St.Margaret's News August 2020 - Page 10

instructions concerning the funeral and the deceased person’s preferences. A funeral must, of necessity, follow a death. The lifeless body, the mortal remains, need to be disposed of, albeit with sensitivity and respect. There are clear laws regarding how and where this can be done. Funeral directors are the specialists in this area and they can take a lot of the worry and stress out of making funeral arrangements. The overwhelming majority of funerals are either burial or cremation, the latter being the more popular at present. Funerals can vary from being a small, private family affair to a huge public ceremony, either religious or secular so the cost can vary considerably. Arrangements can be made in advance to minimize financial stress for the relatives at the time of a funeral. This may take the form of a prepaid funeral, my preference, or funeral insurance. Inevitably there is sadness at a funeral because it marks a permanent parting, a time of grieving, which is a natural and normal emotion, especially for family and close friends. The funeral is an essential part of the grieving process. It is an opportunity to honour the deceased and to formally say goodbye and to recognize the reality of the situation. It can also be a time of celebration and thanksgiving for a life well lived. After the passing of another friend of mine his family decided to have a small family-only cremation with no public funeral service. I respect the family’s right to make such a decision but I must say that I felt disappointed; I liked and respected the man very much, he was a good friend, but I was not able to honour him in the normal way. My view is that funerals are more for the family and friends than the deceased. It helps them prepare for the future without the presence of the departed one. When someone close to us dies we are saddened, not just for them because they are no longer alive, but for ourselves as well because we have lost a part of our own life, our relationship with that person has ceased. They have taken part of us with them and we are the poorer for that. But there is another side to the coin. The deceased person leaves behind something of themselves – a legacy, memories, hopefully happy, positive memories and we are the richer for that. When my parents died I felt, at the time, great sadness and a sense of loss but soon came to the position of remembering them with joy and gratitude for the lives they had lived, the quality of the people they were and the impact they had on my life. One can’t avoid the question that philosophers and theologians and billions of ordinary folk have thought and talked about since the beginning of human life on this planet: Is there anything beyond the grave? Is there life after death? If so, what form does it take? Archaeologists tell us that many, perhaps most, civilisations and cultures, dating back to very primitive times, have believed in an after life of some sort. This is a matter of belief and faith; it’s a theological issue that I have not attempted to address here. Suffice to say that mostly people who have a faith, and there are many varieties, who have hope and expectations of something beyond the grave, are able to face the prospect of death more easily than those who don’t. For my part, as a practicing Christian, I live in the hope that there is something beyond the grave. Jesus said that he was going to prepare a place for us. I don’t know what form an afterlife may take (I certainly don’t want to live St Margaret’s News 10 August