August 11, 2014

"If people can’t be bothered to dress for the occasion, they are not welcome at my funeral" "

Theodore Dalrymple in Taki's Magazine

My problem with my own funeral is not how to pay for it: I will leave enough for even quite a grand affair, should anyone wish it. My problem, rather, is this: that if I were to die after my wife there would be no one to arrange it, and quite possibly no one to attend it either. Relatives are the great mainstays of funerals, and I have none within reasonable distance of wherever I am likely to die. As to my friends, they are scattered and lead busy lives; they probably won’t hear of my death for days or weeks after the date of my funeral, if any, has passed. This doesn’t worry me much: I don’t regard a large attendance at a funeral as young people regard large numbers of friends on Facebook, as the sign of a successful life.

I have no right to a religious ceremony, but I have observed that nonreligious ceremonies are embarrassing, with everyone hanging around and feeling that they ought to hug a tree in pagan fashion, thereby pretending that it is not so terrible a fate to die because the atoms of which one is composed are eternal and will be absorbed into the vegetation of the world, so that, in a sense, the dear departed hasn’t really died after all.

On the whole I would prefer to be buried than cremated, because I like cemeteries and feel they ought to be supported; my reason for my preference is not the same as that of an ordained priest of the Church of England of my acquaintance, who said that he wanted to give God as little trouble as possible on the Day of Resurrection. Nor do I like the modern custom, particularly strong in France, of turning up at funerals dressed casually, as if a funeral were merely a brief interval between a shopping expedition and a sporting event watched on television. If people can’t be bothered to dress for the occasion, they are not welcome at my funeral.

Taking everything in the round, I think the best thing for me would be a pauper’s funeral at a pauper’s grave: that is, if I can’t have a proper cortege with jet-black horses decorated with equally black plumes followed by thousands of somber mourners.               
Posted by Jill Fallon at August 11, 2014 10:40 AM | Permalink