November 2015

Death, where is thy sting?

Well, they say that the only two things you can be sure of is death and taxes, so I thought I would talk about the former.

I am prompted to do so by a report which has just come out showing that funeral director charges have gone up over the last few years by 80%. Which seems to me to be quite a lot. The problem is, of course, that most people do not think of having to have any dealings with funeral directors until the occasion arises, and that is not always the best circumstance for clear rational thinking. So I would suggest that you might want to have a word with me well in advance and I can give my views on the service and charges made by the various funeral directors with whom I inevitably deal. There is quite a wide variation in both areas. And, of course, the people who work at funeral directors over the years change, and so the company which you dealt with over your grandparent’s funeral might not be at all the company which exists nowadays. 

And on the subject of planning ahead, I would extend that all aspects of funeral arrangements. I once had to arrange a funeral for a lady who had two children, one of whom said that she wanted to be buried and the other of whom said she wanted to be cremated. Now, I am always in favour of working towards a compromise, but there are some areas where that simply is not possible. And in this instance, the problem would have been solved if the lady had made it clear in writing exactly what it was that she wanted. And the same applies to the actual service. I have often sat down with families trying to cope with grief and saying things like, ‘I don’t know what hymns she liked’ or ‘I don’t know what reading he would have wanted.’ Well, the problem would not arise if all this had been written down in advance. And if this sounds macabre, in essence it is no more so than writing a will: and, just as with writing a will, it saves so much anguish and difficulty in the future. I am, of course, always happy to help with any aspects of this.

All that, I hope, is fairly impartial good sense. The next bit is more a matter of taste, and if my taste is different from yours, I hope you won’t take offence at what I say. One of the wonders of the churches here is the old Clodock churchyard with its wonderful array of beautiful headstone made of local stone. And there is a lot of local stone around which can be used, yet all too often, people choose granite which isn’t local and which - to my mind - looks hopelessly out of place. The churchyard regulations - which should be on display in all the churches - allow its use and I would never disallow it - largely because I am not allowed to! - but I would urge people when choosing a suitable headstone of people who have lived in this place to consider stone from this place as being the perhaps the most apt and attractive. But, if you really want to use granite, can I suggest you make enquiries from your mason as to where the granite is coming from, as a considerable amount of it is imported into this country from parts of the world where working methods and the care - and age - of the workers involved would not be allowed in this country.

 

So that is death. The next Newsletter is the double issue covering December and January, and so commemorating the time when all the world, according to Luke’s gospel, went to be taxed. Or not. Wait and see.


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