Wednesday 21 July 2021

A Funeral

 Today I went to a beautiful and very moving funeral service. I mention this because funerals these days are so often disappointing events – relentlessly upbeat 'celebrations of the life'  – and do scant justice to the person we could once refer to as the loved one, before Evelyn Waugh's satirical novel made the phrase unusable. Today's funeral was for an old friend – or rather a young one, who had died in her early 50s, but whom I had first met some 30 years ago. We had once been very close to her and her family, but had lost contact in recent years as her life began to drift into a dark place from which, in the end, no one and nothing could rescue her. 
The funeral was that increasingly rare thing, a Christian service, with all the necessary depth that the spiritual element provides. There were prayers, a hymn, a reading (Mary Magdalen encountering the risen Jesus) and a well judged address by the vicar. But what made the occasion so special were the words – heartfelt, loving, honest and entirely fitting – spoken by her son and her ex-husband. How rarely anyone manages this well – especially when such difficult and complex feelings are in play – and yet both of these addresses were exactly right and intensely moving. This was a funeral to remember, and it did full justice to a remarkable woman who at her best gave so much love, warmth, kindness and happiness to her family and friends. RIP.

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