Good diet and medical science have added years to the (wrong) ends of people’s lives. More of us are living to great old age than ever before. The last 11.2 years of most people’s lives are now blighted by intensifying and multiplying severe chronic and degenerative illnesses.
Death is increasingly a lingering business of fading away, petering out, often in great discomfort. Dementia is on the rise. Leave-taking these days is turning into a very, very long goodbye and, more than ever, death is received, when it finally comes, as a blessed and merciful release.
This is influencing the way that those left behind feel about the need to hold a public funeral – at which there may be no more than a handful of people present. What more to say? What more to do?
It is quite different when a young person dies – or someone dies prematurely or tragically. People feel quite differently about deaths like these.