Attending a funeral gets one considering all sorts of things like mortality and posterity and ones life and its links to the lives of others. Another thing that funerals can get one thinking about is funerals. Over the last week I have been considering what kind of funeral I think I may want.
I am yet to make a will but my assets are few and the legal default of them reverting to my next-of-kin is just fine by me. But making some comments on what sort of service I want seems a worthwhile thing to do. Some time ago I did consider the kind of music I would want played at my funeral and gave cassettes to my parents of that music. However such things can get lost or destroyed in house fires and the like (besides which I am supposed to survive them). The Internet on the other hand is much more robust (says he trustingly) so I shall stick my intentions here. And then I shall be extra careful to evade the proverbial killer bus on the way home!
I would like to have a shortish and smallish service following this format:
* Attendees file in and sit while a recording of ‘Adagio For Strings’ by Samual Barber is played. I hope that by that time any associations this music has with a certain popular war movie will have faded. The music itself, free of any context, is very moving and tragic, which is fully my intent.
* A biographical eulogy is given by a civil celebrant who has consulted with surviving family and friends to put together some sort of verbal picture.
* There is a moment of silent contemplation while ‘Elegy’ by Jethro Tull is played. This instrumental is both sentimental and stately in feel.
* A friend recites the poem ‘At The Grey Havens’ by J R R Tolkien:
Day is ended
Dim my eyes
But journey long before me lies
I hear the call
The ships beside the stony wall
Foam is white and waves are grey
Beyond the sunset leads my way
Foam is salt
The wind is free
I hear the rising of the sea
The sails are set
The wind is east
The mooring fret
Shadows long before me lie
Beneath the ever-bending sky
But islands lie behind the Sun
That I shall raise ere all is done
Lands there are to west of West
Where night is quiet and sleep is rest
Guided by the Lonely Star
Beyond the utmost harbour-bar
I'll find the havens fair and free
And beaches of the Starlit Sea
Ship, my ship, I seek the West
And fields and mountains ever blest
Farewell to Middle Earth at last
I see the Star above your mast
These verses are the closest the service will get to any content of even remotely religious or supernatural nature.
* There is another moment of silent contemplation (how indulgent!) to ‘Last Horizon’ by Brian May. This instrumental is crisp and sweet with a dash of pomposity to it.
* Any present who wish to may now share personal anecdotes of the life we shared. I have seen this at one or more funerals I have attended in the past and think it works well. It is nicely freeform and community-oriented. After all a funeral is for everyone but the person having passed away.
* Attendees file out to ‘Memories Of You’ by Benny Goodman. This is lovely and lilting and very relaxed. A nice note on which to end I think.
All the music I have selected is instrumental. That is deliberate. Words impose concepts onto music while instrumentals let interpretations wander freely. I have all tracks named on CD.
What I have written here is pretty much what I want. Any other matter is something for others to decide. I did once prefer burial to cremation but I am now open-minded on the topic – whatever is most convenient is the thing to do. A setting that is garden-like and incorporates moving water is the one other notion I am drawn to (the Necropolis in Springvale has a lot of that sort of thing).
I do apologise to anyone who finds this at all disturbing or distressing. As I say it was just that attending one funeral put me in mind of others and ultimately of my own. Allow me this indulgence and regard it as simply an on-line record to be filed away for far future reference.