I got an invite in the post the other day to an event in Uckfield in September that I am still pondering. It’s a funeral fair.
As diocesan communications officer and in the parish I have been involved in wedding fairs where we meet young couples and try to dispel some of the myths about marrying in church.
There are lots of other stalls informing on wedding cakes, photography, dresses and so on. Great fun and which attracts a fair bit of interest, but a funeral fair?
From the blurb it has a similar approach with stalls on memorials, funeral planning and the like.
It is the second one being held due to the success of a previous event.
I find it rather surprising that there was an audience for something like this. Funerals and death are not things that most people spend time pondering. Weddings, yes, but funerals, no.
Over my ministry I have encountered many different approaches to death and funerals.
There are those who like to think ahead and plan out their final departure.
They go for the funeral plan and a list of hymns, songs music and readings they would like.
It is a strange mix really, to be preparing for something which your family and friends are going to be involved in more than you. It expresses a concentration on this world and little about preparing for the next.
But then there are those who simply want to ignore death as a possibility. There is no conversation about the approaching end, nor crucially what lies beyond it.
I knew of a long married couple who never spoke of matters spiritual and so when one of them died the surviving spouse was possibly the most bereaved person I have ever met as they had fundamentally got nothing to hold on to or help them through the darkness.
I won’t be going to the funeral fair, but I do hope there is somewhere in there an opportunity to think more about what happens to the soul rather than the body.