In the latest Private Eye under Eye Classifieds, someone has advertised their services as a professional mourner. I had to read it twice! I think I know what a professional mourner does even though I have not met one before but is there a need for such a person?
I have often heard from the Mhinisteir as to how some bereaved families prefer not to turn up at the funeral service in Church or at the crematorium. The reasons given are usually family feud or simply too busy to turn up!
To hire a professional mourner appears to be just taking it a step too far but maybe there is a perfectly simple reason as to why there is a need to hire one!
In the same Private Eye, under Dumb Britain, I spotted the following:-
Tipping Point, ITV
Ben Shephard: Ciabatta bread originated in which European country?
We have finally come to the end of another year. I never know what to expect when the new year begins. I know that some will say that 2021 has been the same as 2020. I beg to differ.
Yes, Coronavirus is still with us. However with vaccines, rightly or wrongly we have become bolder. Once again, we have begun to focus more on ourselves than others; offers to provide our elderly neighbours with help dwindled and is now non existent. Going on holidays has become a birth right!
Below are some of my own highs and lows of 2021:-
🔶 2 x lady babies who were born this year into the family.
🔶 2 x weddings in the family.
🔶 The Mhinisteir was made an honorary canon of the cathedral.
🔶 2 x funerals in the family including that of my grandmother’s who passed away due to Covid19.
🔶 My father landed in hospital and was not allowed any visitors due to Covid-19.
“So is the body in the morgue?” I quizzed the Mhinisteir. I added that I wished to attend the funeral service. The Mhinisteir looking confused asked me whose funeral I was referring to. “P’s of course.” I said. “The funeral is over.” he said. I was too shocked to reply.
According to the Mhinisteir, the funeral was over a good few weeks ago. I was of course wondering why he hadn’t told me about it. He said he too didn’t know about it as it was a direct cremation. As I am not familiar with the term “direct cremation”, I thought it was the name of the funeral directors!
He went on to explain that P had opted for direct cremation which means that nobody would have been present at the crematorium and that there was no service. I was so shocked that I struggled to get the right words out of my mouth.
The Mhinisteir went on to explain that people are increasingly opting for direct cremations. One reason is the cost but the more popular reason is that they don’t want sad farewells!
I am beginning to wonder if in this modern world, we are trying to remove the “sting of death”. Funerals help us in the grieving process. If we don’t grief properly, then it might come back to bite us!
The Mhinisteir works mostly from home but he is also out and about conducting services, meetings, house visits among many other things. However unless he is away from his parishes, he always has lunch with me. In the Vicarage, meal times are sacred! We are firmly of the view that what you put in your body is very important and that having proper meals helps one to be effective and productive. Oh by the way, I am solely in charge of these said meals!
We tend to exchange news during meal times as it is usually the only times during the day that I see the Mhinisteir; he is usually holed up in his study busy working or in zoom meetings so I avoid his study or should I say avoid him!
A few weeks ago during lunch, he told me that his morning was totally wasted. When I enquired further, I realised that a stone mason had sneakily put in a headstone in one of the churchyards without permission! In the Church of England, there is a proper procedure in place for stonemasons to adhere to before they erect a headstone on behalf of the deceased family. The first step is for the stonemason to put in an application with all the necessary information like the type of stone, the colour of the stone, the inscription etc. Application will be rejected if the stone is not the approved colour or type etc; the inscription is equally important. You may think that all this a bit over the top but it is not so because as it is the Church yard, it must meet with the religious requirements.
Unfortunately, the stonemason had not done any of this and started telling porkies. He was proving too powerful for both the church administrator and the church warden and so the Mhinisteir had to get involved together with the Diocesan solicitors! I am sure it was the last resort as involving the diocesan solicitors meant more work for the Mhinisteir!
Sadly, it is not just the stonemasons who are slippery, funeral directors are just as bad. They seem to prey on bereaved families when these families are at their lowest.
After his second morning service on Sunday, a young girl came up to the Mhinisteir at the door and said that she wanted to have a word with him. This took the Mhinisteir by surprise as young girls are usually shy and tend to hide behind their parents!
Anyway, the Mhinisteir took the girl to a side, in full view of her parents of course and enquired as to how he might be able to assist her. The young girl started telling him about her friend’s father who had passed away very suddenly and that this friend and her family were struggling with grief and if the Mhinisteir could “send a prayer”. According to the Mhinisteir, he was a little confused as to what she meant by “send a prayer”; he had initially thought that she wanted him to write to her friend but thankfully he quickly realised that she wanted him to pray for her friend and family!
How sweet and thoughtful of this young girl to be moved by her friend’s plight and to ask for prayer!
ps: The Mhinisteir has just come into my study to inform me that a much loved cousin has suddenly passed away of a heart attack. As I type this, I am full of sorrow and so I can only repeat the words of Job from the Bible “the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord”.
There was a tragic incident on Friday which ended in the murder of a Tory MP. We have since learnt that a Catholic priest who tried to give the last rites to the MP who himself was a Catholic was denied access. It has of course created unhappiness among some people and rightly so.
I am not a Catholic and with my protestant upbringing, I am not too familiar with last rites however I know that to a Catholic and to some Anglicans the last rites are VERY important. It will be very easy to blame the police officer who together with his colleague made the decision to deny access to the Catholic priest but did they really know the meaning of last rites? With the UK becoming more and more secular, I am beginning to wonder whether the police are even aware of our Christian heritage. If they don’t, then they need to start learning fast before they make another mistake such as this.
In the last 12 months, the Mhinisteir has had at least 3 requests for exhumation. I will not insult your intelligence by explaining what an exhumation is. I was intrigued by these requests. I used to think that you only exhume a body in extreme circumstances like when a crime has been committed.
The Mhinisteir explained that requests such as these are rarely approved. As the Church yard is a sacred place, there should be very little disturbance. This is why we say rest in peace. Furthermore, when a person is buried, It should be their final resting place.
By the way, I have since learnt that at least one of the person requesting an exhumation is the wife of the deceased. The reason given was that the husband’s grave was vandalised but the real reason is because she is moving away!
At the weekend, my biggest nightmare became true when a dear family member passed away after contracting Covid19. As a mark of respect, I will not be posting anything for the next few days but I hope to return soon.
The seaside town of Whitby, England has long been associated with Dracula and local shops are filled with Dracula memorabilia.
This is causing a big headache to the clergy and staff of the local parish church as each summer, tourists in their droves descend at the church yard looking for Dracula’s grave. Sadly, they are never able to find it!!!!
No wonder. Dracula is a fictional character!!!!!! Ha ha!!!