I went to the funeral of my friend and colleague on Wednesday. She was a well-thought-of person with a huge circle of friends, colleagues and neighbours, and the hall where the humanist service was held was packed.
As ever at funerals, mood and emotions leap about. Sorrow at the occasion is replaced for a moment with pleasure as someone you haven't seen in ages appears. Reminiscences mingle with talk of future plans. Overall, there is a sense of disbelief that someone so vital, and younger than yourself has passed away. A life well lived, but too soon ended.
We were exhorted by the celebrant to use the example and use the life left to us all to the best effect we could. That was a good message to take away from a bright afternoon by the sea, where the sun was warm on our backs, and where the new Spring was gathering pace all around us as we stood around the grave.
The last funerals I attended were in the Netherlands. There, it is the way to offer hopes of "strength" to to the bereaved. I think that is a wonderfully practical hope to offer, it acknowledges the hurt of loss, and offers hope of recovery in a neat package. That was the sentiment I expressed to the family. Then I stepped back into the bustle of life continuing in the little port of Anstruther, walking back to my car under a blue sky full of wheeling gulls.
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