the position they do. Why shouldn’t they?… Read more »

TimW
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Would it be corny of me to say that ‘some of my best friends are Humanists’? Decent people of good will they are too, but the institution – The BHA – I find pretty wierd because they do indeed discourage prayer and any readings which are not in line with BHA doctrine.

gloria mundi
Guest

I suggest, Mr TimW, you stop imagining what BHA celebrants do and ask them. I can only think that such a rash generalisation derives from an unhappy experience for you, and if so, that’s regrettable. None of the BHA people I used to know would dream of saying “you get what you are given here,” and many would – do – stretch a point, from their point of view, and include a hymn. But I guess it’s easier to make a polarising and inaccurate generalisation. It is a shocking statement, I actually find it difficult to believe – that people… Read more »

TimW
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It’s a shocking statement, and more shocking that i can just about believe it. Careless Funeral directors, but even more careless BHA ‘ministers’ – you can just imagine them saying ‘No, we don’t do prayer, and no religious readings either, you get what you are given here.’

sweetpea
Guest
sweetpea

But to go back to the original quote, I think there is also a lot of genuine confusion about what constitutes ‘religious’ content. I was asked a few weeks ago, in an otherwise non-religious ceremony, to include the Lord’s prayer ‘because it isn’t religious’. This happened an hour into my meeting with the family, and I think it would be a rare fd or arranger who would uncover this degree of subtle interpretation in their initial meeting.

Phoebe Hoare
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Phoebe Hoare

I agree Jenny, ‘alternative’ isn’t very satisfactory, and diamonds and fireworks weren’t what I meant (that can go in the sequel)! Exhibitions and events surrounding more personalised funerals are great but they don’t really educate people on a broad scale (I assume that the majority who attended these types of events are in the funeral industry; interested in the cultural, religious and social aspects of death; have been affected by the death of someone close, have been faced with the prospect of death themselves). Television or billboard advertising seems to be to be the most effective means of broadcasting ideas… Read more »

Jenny Uzzell
Guest

Somebody certainly should….but what is alternative about getting what you want. There is a lot of emphasis on ‘weird’ stuff like fireworks and diamonds and dare I say it even my beloved Viking Ship, because that makes good TV. What we need is someone to do a documentary on funeral directors with a bit of emotional intelligence and some listening skills. That shouldn’t be ‘alternative’!

Phoebe Hoare
Guest
Phoebe Hoare

Perhaps Louis Theroux should do a documentary on alternative funerals.

gloria mundi
Guest

An undertaker of my acquaintance simply says to the family “would you like me to phone the minister?” Thus leaving it to the family to make a request for something different. Confident people, who have already thought about funerals, will of course say no, that’s not what we want; less confident or less culturally resourceful people may well think that’s simply – what one does, what one should do. When all the finer points and discussions to be found in the GFG, Guardian etc etc are put to one side, we’ve still a long way to go before we can… Read more »

Belinda Forbes
Guest

Much more commonly, the bereaved are asked by the funeral director for their religion. They reply C of E and are then led to believe that they have to have a religious service. I have lost count of the number of families who thought it was compulsory to have two hymns and the Lord’s Prayer.