Charles Cowling


Michael Sadgrove (@Sadgrovem)

18/10/2012 18:38

At funeral undertakers push coffin in & out of Cathedral in procession on a trolley. Don’t deceased deserve dignity of pallbearers any more?


Michael Sadgrove is the Dean of Durham Cathedral. Hat-tip: Tony Piper

10 thoughts on “Outraged tweet

  1. Charles Cowling
    Colin Fisher

    We always carry no matter how large the person and my bearers are more than willing to do so.
    If the person is very large we use 6-8 bearers awith no extra expense to the family.

    Charles Cowling
  2. Charles Cowling
    Ru Callender

    We employ no bearers, it is always the family who carry their dead. How can it fall to anyone else?

    Charles Cowling
    1. Charles Cowling

      Well, I suppose people do need external help when there just isn’t anyone else.

      Perhaps it’s just the way these patterns emerge, but in the last few months I’ve been involved in quite a few funerals where there has been only a frail widow/widower and one or two very elderly friends to attend the deceased. Where a person and their spouse are each an ‘only child’, with no children of their own, for instance, or have removed themselves/been removed from society for whatever reason. It happens. How much better to have a life leading to something like Elizabeth Smither’s vision…

      Charles Cowling
  3. Charles Cowling

    I think we may have seen this before, but it bears repeating:

    A cortege of daughters

    A quite ordinary funeral: the corpse

    Unknown to the priest. The twenty-third psalm.

    The readings by serious businessmen

    One who nearly tripped on the unaccustomed pew.

    The kneelers and the sitters like sheep and goats.

    But by some prior determination a row

    Of daughters and daughters-in-law rose

    To act as pall-bearers instead of men.

    All of even height and beautiful.

    One wore in her hair a black and white striped bow.

    And in the midst of their queenliness

    One in dark flowered silk, the corpse

    Had become a man before they reached the porch

    So loved he had his own dark barge

    Which their slow moving steps rowed

    As a dark lake is sometimes surrounded by irises.

    (Elizabeth Smither)

    Charles Cowling
    1. Charles Cowling

      sweetpea – this is beautiful. I have witnessed pall-bearers who were all women but on only one occasion. In fact it’s the only thing I can remember about this particular funeral.

      Charles Cowling
  4. Charles Cowling
    David Holmes

    This does seem the norm in certain parts of the country. In ours it would only ever happen if the deceased was exceptionally large – to maintain dignity, or if the family requested it.

    Charles Cowling
  5. Charles Cowling

    Tweets can be a good vent for outrage – bit hard to shout it out at the funeral for real perhaps? Though their very impetuosity can also be the downfall of the Tweeter.

    Charles Cowling
  6. Charles Cowling

    Begs the question about the propriety of tweeting in a funeral. O tempora, o mores!

    Charles Cowling
  7. Charles Cowling
    Ru Callender

    An absolute disgrace. We have never ‘trolleyed’ anybody in. It’s not Supermarket Sweep.

    Charles Cowling
    1. Charles Cowling

      No indeed, Ru. One of the most affecting moments at a funeral is when the coffin is raised on high, especially when it’s bourne by those who loved the person – their grief is often written over their faces, along with the physical exertion it entails. It has the feeling of connecting with centuries old ritual.

      But perhaps I am out of step with most people when I find myself not particularly worried by the thought of a coffin being trolleyed in either. It depends on the circumstances, as David says. And if there are people who would like to bear the coffin but are unable to because of physical difficulties, or lack of physical maturity, I think that using a trolley, so that they can stand in their places at each corner and do their duty as they see fit, it could be a positive aid to them.

      Charles Cowling

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>