Avril at Romsey

… and Lancefield and Riddells Creek and Mount Macedon

Funeral number four

I really enjoy taking funerals. I’m trying to work out whether that makes me weird and strange, or whether it’s a good thing given my job.

Anyway, this morning’s funeral was the fourth since I started this job. Like all the others, it was an elderly person who’d died of natural causes – I’ve been lucky in my funerals so far. Lots of grief; the woman’s husband, who suffers from dementia, was grieving his wife of more than sixty years and his sadness broke my heart. I ended up directing most of the service to him, trying to be as comforting as I could. But there was no sense that this death was untimely or dreadfully tragic.

There’s something satisfying about seeing a coffin lowered into the ground, and throwing earth onto it with the words “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection”. It seems to sum everything up; the finality and tragedy of death and the hope that we hold.

Went to have lunch with the family and had one of those minister-type moments. One person was introducing me to another; second person said to me, “Oh, are you a neighbour, too?”; first person said, “No, she’s the minister”; second person said, “Oh, I didn’t recognise you without your clothes on”. (I was still wearing clothes – just not an alb.)

On the way to the church I had my first collision with an animal, either a wallaby or a very small, dark kangaroo. I’d slowed down when I’d seen it standing by the side of the road, so I wasn’t going very fast when it bounded in front of me. There was connection, but no damage to my car and by the way it then bounded off again I’m hoping minimal damage to the animal. I’m so glad I didn’t kill it, for many reasons including the fact that it would be embarrassing to arrive at a funeral in tears because I’d just slaughtered wildlife.

When everything was over, the service at the church, the service at the cemetery, the lunch at the house of one of the sons, I got into the car to drive home and turned the CD player on. My current music-to-drive-to is a live recording of Billy Joel (does that date me dreadfully) and the first lines that played were I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints; the sinners have much more fun – you know only the good die young. And I laughed.

It was a pretty short service, but I’m now absolutely exhausted. I do enjoy taking funerals, but, oh, they’re tiring!


November 28, 2007 - Posted by | Life, etc., Ministry, Pop Culture


  1. You never were one for mainstream tastes. (Though I suppose Billy Joel was mainstream once upon a time.)

    Speaking of death, ageing pop-stars and getting your clothes off, have you seen the glam reaper? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gG8FXAqoX1A

    Comment by Olivia | November 28, 2007 | Reply

  2. You know Avril that all the best music is played in Hell.

    Comment by Pete | November 29, 2007 | Reply

  3. Um….does this mean it would be okay for a minister to whistle “Always look on the bright side of life” at a funeral… ;0)

    Comment by Brendan | November 29, 2007 | Reply

  4. And Avril this albless streaking will lead to nasty rumours.

    Comment by Pete | December 1, 2007 | Reply

  5. “Always look on the bright side of life” is apparently among the top-10 most-requested songs at funerals (in Britain, perhaps): http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2007/s2104194.htm
    People like to ask for “Con te partirò” at weddings (the operaticky ballad made famous by Andrea Bocelli), even though it’s about saying goodbye, so is better suited to funerals.

    Comment by Olivia | December 1, 2007 | Reply

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