A first

Today was my first solo funeral service and I was happy enough with how it went. I made (so far as I’m aware) only one verbal gaffe but it was a fairly minor one and not something that would be likely to cause upset. I managed to lop 10 years off the person’s age. I realised it was wrong as I finished saying it but correcting myself would have ended up with me getting tongue-tied, I think. Anyway, nobody commented but I’m sure they noticed.  I even managed to get some chuckles at the places where a humorous memory was recounted so I think that speaks well of the tone.

The timing was absolutely spot-on and I’m glad I looked up the running time of the song they wanted played part way through.

As everyone was filing out the church, the sleet and hail was coming past horizontally and it didn’t bode well for the cemetery. However, it stopped just as we arrived and held off just long enough to complete the ceremonies there.

So, in hindsight, would I do it differently at all? Probably not too much. Without the musical interlude the tribute would have needed to be a little bit longer. I probably had enough material to work with, but as I was going over it again I spotted a few gaps that I perhaps ought to have asked about. Not a problem give the slightly reduced time for the spoken tribute, but something to be aware of in future. I was also pleased to be able to accommodate the various requests of the family but made a mental note to check the lyrics of requested song tracks. Not a problem in this case, but again, something to bear in mind.

All in all I suspect this was a pretty easy introduction to funeral services.


4 responses to “A first”

  1. I’ve done the age mistake…. mercifully the deceased would have appreciated the error and found it funny. Not sure that a tribute needs to be expanded just to fill a space in the service to get it to an overall length. Granted, other things can be said but if what is said encapsulates the family memory of the deceased then that is all that is required. It shows that you listened and took in all that they were telling you. It was good to get a positive reaction to humorous recollections.
    You do seem to have a fixation about timing. I would suggest (and think you might agree) that you can be flexible with timings when you have a church service (which I assume this was, given the graveside element). The only time when inflexibility comes into play is at the crem, where staff would not appreciate overstepping limitations. Strangely, when family get involved they can become very selfish about how things are done. Mostly they are trying to do ‘the right thing’, but at other times this can overspill into something less than worthy, and can often cause upset to following services.
    Glad this first experience seems to have gone well.

  2. Hi David,

    Not really a fixation about timing, but I’m one of those people who needs to be punctual (ok, a fixation about timing). I appreciate a church service followed by graveside committal is less demanding on a schedule, but given the weather I didn’t want to prolong waiting at the graveside or to have the council guys hanging around. To be honest, I was less concerned about getting the timing ‘right’ and more interested to note that I had included all that I intended doing without either overrunning or having an awkwardly long wait.

    The missing info on the tribute was less an issue of padding and more just an awareness of ‘gaps’ in the biography. Not glaring ones, and not ones that necessarily ought to have been included, but just a mental note that I didn’t explore all that I might have.

  3. I note your pastoral concern for the Council workers….
    Over the years I’ve used a sheet of paper to make notes with (as I think I discussed with you and maybe even shared on your blog) and I base that on questions that I’ve discovered gets families talking about key moments in their loved ones lives.  Sometimes it requires more work to get the details (and sometimes relatives give you gold dust with s personal distillation of the deceased) but sometimes you are left with very little indeed, partly through a lack of family communication and sometimes they want to minimise what is said for a variety of reasons.
    The church/graveside option is the least structured of funerals and most flexible time wise and I always mention the possibility of abbreviating the graveside section if the weather is awful.

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