How to have a Jolly Good Funeral

Yesteday evening we witnessed a funeral cortege whilst out walking. My options for a ramble here are limited – it’s either snake infested dam walls or sandy paths that circumnavigate the local cemetary.

The coffin, which was huge, more of a hefty square than loosely corpse outlining polygon, was draped in a vivid red and gold blanket and held aloft by four men who were jogging towards the graveyard. Why are they running, I wondered? Perhaps the coffin’s heavy, suggested Mum. Perhaps they are worried the rain is coming? Perhaps, I mused, it’s just the end of the day and they’re tired and hungry?

The pall bearers were tailed by sporadically straggling groups of people, mourners you might imagine, some dragging children, one or two with goats and the occasional attendee on a bicycle. Most looked remarkably cheerful given they were presumably, though not certainly, grieving their dead: some were likely just interested passers-by who fancied the opportunity for a little social intercourse on the way home.

Citizens of the poverty stricken Third World are more pragmatic about death than we are. Probably because they have to be I explained to Amelia, ”because they face so much illness and disease” I said solemnly.

”Duh, Mum, Illness and disease are the same thing”.

Ah yes. So they are.

And as a consequence funerals are both regular and well attended occasions. It’s rare to see mourners arrive on foot (except in a place like the Outpost), frequently they follow a make-shift hearse (usually a pickup truck festooned with flowers) in long cavalcades of slowly moving vehicles bedecked with vibrant bougainvillea, their hazard lights blinking and horns blaring in a noisy semblance of untidy union, all full of women weeping, ululating or catching up on the latest gossip.

I hope my funeral’s that well attended I say to Amelia.

She tells me that in some societies, in the old days (which because she’s 14 could mean as recently as the 1980’s) people would leave money in their will in order to pay people to attend lest mourners were a little thin on the ground.

I hope she’s not suggesting I do the same?


8 Responses to “How to have a Jolly Good Funeral”

  1. Primal Sneeze Says:

    A man I know died just before Christmas. He had driven tipper trucks all his life – right past regular retirement age. Only in his 90s did he pass the reins, of a by then large fleet, to his grandson. (The son behind already retired).

    The coffin arrived at the graveyard in a convoy of 20 trucks. It was in the back of first which was tipped up half way and the coffin slid down into the arms of the pall bearers. As it was lowered into the grave the earth shook with the sound of all twenty air horns blowing in unison.

    A fitting end.

  2. Potty Mummy Says:

    Of course, this could be Amelia’s way of suggesting that you don’t take it ALL with you…

  3. R. Sherman Says:

    Amelia wasn’t affecting her “Marcia” personae, was she?


  4. Iota Says:

    I don’t think illness and disease are the same thing. I think disease is something you catch (measles, polio) and illness is a catch-all word for not being well.

    The fact that doctors now speak of ‘heart disease’ always worries me. It forces me to entertain the possibility that the entire medical profession is correct and I am wrong. They didn’t use to, though. It used to be ‘heart condition’.

    Try that on Ameila and see what she thinks. If you tell her that I can remember the 1980s, she might be impressed by my age and accompanying wisdom.

  5. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    A fitting end indeed PS; I think that’s a great sendoff.

    PM: what All? It’s been poured into the wide open mouth of education! I shall be a penniless OAP hanging around my brood for food and succour.

  6. Jen Says:

    I, too, am hoping for more than 3 people at my ultimate send off. How about a deal, Mem? I’ll come to yours with a date if you go first, if you will agree to attend mine with another body in tow if I pop off first?

    What do you think?

  7. New to This Says:

    I just lost a brother last night, and here I am looking for information before heading back to the family. I can almost see your smiles in your written words. My brothers and I were all joking a bit last night, even as our brother was in transport from the hospital. I suppose one cannot help but see the brighter side of things, even if it is something you’d expect to be nothing but tears.

  8. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    New To This: I am so dreadfully, dreadfully sorry. I have lost loved ones. As yawning as the chasm of pain seems at first, I promise, hard as it is to believe now, it narrows. Albeit slowly and painfully. With thoughts.

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