Random thoughts on Prostate Cancer, Voluntary Euthanasia, Local Shared Ministry, and other miscellaneous interests.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
A Good Funeral
I don’t go to
many funerals these days —my cancer medication makes me excessively tearful and
that is not a good look when it doesn’t reflect genuine emotion at a
funeral—but yesterday we attended one that gladdened my heart.
Of course the occasion
was imbued with the Christian faith of the lady and her contemporaries. The things
read and sung were her choice and well chosen. But, in these days of lengthy
funeral contributions from all manner of relations and friends and even
ordinary attention-seekers, what struck me was that her adult children declined
to offer their individual spoken thoughts. Rather, they crafted a comprehensive written tribute which was read by the celebrant just as they
wrote it. It was lucidly informative and touchingly intimate. The only other
contributions, prepared carefully by a family member and her congregation were
significantly distinctive and memorable. Her life was adequately and
beautifully reflected in this celebratory part of the funeral service.
something like a committal, the celebrant turned to the family and spoke
specifically to their need to deal with the gap left in their lives. They
would, he said, be moving through “deep waters”. He urged them to “take it easy” and suggested that grieving may
be expressed in love. But he warned that anger
might be expected and would be best met with compassion and understanding. He
seemed to be urging them to be accepting of their different levels and timing
of acceptance of their loss. Caring for each other they could “allow loving to
I wish that I
could recall all the significant phrases that lit up this short section to the
service. But whatever they were, there was communicated a profound awareness of
the reality that seems to be so often missing in funeral celebrations: someone
has died and a great hole is left in the lives of the bereaved. A good funeral
can set the stage in which that huge loss can begin to be explored and dealt
with. And the celebrant can then genuinely give an assurance that “One day, you
will think and talk about your loved one without pain.” Any funeral celebration should include this dimension. Thank you, Russell; it was well done.
Retired Presbyter of Methodist Church of New Zealand. Passionate pioneer in Local Shared Ministry, consultant in small churches, publisher of niche market books, producer of prosumer video, deviser of murder mystery dinners and former private pilot.
I trained for the Methodist Ministry at Trinity Theological College and eventually completed MA, Dip Ed as well.
Bev and I married just before my first appointment in Ngatea where our two children arrived. We went on to Panmure and Taumarunui. Longer terms followed at Dunedin Central Mission and the Theological College. During this time I was also involved as co-founder and second national President of Family Budgeting Services and adviser to the (government) Minister of Social Welfare.
My final four years were part-time, developing the first Presbyterian or Methodist Local Shared Ministry unit in this country and promoting the concept overseas.
Retirement has brought a whole lot more opportunities and challenges. We are now living in our own villa in Hibiscus Coast Residential Village.