Friday, February 3, 2012


The Thursday  Midweek Herald gave me quite a wince.  The Rev. Sue Roberts forgot to officiate at the graveside committal of a prominent hotelier.  The service had been planned six months ahead and family members were in attendance from the US and France.  The Rector rescheduled the committal for the next day, but the moment was lost and some kin were already on their way home by then.

I feel so sorry for the grieving family.  This service was scheduled on an anniversary when all would be in attendance.  A benefit of cremation is that these things can be planned to accommodate our schedules.  The Undertaker called close to the date to remind the rector too.  How difficult can it be?  What more could possibly have been done?

Personally, I know that I've lost weeks of my life to worries about clergy, whose M.O. is showing up ten minutes before the service starts, and I've seen them show up late and even forget altogether.  I've got a generic service ready to go in these situations, and have had to dig a grave by hand ( for ashes!) when the cemetery crew made a mistake.

Still, my heart goes out to this Rector, and indeed to anyone who makes a simple human mistake at a time when every detail needs to be right.  You forgot and you're sorry.  You feel for the family and wish you could do something to make it right.  Do they have to flash a camera when you open the door and splash it on the cover of the newspaper?  Ouch!

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Funeral service faces a crisis of relevance, and I am passionate about keeping the best traditions of service alive while adapting to the changing needs of families. Feel free to contact me with questions, or to share your thoughts on funeral service, ritual, and memorialization.


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