(image from goodfuneralguide.co.uk)
We didn't really know what to expect, whether anyone would turn up, how it would pan out. It was unexpectedly well-attended as the family are an extensive local clan, but as large families sometimes are, it was rather a disjointed group of factions, and some went to the burial but not on to the pub afterwards, some went to the church and the pub but not the burial, and we believe that some were just going to come on later to the pub.
The heartbreaking part of the funeral for me was that the minister was not able to do the usual talk about the deceased - when and where he had been born, his life, his profession, his family, his hobbies and interests, his contributions, his legacy - because no one in the family had had a good word to say about him: perhaps they felt justified, because he seems to have had a troubled life and not been very kind to many people......but to leave the minister only able to say that the deceased had been a father, grandfather, partner and uncle was a bit of a challenge for our poor chap. He did very well, sharing some thoughts about the scripture passages, and sharing a poem about God's forgiveness, but it was a struggle for him.
From an outsider's point of view, the funeral varied from the more usual ones in that there was no order of service, only one hymn, no eulogy [as I have said], no limo behind the hearse. I understand that the grave will be very simple too. The family had organised flowers, and the coffin was just as most of the others I had seen recently.
This has opened my eyes to a different side of ministry and to how some families can react to death. All the funerals I have been to before have been for someone who has been much loved and will be missed, but this was very different, and I feel the need to reflect upon it for some time before I come to terms with it. Life really makes you think sometimes, eh?