AJD's funeral went well yesterday. It was good to be critiqued by M for my former entry, which as I said was maybe a bit harsh (here).
I did think about what I wrote in that entr,y conscious of the fact that not everything that can be said needs to be said. But I did need to say what I said since he figured as a large part of my life and my formation as a priest. He was not responsible (for good or for ill) for the way I turned out, he did have some influence.
Part of the therapy of a funeral, however, is not to be bombarded by a litany of glory but to hear different perspectives.
So I heard this difficult man's wife (an amazing person by any standards) say of him that she was thankful for the unconditional love he had for his family. I think this was true and good to be stated. She talked, too, of how the awful Alzheimer's Disease had been a gift to this family. She is always open to the challenge and growth of impossible situations. I wonder if her fine children (as difficult a bunch as any) had her deep commitment to this. "He enjoyed chocolate biscuits and holding hands" seems a fine statement to make
It was good, too, to catch up with the cohort of people who share the same space with me that this man shared. We look older, we are dreading the next time we meet...it may be one of us. Indeed some of us were not there for that reason. One is on his deathbed and his daughter was there, but not his wife who needs to be with him.
Others were just not there. I needed to go, and it was really good for me. I feel a 25 year old spectre has been let go of. I hope that is true. There have been times when I just could not bear to go to a funeral, and go to so many that I could easily justify not going to another. It has not been so bad of late. I am glad I went.
No Bishop was present, a shameful statement of the Church's pathetic abilty to care for its own. Fortunately the deceased would regard this as something of a victory! This is something he taught me...the first instruction of my funeral requests reads....no Bishop will take any part in this service! I am not yet at the stage where I feel that I can endorse the shameful abnegation of oversight that the episocpate has perpetuated in recent times.....another blog all together!!
So, on the whole, this difficult funeral weaved its magic. WE should settle for nothing less than a difficult funeral!