It’s hard to elect the Top Worst Moment of a funeral, for there are so many to choose from.
Is it walking behind the box containing your beloved one, knowing the feet you used to massage are just a few centimetres from your nose? Is it having to endure a service which is all about your beloved one, whilst they lie there on display like a floral centrepiece? Is it looking out at a congregation of stricken faces as you, numbed by gin and beta-blockers and shock, calmly read a page of memories about your beloved one?
Since Mark died, I’ve endured the funerals of three more beloved ones – all of my remaining grandparents have gone over the past 21 months. Four key family members, now extinct.
Of course three of them had ‘a good innings’ as the platitude goes. They all lived to see grandchildren, great-grandchildren, Louis Smith win Strictly Come Dancing. Their deaths were sad, but not a fucking tragedy like that of my husband. The sadness doesn’t abate around my heart though. They were all immense characters and they have each left an irremediable void.
Yesterday, it was the turn of the old boy mentioned in the post below. All the usual atrocities of ‘saying goodbye’ were present, but I am in no doubt of my Top Worst Moment pick on this occasion (and it wasn’t when the aged pall-bearer stumbled on the church step and nearly dropped the coffin.)
Grandpa’s wish was to be committed to the ground, buried intact immediately after the event. Nothing could have prepared me for the image of him being offloaded into the bowels of the earth, and the box containing my Gran’s ashes placed on top of him. It seemed an unspeakably brutal, almost Neolithic way of dispensing with a body. We left him for the after-party, effectively to rot.
Surely a world which has achieved such feats of engineering as space travel, nanotechnology, Joan Rivers’ face, can come up with a less gruelling manner of dispatch?
Perhaps this is why ashes remain uncollected in funeral parlours across the world, why urns sit on mantelpieces, why my husband remains in my wardrobe. An acceptable alternative has yet to be invented.