Space travel, nanotechnology, Joan Rivers’ face

English: Joan Rivers at Musto's 25th Anniversary.

English: Joan Rivers at Musto’s 25th Anniversary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

9 thoughts on “Space travel, nanotechnology, Joan Rivers’ face

  1. I’m not sure whether to comment or not – I’m a 42 year old aspie woman who struggles with saying the right thing so much – I will, but hope that it isn’t inappropriate, if it is, please accept my apologies!

    The thing I feel compelled to share is regarding burial; for me, burial, the idea of it, gives me such comfort. This may be a bit of a hippy way of looking at it, but when we rot into the ground we replenish the soil, which it needs such help with in these days of intensive farming. For me, the thought of becoming part of the land is, well, it’s an intense sense of being at one with the world; the idea that my body can help to carry on the cycle of growth (and decay) really pleases me, but perhaps that is all just part of what makes me a rather strange individual!

    • I am so delighted that you have shared this point of view. It’s a way of looking at burial which hadn’t occurred to me, and I can see how it could offer comfort. This is why this blog is so valuable to me. Perhaps I will consider this as a way of committing Mark’s ashes – mixing them with the earth and planting a tree or something. Really thought provoking. Thank you so much. x


      • Yes. I too have never thought of a burial in that way either. Altho heartbreaking watching your loved one be covered in soil. At least one is saved from watching them burn. How hard it must have been for you losing so many loved ones after Mark. I’ve had an uncle die since Ian and I couldn’t bring myself to go to the funeral. I felt dreadful for my dad but he understood my grief was still too raw. Fortunately my sister stepped up in her role of supporter again. A role she has perfected over the last year. Me !! Well .. I’m still drinkin .. Love n hugs xx

  2. wow! I love that too. I must say at yesterday’s funeral, ‘brutal’ really did seem the appropriate word. I suppose that one’s head is so full of thoughts about the living, vibrant person one knew and loved that the bigger picture, the circle of life, gets lost. Thank you, creatively paleo, you have helped me,too, to get a better perspective on things…. so difficult to do when you’re up so close. x

  3. Well done for getting through what must have been a very hard day for you.
    Neither of the options for dealing with the deceased are particularly civilised. I hated the idea of burial, mainly because of my paranoid fear of not being dead and at least being cremated will make sure I definitely am. However I hadn’t thought about it in a ‘circle of life’ way before and I do like that idea. Big hugs xx

  4. I must admit, I decided, I would stay behind and watch the cemetery men lower Daddy into his grave, completely, before I headed home that day. They had him about 3/4 of the way down and I surprised myself by suddenly turning away, averting my gaze and quickly walking to my car…there I burst into tears. For several days I visited and worried over Daddy as he was so alone in that ground below. Odd, since I have planted many a soul in those stone orchards…

  5. what a lovely thought, Creatively Paleo. I too, believe that everything in the universe is connected, though if I try to think deeply upon that concept, I get a little distracted and lost. but I also believe that the purpose of life on this earth is love, so perhaps viewing burial as nurturing our earth is a way of honoring the love that connects us to all of the universe; thank you for the thoughts you expressed; they’ve helped me to more fully embrace what “the circle of life” really means.

    I think also that whatever the process chosen to deal with the shells of ourselves we leave behind, it’s never easy because it comes so quickly after such profound losses, as others have spoken about. and of course, the awful and unspeakable sudden death is even more of trauma.

    it often takes years for us to grasp that our loved one’s physical presence is gone, and when we think of them they are still alive to us – we can still feel their touch, hear their voice and their laughter, smell their scent, see their smile – and we want so desperately for them to come back to us, whole and human. so whether cremation or burial is the method, perhaps it would be good if we could think more about death and dying before it happens to us, and perhaps express to those whom we love so dearly, those we will leave behind to live in the miasma of such pain and longing, just why we are choosing burial or cremation. knowing it is something that we want and why we want it might bring some measure of comfort to them in honoring our wishes.

    much love and light,

    Karen xxoo

  6. Thanks for all your comments on this, as ever. I think when it comes to your own beloved, it is so hard to make this decision. But the ‘circle of life’ concept is such a lovely one – if one suspends one’s disbelief for a moment and forgets who the subject of the decision is, it is a comforting way of looking at it. Love and thanks to all. X (hope that comment makes sense – I know what I mean anyway!) 😉

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