Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Blogging and breaks and obstacles

I have noticed a number of bloggers taking breaks. Sometimes personal issues need to be resolved, sometimes inspiration has dried up, sometimes other matters are taking precedence. Is it seasonal, I wonder? Will everyone spring back to full strength and output once the year has worn on a little more?

This time last week Barry and I attended the funeral of someone we had known for more than forty years. Our friend’s daughters had tried very hard to make her funeral a celebration of her life.

The ceremony got off to a bad start. When the vicar pushed the button to start the music for the hymn nothing happened and he had to wander off to attend to it. We then attempted to sing, ‘All things bright and beautiful’ but there was no choir and our voices were too thin. The men managed to make a contribution but the women’s voices wavered and failed. Towards the end of the service the vicar, having got a couple of names and relationships wrong and failing badly in his attempts at making light, then told us we were going to do something very unusual. Time was running short so we were to leave the chapel after paying our respects and finish the service outside. Naturally, by the time the last of the mourners had joined the rest of the congregation, the ceremony was almost over and some of the intended parts had been omitted. Luckily the rain held off for that brief period.

Funerals are grisly affairs – everyone dreads them but everyone goes to them because they are for the living, not the dead. Fifteen years earlier we had attended the funeral of our friend’s husband, a man Barry had known since they were both sixteen. It was odd to see the same faces, fifteen years older, at last week’s funeral. Some people had barely changed. In fact, some looked better. Others were showing clearer signs of ageing – more lines, more/less weight, less mobility – but the saddest were those who were clearly struggling with memory loss, fumbling gallantly for words, a slightly desperate expression in their eyes. These lapses could not be passed off as absentmindedness.

Funerals are wonderful for concentrating the mind on one’s own mortality. I have not yet reached the stage of planning my own but my present inclination (and for some years past) is that my mortal remains should be disposed of without ceremony, decently, under a tree, perhaps, and my family go off somewhere congenial to celebrate with a crate of champagne. (Hurrah, she's gone at last . . . J)

Perhaps that’s unfair – perhaps we need to observe the rituals, whatever they may be, according to our beliefs or lack of them. Perhaps that’s the only way we can say our farewells and begin to absorb the fact of death. Whatever, and after all, I shall have no say in it after I’ve gone (though plenty before!!) I do not wish to have any singing from the congregation and if anyone says, ‘She was always there for us,’ I shall haunt them till their dying days.

I think I want to go out to this . . . It’s for the chorus, really;-)


  1. We have ours all arranged and paid for...no room for creativity on the part of well meaning relations. Our family does not believe in services and viewings...just roll us in a hole and have done with it lol. But for a song to ride out on....I'll take the Hallelujah Chorus.

    1. How about a video of a Flash Mob singing it? Guaranteed to open the floodgates . . .

    2. I've posted three to choose from . . .

  2. I refuse to pay in advance because if anything goes wrong I wont get a refund. Life insurance is for such things and Jon knows my songs - I guess I should write them down somewhere. I felt for you re the fumbling vicar - no excuse - it's their job!

    1. You made me laugh, Denise - never thought about a refund:-)

  3. I agree that funerals and memorials are for the living, not for the dead. I have mentioned a few times hymns / songs I'd like sung at mine, but haven't really felt compelled to deal with the nitty-gritty, as I am still trying (as hard as I can, granted somewhat unsuccessfully) to ignore the passing of time. An interesting and reflective post, Janice.

  4. Oh, yes - these things are always 'for other people' - after all, we're still young at heart even if old(er) in appearance;-)

  5. When I hear "funerals" I have to think of the cheerful funerals of Mandela, where people sang, danced and clapped their hands. Fortunately in Belgium funerals changed more and more. The last one I have been too was really wonderful (strange to say of funerals) It was the one of my neighbor whom I knew for more then 25 years. She wanted her funerals to be cheerful and had orgaized it in her last will. No black clothes, white or colors. The whole room (not a church) was decorated with sunflowers. Sunflowers also on her coffin, only funny things of her life were told, she choose Rock music and some gospels. She was incinerated. After the ceremony we all gathered in a nearby restaurant and ... had fun, just as she had wished. For me that was an example. I want to do the same. Everybody has to go one day ! I prefer cheerful people and not sad once for my funeral!

  6. Such an interesting post, I had to read it twice! What a ghastly funeral..... I do agree with other commenters that funerals are really for those left behind. My ideas about my own funeral have undergone numerous changes over the years, so now I have specified only that I should have a very simple 'green' funeral - whoever is left to arrange it can suit themselves without worrying about what I may or may not have wanted! Of course, I'd like to think that this won't be necessary until I am very very old but still in full command of my faculties - although they seem to be declining rapidly already - so that I have time to revise my instructions if I wish!

  7. I think from time to time we do need to take a step back from blogging - back into reality; sometimes we stay there longer than intended!

    Some of the funerals I have been to lately seem to be gatherings of those who think "well at least it's not me, but NEXT time who knows?"

  8. I haven't taken a break from blogging in a while... a looong while. I used to post everyday for three years which I'm amazed at now, but now I'm doing it only Monday to Friday. Perhaps, this will change too.

    As for funerals, my mother has already told us that she wants certain things done. Being the daughter of a Buddhist priest, she's into all the formalities. My husband and I are much, much more lax and have told our kids to just provide a good dinner for everybody who comes.


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Wife, mother, grandmother, Always curious, good listener, interested in people. I'm on Twitter @jabblog