Friday, September 08, 2006

Funeral Advice

Clergy and other funeral-taking colleagues. Given the increasing popularity of having a private committal first followed by a memorial service I wondered if you are in the habit of doing anything extra to lengthen the committal part.

There is not much fixed content to a committal but it seems rather harsh to walk in, say the prayers and see the coffin disappear; it is all over in three minutes, notwithstanding that there is a 45 minute service to follow at a different venue.

What do you do? Extra silence? Words of explanation? Further prayers?


Mike said...

Whether before or after the 'churchy' bit, I usually sit people down, give a brief word of introduction, read a short passage (optional, depending on what the service included), say an additional prayer, brief silence to recollect, remember and let go/say farewell. Then I get them to stand for the committal.

I also briefly and gently explain what will happen next (curtains close, coffin lowers, gates shut) as it can alarm people if they don't know in advance.

Then do the formal bit and say a blessing. It's never long, but it is possible to make it a worthwhile gathering in its own right.

Kathryn said...

The trend here seems to be to have most of the service in church first, and then send the coffin off to the crem on its own...I can't bring myself to do this, so always go too but am very aware that the funeral directors probably feel I'm making an unnecessary performance of this. The other pattern is the traditional service in church followed by family only committal - and that's fine, as we're still more or less a gathered community after the earlier part of the service, so I don't do much more than lead them in, give them a few moments of recollection and then lead into the words of committal etc from the book. A final prayer and blessing and that's it.