Firstly, forgive me… But I’m blunt. So that out of the way, here’s what is to happen when I die.
1 – Don’t wait for my whole family from across the universe to gather. I’m a man of faith and death is just one last step into the fullness of life for me. I know funerals are closure and absolutely passionately believe in them, but don’t wait! If you’re not there for my funeral, say mass for me or have masses said!
2 – You better have my body at the funeral. The new custom is not to have the Body of the deceased present, because ‘I couldn’t handle it, Father.’ Rubbish. Get over your packaged meat mentality. If I meant something to you, I meant it as more than a thought – I hug, I shake hands, I gave you the Body and Blood of Christ in my hands. I am real… I don’t cease to be real in death, just a little less together.
3 – I don’t like clowns. Seriously. They traumatise me. Some Undertakers behave like clowns. Clowns like Crusty in the Simpsons… or even worse, the Boss in the Simpsons. Rubbing hands. If I am real and dead, then death is real. Treat me normally! Undertaking is a noble profession, not one for clowns!
4 – Music. You know me. I will HAUNT you if you sing Amazing Graceless and The Lords my shepherd. Really. If you know me, you will love my love for great music. Please respect me… I wont let you play ‘Burn baby Burn’ in the Church for the exit song of your uncles cremation, so respect the Church. this is not a drive by.
5 – Preacher. Preach the Gospel of Resurrection. Not you. AND definitely not me! This priest has sat through too many lies for you to tell more about me. I am but a servant of the Lord, gone home to the Master…
6 – and no. no.no. memorial service, unless you want to be haunted. forever.
So 7am. That’s the time for workers to depart. and I’m but a worker.
Now – why this tirade? I’ve lost count of the number of funerals I have done. Most are simple, beautiful and healing. Some are spectacularly painful, like the funeral of my close friend, Fr Lionel Sham, murdered for being too nice. And then there are the extravaganzas, the ‘Smile and wave, Father’ moments all I want to do is run screaming for the hills as the person I knew is not the person being eulogised and canonised… bleg.
Funerals are hope, Resurrection. Pain. Fear. Human. Lets not turn them into insincere circuses with their own cast of clowns.