Wednesday, July 11, 2012

on funerals.

Ever noticed how everyone always says good things about a funeral? It was lovely. It was a beautiful service.

Andrew gets more positive feedback from funerals he conducts than from anything else he does at church.

I've often wondered why this is.

Having taken part in a couple of family funerals in recent weeks, here are my thoughts.

1. People give good feedback about funerals because once they are done they are done. No one eagerly anticipates a funeral. The death part is horrible. The days post-death, organising the funeral, are stressy and tense. But we're so glad once the funeral is over! The relief that we got through it makes us enjoy it in retrospect.

2. People say good things about funerals because if the service is conducted 'well', death is put back in a box and buried. We don't have to think about it so much anymore.

3. People say good things about funerals because it feels good to cry and laugh with others. This is one of those rare situations where it's okay to be emotional. You can let it out. For those away from the centre of the loss (i.e.. those for whom the loss if sad, but not tragic), post funeral you can feel slightly high on the hormones released.



  1. 4. Because often, a funeral conducted by a genuine Christian is nowhere near as cliched and rote as it appears on TV, and people are surprised by the reality of our compassion and our hope. We've got a woman at church who came to a funeral I did about three years ago, and heard something she didn't expect. She still hasn't caught on, but she knows now that there's something to catch.

  2. More positives than for weddings? Perhaps our expectations for funerals are low - we dread them and expect them to be depressing and then we find that they are not because firstly they provide hope, secondly everyone says kind things about the deceased and expresses their love for them, so we go away feeling hopeful and with a strong awareness of the bonds between us, and thirdly because at a funeral we are allowed to face our own deepest fear (the fear of dying) and find ourselves capable of holding its gaze.

  3. Because they don't know what else to say - they don't know if the minister knew the deceased personally but they assume that s/he did. Not wanting to say something unkind, just in case, they may say that they 'enjoyed' it as something to say even if they didn' offence to Andrew or any other minister.

  4. I can imagine being very thankful to the person who ran the service because they didn't really have to come this close to our pain but they did, and helped us through it.

  5. Maybe it is the "power of positive thinking" at work.. in the face of sadness and death people want to make the most of any opportunities for positivity..?