Is ceremony dying?

Posted by Richard Rawlinson

This seems a strange question just after economically-challenged Britain has hosted the Olympics, a no-expenses-spared ceremonial games that unites nations in celebration of sporting prowess.

But as the cult of individuality nibbles away at established social conventions, more and more people seem to be caring less for ceremony on a more intimate level. It didn’t seem particularly surprising when a woman of my acquaintance announced on facebook she’d just had a quickie marriage in a register office, adding friends would be invited to a bash some months after the honeymoon. I’ve also attended a memorial drinks party several weeks after a no-frills committal to which only family were invited to the crematorium. As we tucked into canapes, the only significance of the occasion was that we all knew the reason for being there, and our conversation reflected this fact.

Even those who opt for ceremony can sometimes offer reasons other than a deep emotional or spiritual need to mark a profound rite of passage. Some admit to getting little satisfaction out of the ceremony itself, saying it’s just the bourgeois thing to do—and a means to the end of gathering people together for that social jolly afterwards.

It goes without saying there are many ceremony options available, though more for marriages than funerals. If a register office is deemed too sterile to get married in and you don’t want a church ceremony, you can choose any number of venues from a beach on a paradise buy cialis online melbourne island to an aristocratic stately pile. If a crematorium is deemed too soulless for your funeral plans, the alternatives are more limited.

Some non-religious folk opt for a church funeral followed by a brief committal at the crematorium, seeing this as the best way to do justice to the dead through words and music before the final farewell. However, while some liberal churches allow risqué eulogies and secular music, traditional churches remind us we’re in a house of God. When in Rome…

Some again opt for graveside ceremonies in woodland cemeteries, seeing this as solving the time problem of the crematorium, but with natural surroundings which might appeal more than incense-scented churches, with their icons making visible religious purpose.

Meanwhile, others are opting to get the cremation over with swiftly so they can plan a ceremony with the ashes rather than the body. This can, of course, be anything from the aforesaid memorial party, with urn of cremains in attendance, to something more ritualistic such as the scattering of ashes in a favoured, natural beauty spot.

Time and money are important considerations in life, and both can be found more readily with pre-planning. But there’s more to meaningful ceremony than advance scheduling and financial planning. Whether it’s a hit-the-spot celebration-of-life speech or a requiem mass, providers must provide, and receivers must be open to their cathartic potential. It’s a two-way process. Or is apathy as relevant a consumer choice as any other?

The first f***

Posted by Vale

A favourite – even hackneyed – funeral song. The words really work though – and it’s the only possible accompaniment to this short video of some of the tributes at Graham Chapman’s memorial service. Was this – as John Cleese claims – really the first f*** at a memorial service?

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle
And this’ll help things turn out for the best

Always look on the bright side of life (whistle)
Always look on the light side of life (whistle)
If life seems jolly rotten
There’s something you’ve forgotten
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing

When you’re feeling in the dumps
Don’t be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle – that’s the thing

Always look on the bright side of life… (whistle)
Come on!
Always look on the bright side of life… (whistle)

For life is quite absurd
And death’s the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow
Forget about your sin – give the audience a grin
Enjoy it – it’s your last chance anyhow

So always look on the bright side of death (whistle)
Just before you draw your terminal breath (whistle)
Life’s a piece of shit
When you look at it

Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true
You’ll see it’s all a show
Keep ’em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you

And always look on the bright side of life
Always look on the right side of life (whistle)
Always look on the bright side of life (whistle)
Always look on the bright side of life (whistle)