A friend of mine called recently to vent about the awfulness of his parish. He attended a funeral where, instead of the homily, gave a pretty lame eulogy about the deceased. The poor woman was not actually a very pleasant or sociable individual, and of course Fr Folkmass went on and on about how popular she was. Then he invites the family to say a few words about the dear departed and nobody can think of anyone to say. My friend was cringing as the old duck’s brother stood up and told a couple of childhood stories about how the departed dealt with her weight problem. So it went from bad to worse.
And another thing: funerals are meant to be sad. Black should be worn. Dignified grief should be encouraged. A funeral is not a ‘celebration of Stanley’s life’. A funeral is not ‘a time of joy because Mildred is in heaven now.’ How tacky and trite is that? No. A funeral should be sad. Someone had died for goodness sake. Furthermore, people need to grieve. They need to work through the terror of death. They need to face reality. A solemn, sad, sober and serious funeral helps them to do that. A silly, shallow, superficial and stupid memorial service or ‘celebration of Pat’s life’ only encourages them to look the other way and take a feel good cop out from reality.