Eat up your greens

Charles 6 Comments

GFG hero Thomas Long questions the value of happy funerals.

“To start at the end – to start at the celebration … without processing the sadness, jumps over steps and in effect paralyses us … If one really wants to be sure that one will remain sadder for longer than necessary, then pretend to be too happy too soon.”


  1. Charles

    Even in half an hour, an effective funeral can and should take people through the painful truth of goodbye as well as the joy of having known someone you love. Miss out the first bit and the second bit is a danger to grieving well.

    You surely can’t really celebrate someone without also grieving for them.

  2. Charles

    Brilliantly put and so succinctly.

    Thomas expresses something I have felt for a while about many modern funerals. The originally Humanist term ‘celebration of life’ seems to be what a lot of people ask for these days and I think this misses a significant element of the healing opportunity. A well constructed funeral ceremony will include, and does not shy away from, the dark before the dawn.

    Is being sad and showing our grief the new taboo?

  3. Charles

    I think what may be happening here is a misunderstanding of the term ‘celebration’. As the meaning has changed over time. It is not something that is necessarily unrelentingly joyful. The meaning includes the idea of ‘acknowledgement’…but I’m not sure ‘Acknowledgement of Life’ is a phrase that would catch on!

  4. Charles


    A colleague of mine in Western Australia (I live on the east coast) just sent this link to me. I am a Funeral Celebrant (civil) and recently at the Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants conference, I spoke on this very topic, asking the question – has the pendulum swung too far the other way? We are almost making people feel guilty if they grieve! Acknowledging loss is equally as important as celebrating life!

    I believe in Australia that we have to find the balance and the sooner the better! As a Funeral Celebrant trainer, I strongly emphasise the importance of loss in a funeral ceremony to my students. Grief is a hard enough journey without putting more pressure on grieving families.

    Well said Thomas Long!

    Robyn O’Connell CMC, Dip FC, MC
    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne

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