Screw says no

Many celebrants will have had the experience of welcoming a convict at a funeral, together with the prison officer to whom he/she is shackled. Do, please, share your experience in a comment.  

In Australia, belt-tightening has led to a review of the cost of this service to the banged-up bereaved: 

The Department of Corrective Services plans to save more than $500,000 by allowing prisoners to virtually attend funerals streamed on the internet instead of transporting them to the service in person.

There is opposition to this, especially in the cases of Aboriginal prisoners, for whom attendance at funerals is a cultural obligation. 

The Inspector of Custodial Services, Neil Morgan, has some interestingly critical things to say, especially about virtual attendance. There are people out there who think that virtual attendance is the future of funeralgoing. It’s possible that, before long, bereaved people will be facing pressure from their workplace to pop into a quiet room, follow it on their iPad and get back to their desk. Here’s Mr Morgan:

“There can’t be closure to a person’s death until there’s been a physical attendance. You don’t attend virtually in my view, you either attend or you don’t. Have you ever given a hug to anybody over the internet? If you skype with people it’s nice to see them but it’s actually also sometimes quite distressing and difficult; there’s no physical contact available.”

Full story here. Hat tip to Beverley Webb. 

Requiem mass for Philpott children

Posted by Richard Rawlinson

Before they were arrested and charged with the murder of their six children in a petrol-fuelled arson fire in their Derby council house last month, Mick and Mary Philpott started planning a funeral at the Anglican Derby Cathedral.

With the tragedy making headline news, they chose this local landmark, rightly predicting a lot of public demand to attend. The couple also requested six double-horse-drawn hearses to carry the coffins, and expected to raise funding through public donations.

As it turns out, the Philpott parents are not allowed to attend the funeral of children, Duwayne, Jade, John, Jack, Jessie and Jayden, aged between 13 and five. As their trial continues, they will remain in custody without compassionate leave. People may be innocent until proven guilty but the police deemed the threat of lynching by vigilantes too great, and the children deserve a peaceful funeral.

But another twist in the story is that early reports naming Derby Cathedral as the funeral venue have now switched to a full requiem mass at St Mary’s Catholic Church on St Alkmund’s Way. It takes place at 11am on Friday, followed by a private burial at Nottingham Road cemetery.

The substantial St Mary’s Church is not their local church, although their local priest, Fr Alan Burbridge of St George’s Church, will be giving the mass. He baptised some of the children and is affiliated to their primary school so knew them personally. Fr Burbridge visited 13-year-old Duwayne in hospital, where he died of smoke inhalation two days after the fire.

Over £14,000 has been raised by volunteers who set up a fund to pay for the funeral and burials, including six horse-drawn carriages.

Editor’s note: the children’s funeral is today. 

St Mary’s, Derby

Death Row

On Texas’s death row, there are no contact visits at all– no hand-holding, no embraces.

There is a strange little ritual when a Texas prisoner who still has family and friends is executed: his or her loved ones rush to the Huntsville funeral home which holds the contract with the prison, to touch the dead body while warmth remains in it. Normally, it will have been over five years since it was possible to touch the prisoner at all.