While I’ve always managed to find something slightly amiss with previous funerals (that is, aside from someone I cared about having died), I’ll be surprised if I ever attend another as well-planned and appropriate as this one. It was a touching and charming service, reflecting the personality of the deceased: cheery (relatively), uncomplicated, warm and gentle. She had specified no party, flowers or cars, so there was little in the way of ceremony, just genuine remembrance.
This is a personal thing, but I have a strong dislike of “funeral poetry.” It always strikes me as overstated and designed to generate tears. It’s one step up from the flowery verse you find written in the majority of sympathy cards. Buying one last week, I spent a lot of time rejecting all but the one which simply said, “Thinking of you,” which was all I wanted it to say. I’m aware that some take comfort in flowing poetry on such an occasion, but I think there's room for getting the message across just as sincerely without going overboard with fancy phrases.
So I was relieved when the poems read on Wednesday were less sentimental and more reflective. Words from the deceased’s relatives were touching and honest, and the deceased’s choices were to the point without being overwhelmingly emotional. There were still tears in the chapel, but for the right reasons.
All told, it was a dignified and fitting goodbye, in which sparing use of words made a greater impact than any expansive poetry or prose could have done. It’s the only funeral I’ve been to that I’ve really appreciated, probably because I could relate the words to the person I knew. Afterwards, I learned that others felt the same.
Some won’t go to funerals because they want to remember the deceased as they were in life. I certainly have some sympathy with this stance, but last Wednesday reinforced my memories rather than eroding them - and there you have the power of some well-chosen words.
This one’s for Sue. RIP.