Writing in the spring 2013 issue of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management Journal, the editor, Bob Coates, writes:
What was once the abnormal is now the normal with respect to funeral ceremonies on our premises …
Less enamoured, however, may be the funeral director. Some may find the frankness of discussion, particularly over the internet, uncomfortable. Some, traditionalists, may not welcome what they regard as avant garde, wacky, eccentric or irreverent sendoffs. Perhaps there will be a dwindling demand for their opulent vehicles and, dare we say it, even their services? For them it certainly means previous attitudes and customs will be routinely challenged and that they will need to adapt to their clients’ wishes, even if this means, on occasion, leaving the cravat, top-hat and silver-knobbed cane in the wardrobe.
This set me thinking some more about Richard Rawlinson’s post about what we wear to funerals these days. Because, whatever dress code is specified, a lot of families still seem to want their undertaker to look like a proper trad hush-and-awe undertaker, however anomalous and anachronistic s/he may look amid a sea of red or pink or onesies. So it’ll be a while before the toppers and wagglers are consigned to the wardrobe. Is this how you see it?
And then there’s the music that people like to play at funerals. Very often there’ll be an Always Look On The Bright Side sort of song, especially at the end, an anarchic song which seems to raise a single digit towards… who or what? Death? Convention? The digit is identifiably irreverent and humorous. But also defiant. How much anger does it also convey?
Is it that people feel that the individuality of their funeral is more effectively and more mischievously/iconoclastically expressed in the context of a conventional funeral? A trad FD benchmarks the departure from the norm?
Is it that people feel that their FD would be reluctant to participate? We note that a FD like Linda Blakelock of Divine Departures customarily enters into the spirit, and that her clients like it.
It’s not as if undertakers who decline to wear Liverpool shirts poop the party. But perhaps they might consider parking the cod-Victorian fancy dress when they see what course a funeral is taking at the planning stage without waiting to be asked?
There may be an issue around relevance here. If so, it trumps tender and protective feelings towards the dignity-drenched, po-faced traditions of the Ancient Order of Funeral Undertakers & Upholders. If your Goth fancy-dress sets you apart, it may not be long before it casts you adrift.