Anyway: as a funeral celebrant, I spend much time ensuring people - families, friends, mourners - get what they want. That is surely a large part of the rationale for a ceremony that does not need to follow the rituals and structures of an organised religion (for better or worse, of course. Come on, own up - which of us does not have a bit of an aching hole where the finer elements of those rituals used to live? Whatever we believe?)
So a while ago, that's what I did. He who had died was a big character, the crematorium was packed twice over. His family wanted to accentuate the positive, celebrate the life, didn't want it too sad and gloomy.
After my customary warning that it would be sad, but that we would make sure it wasn't too sombre or gloomy, we went ahead and planned it.
It wasn't very sad, that's for sure.
The gathering loved it. Plenty of smiles, some big laughs. Off we went.
And I'm left thinking "was that "right?" There wasn't much mourning there, not much room for grief. Very few signs of grief. Not much acceptance or acknowledgement of the power and mystery of death to enrich our lives and help their grieving. And yet he was a greatly valued man.
Was I helping them to avoid the issue, skate in a superficial way over what had happened to them?
Maybe I still have a model of what a funeral "should" be, instead of letting it be what it is. I was pleased by how it went, but troubled by the thought that it may have lacked what many people see asone important function of a funeral - to help people through a physical loss, however much they want to enjoy memories of his life.
They got what they wanted, but probably not what what I wanted for them. I'm sure that's better than the other way round, but still...