Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Funeral Rules.

I was interested to read in the Indo this morning that Catholic Church is putting it's foot down with regard to funerals.


"A NEW row has erupted over Catholic Church rules for funerals.

It flared up after jazz musician Paddy Cole revealed yesterday that he was not allowed to play at his mother's funeral Mass.

The flames had earlier been fanned when priests in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan circulated a leaflet at the weekend setting out the rules for funeral Mass from the Bishop of Clogher, Joseph Duffy.

The leaflet states that specially composed poems and favourite songs are in breach of the diocesan regulations.

And even the traditional practice of mourners lining up to shake hands with bereaved families in church is banned during Requeim Mass, although it is still permitted during the removal ceremony.

Mr Cole's comments sparked a rash of calls to a radio show from bereaved families who had been banned from playing "goodbye songs" or giving funeral eulogies.

The jazz star, who comes from the area, said he had played at funerals of friends in Dublin and other parts of the country but had been banned from performing a musical tribute at his mother's funeral.

Listeners then called RTE's 'Liveline' to vent their anger that they were not allowed to recite their memories of loved ones from the altar."

I've been to a few funerals over the last few years and I find them hellish affairs at the best of times, but overly wrought funerals all the more so. I understand the church's stance on this, left unchecked funerals can go on for hours, long rambling eulogies, long weepy songs like 'My heart will go on', it's unreal.
I understand the desire to say good bye to a loved one, to pay your respect, but there are ways of doing so with turning the funeral into a mawkish affair.
This is why wakes are a terrific idea, people can come and trade stories, cry, sing, drink, gain comfort from one another, remember the person who has passed. Let the church do its job, perform it's rites and solemn duty.
On this one I agree completely with the Catholic Church.*

* Awaits thunder clap and possible bolt of lightening.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

"On this one I agree completely with the Catholic Church."

It's ok just sit down and take deep breaths the ambulance will be there shortly.


9:25 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Aye, it's a strange one.

9:31 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They can go on a bit but it can be hard for people to let go. Also, I want Don't Stop me Now at mine.


9:31 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I want to forgo a church ceremony altogether. I was to be cremated, then shot out of a blunderbuss, preferably into the nearest holistic healing centre. Might be tricky to arrange but it would be my final wish.

9:35 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all maudlin' auld codology.
Some funerals are like going to an audition for Xfactor or an awards ceremony at the oscars, tears whilst reading the tributes...Probably for some aul bollix that no one could stand when he was alive.

When I go I want one of those new fangled eco-pods. Fucked if I'm gonna waste money on a walnut casket, that those bastard undertakers probably screw the brass handles off. And I want one of those drain pipe things going up to the surface with a moble phone antenna, just in case!

9:41 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha Ha, it would be quite odd to go to a funeral without the church, nothing wrong with it but I think it be strange.


Also Miss Dior Chere too early in the morning is bad. Very bad.

9:42 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Eco pods! ow organic.
Coffins are extremely expensive and totally daft I think too. Also I don't want to be embalmed, forget that, stick me in a cardboard box and let me burn.

Nowt strange about it, I think all non church goers should be given the option, so to speak.

9:57 a.m.  
Anonymous problemchildbride said...

I'm for a cardboard box too, only I don't want to be burned for reasons I can't articulate or have even thought out that much. It's planting for me. A simple ceremony and a few howling good wakes. (Not sure about Ireland but in Scotland we have them every night between the day after the death and the funeral.)

10:04 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

We don't Sam. Mostly there's a removal and then by and large folk call to the house where they peson died, but not proper wakes, I don't think, I may be corrected. There are many triangular sandwiches. Usually after the funeral proper folk retire to the pub or home.

10:08 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We always have wakes usually only one night since people are burried so quick here, think it's like a week in England, it's only like 3 days here. I am damn scared of dead people/animals, that is the main reason I don't like meat so I find wakes difficult. Also, like Sam I would hate to be burned.


10:18 a.m.  
Anonymous eva said...

I'm all for the cardboard box and burning too.
But if I die before my family at home I doubt they would oblige with my wish. It would surely be one of the dreary awful events that funerals back home usually are. Thank God I will be dead, that's all I say!!
One thing my Scottish friend found truly disgusting when visiting my home country for the first time last week - while flicking through some old photos - was that in Finland people take photos of funerals.
Yep, I agree. Why on earth would anybody want to have photos of that? My friend's comment was "you'd be shot if you did that in Scotland".

10:28 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FMC...wakes are still common nenough in "rural" Ireland, but the "funeral palour" increasingly taking their place, guess it's not a Dublin thing, also, patrons are common too, 'tis the season for em, again ..only done outside the pale

10:33 a.m.  
Blogger Dr. James McInerney said...

Who was it that wanted to be buried to the bollix in BB Baskin?

Seriously though, while having no truck with the religious types, nobody is more prepared for death than a priest. I (unfortunately) have been to too many young students funerals and the absolute best people in the world are priests. I guess they have more experience than anybody else, but when a young person dies, priests can really help the friends. And I too agree with the church on this - a bit of solemn dignity is really a very nice thing at a funeral.

My worst one was a student that died of a long illness and at the church after the priest had finished, one of the friends, who had brought a portable tape player put on Nirvana "Smells like teen spirit" and walked out of the church ahead of the coffin in his black leathers, carrying the 'ol Ghettoblaster high above his head.

It was like a scene from Highlander or something.

11:00 a.m.  
Blogger Conan Drumm said...

I'm for burning, and scattering on a windy day.

11:05 a.m.  
Anonymous Shebah said...

I'm afraid I am in complete disagreement with the catholic church on this one. I think people should be free to say goodbye to their loved one in any way they think fit. If it gives them any sort of closure, then so be it. The problem is the church trying to "manage" people's grief to their own "tasteful" or convenient specification. In this case one size does not fit all as grief is uncontrollable, and death does not respect convenience. The only thing that should matter at this kind of time is what the family want. I have first hand experience of a very recent Irish funeral and it was an unusual and harrowing experience after UK ones. There were three ceremonies, all carried out very quickly - within 3 days of death - the first a prayer ceremony for immediate family in the Harolds Cross Hospice chapel, followed by a ceremony the same evening at the church where the family formed a line and everybody shook our hands (I found this both unusual and very moving) and the next day a full blown funeral mass with a soprano and readings. I think for the older members of the family this was a kind of closure, they seemed to need the reassurance of both the religious and the secular. It showed the person had mattered to a lot of people and I guess the religious stuff was something to cling to give some meaning to a young adult life cut short.(this only confirmed my lack of belief in a God). I was also amazed that as well as relatives and friends, the whole local community including neighbours, former teachers and the entire staff of a local favourite pub came - the church was packed for both ceremonies. In the UK this would never happen - most funerals are quite small affairs. In London most people are cremated, and it is like a production line - they are allocated a half hour service at the crematorium. There are usually favourite songs and poems -the usual poems are "Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad by Christina Rossetti;
Do not stand at my grave and weep (Anon) and Funeral Blues, the W H Auden one from 4 Weddings & A funeral. Nothing wrong with mawkish, we should all be free to cry us a river.

11:07 a.m.  
Blogger morgor said...

I like the viking style funeral of put in a boat and then the boat set fire by flaming arrow as it disappears into the sunset.

Hopefully something would go wrong and my half burned corpse would go floating around posh yachts in dun laoighire or something.

11:20 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That seems like a normalish funeral in Ireland I don't think Miss Cat means this. In addition to the rituals you mention there is normally a wake as well were the person is brought back to their house laid out for one night whislt the family sit with them to warn of evil spirits and keep them company!!


11:50 a.m.  
Blogger jothemama said...

I too am squinked by the burning. I didn't go to my mother's cremation, I did not want to see the coffin containing her body slide into a funace. Ugh.

I'm much happier with the idea of decaying squishily in the gound - I think it's because I'm an earth sign :)

THe best funeral I've ever been to was in a park, no officiator but my aunt's husband, people speaking openly, and the music she'd chosen playing in the background, and again at the house afterwards. It was perfect.

11:54 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am perplexed as to how you would find the experience "harrowing", three ceremonies on three consecutive days...this is normal, and in my opinion is much better than waiting a week or more to be buried or cremated in the UK, at least the whole thing of funerals etc are condensed into three or so days (allowing for post mortem etc) it's common in Ireland for the community to attend the funeral, I have attended funerals of friends in London and find it sad that only 15 or 20 people might turn up, at the end of ones life....its sad

11:57 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I figured I'd be corrected on the wakes. Thanks Anon.
DOcky, that sounds like a scene from the breakfast club.
It's odd the amount of folk who don't like the idea of cremation, the Lilac Couch is the same, she always uses 'just in case' in her argument. But just in case of what? Just in case she pulls a Lazarus and rises again?
Shebah, I don't think the CC are trying to do away with all the trappings, hand shaking is okay on the removal to the church and so on, but it's the main mass where they're trying to rein in. Choral songs or song of praise are okay, Celine Dion not so much. One member of the family to speak for the dead, not every aunt and second cousin. I suppose it is management to a degree, but one I understand.

I have a very peculiar reaction to death, I am inclined to become very 'brisk'. I don't know why, but that's the reaction if produces in me. Others, like my oldest friend takes great comfort in the traditions that surround death, like she'll go to a grave and say prayesr for a loved on or she'll have a anniversary mass said and so on. She also handles grief far better than me.
I clam up and 'briskify' the whole process where as she grieves and then come to terms with things much better than I do.

11:58 a.m.  
Anonymous Manonymous said...

Thje main reason for me that I don't want to be buried is if what if someone puts a spell on the graveyard and I come back to life as a zombie and then the next thing you know your dancing with michael jackson and he's a pervert and to me that would be terrible being a zombie and dancing next to a pervert.

12:08 p.m.  
Blogger Manuel said...

yes imagine all the robbie williams and cher and all that sentimental arse......actually just imagine chers funeral......brings a smile to the face........

1:02 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My brother-in-law died rather suddenly earlier this year, and we got a pretty intimate look for the first time at the whole funeral/mass arrangement machinery. First off, it's weird as shit. I think we'd watched too much of Six Feet Under...
But what I think people remembered most about the process is that the priest handed the grieving widow a piece of paper laying out guidelines for the "eulogy," complete with underlined and bold-faced words.
It was NOT to be a retelling of the person's LIFE STORY. It was to be INSTRUCTIVE to the people gathered there. Some speakers HOLD THE CONGREGATION HOSTAGE by going on too long; remember that people come in FROM WORK and don't want to spend HOURS at the funeral. Keep your comments to THREE minutes, NO LONGER THAN FIVE.
I got to see my mother-in-law curse in the church.

I see the point of having guidelines and everything. Spouse gave the non-eulogy eulogy and I think the compressed time limit gave him just enough structure to say everything concisely without losing any feeling.
But it's one thing to have restrictions on telling the life story of a 90-year-old who succumbs to a stroke. It's another to be dealing with the family of a 39-year-old victim of a heart attack. It can be done quite a bit more sensitively than it was done in my brother-in-law's case.

1:18 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

No doubt about it Grims, a little bit of tact can go a very long way indeed.

Manuel, NO! What about Moonstruck? I can forgive Cher everything for that film, including 'if I could turn back time' (but you did Cher you really did!)

Manoymous, okay.

1:22 p.m.  
Blogger Medbh said...

I tend to be a bit cold about death as well. It seems morbid to linger on it. I'm all for the burning and scattering. I'd prefer people just drank their faces off and had a good time as opposed to tears.

2:15 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all the palstic in Cher and Michael Jackson, just how long do you think it would take for them to degrade in the soil. Cremation might not be an option, given the fumes that all the plastic would emit

2:19 p.m.  
Anonymous Cate said...

Ha ha, I love these random Manonymous comments. They're wak! Was reading intently until that splurge.

2:21 p.m.  
Anonymous Shebah said...

Anonymous - harrowing for me, I meant. I am more at ease doing my grieving privately - at three different ceremonies it was impossible to retain dignity and keep a stiff upper lip, when somebody much loved is just gone - the finality is excruciatingly unbearable. Not that I particularly believe in dignity at funerals. There is little dignity in a death from cancer, it is a painful, messy undignified event - so fuck dignity. Why dignity anyway? - so as not to embarrass the clergy? Who cares a fuck about them. In Arab countries people wail and grieve openly - whereas we think we should apologise for tears. I can now fully understand people who "Rage, rage against the dying of the light"

2:46 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

For marmalade's sake don't encourage them. Christ know what they'll come out with next, something about Romanian funerals no doubt.

Medbh, I suppose it depends on who died and my relationship to them, but I'm terrible at funerals, not outwardly-I wouldn't be that rude- but inwardly.
I'm always itching to get away. This isn't a genuine reaction either, just my coping mechanism, or it could be a reaction to may years being cooped up in a Catholic boarding school. Whatever it is it brings out the bratty teenager in me.
When my father died I didn't shed a single tear at the church or the grave yard, I listened to people offer condolences and I was morbidly fascinated with the whole procedure. My mother attributed this to my being 'cold' when in truth I was in dumb shock. It took weeks for his loss to actually come home to me, and a couple of weeks more to actually cry about his passing. I suppose everyone is different in how they handle death.

2:52 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Shebah, we crossed. I second that, fuck cancer, I hate it so.

2:53 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You spend your time laughing at people with faith in religion. Heaping scorn on organised religion, yet you feel that you are entitled to comment on the minute's of the funeral mass.
You cant have it both ways. Tis remarkable how even the most fervent non believer gets second thoughts when death approaches.

I say, if the church isn't good enough for you to attend when your alive, you can go fuck off when your dead.

3:14 p.m.  
Blogger Medbh said...

Anon, you are a turd.

3:21 p.m.  
Blogger Dr. James McInerney said...

That is an interesting comment anonymous. I don't want to go anywhere near a church when i die. I do go to people's funerals in churches, because that is where they are brought. I also think the clergy are good at talking to people that are grieving - it is something that they do better than I ever could. But that's it. There is no religious message here. There is no belief in God statement. There is no uncertainty about it all. There is no vacillating as the hour of impending termination approaches. Simply credit where it is due. I still think organised religion is bunkum.

3:26 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think there is anything to ashamed about in crying. I think age and the manner in which a person dies greatly influences the grieving process. My Grandfather died recently, I idolized the ground he walked on, I spent much of my childhood with him and my Grandmother, I would see or talk to him 4 or 5 times a week, I even followed in his footsteps and went into the same profession as him but we had just been out for dinner, he went for a pint with my uncle before going home to his own house where he died warm in his bed fast asleep at 89. He had not been sick. I was happy at his funeral, sad for his lose and I miss him terribly but happy that he did not suffer. On the other had I have witnessed two people die horrendous deaths, their funerals were equally horrendous. We should have euthanasia, should a sane adult suffering want it.


3:28 p.m.  
Anonymous Shebah said...

Agree with Dr James. They can burn me or put me out for the birds to peck. If your family and friends are staunch believers, it is not a time to start quoting your principles or religious disbeliefs. You join in with whatever rite they have arranged in whatever church/temple out of love and respect. And Nonny's comment "I am damn scared of dead people/animals, that is the main reason I don't like meat so I find wakes difficult. " Nonny, you are as daft as a fireant but you made me laugh out loud with your bizarre logic! LOL!

3:42 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shebah, that is a mean thing to say. I just don't like dead things is all, from the time I was a nipper I always thought people eating dead things utterly yuck.


3:54 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Who the hell is 'Anonymous' even talking to? I don't heap scorn upon the church nor do I want to be buried in it. I'm guessing I won't have much of a say once I'm dead either way.
And by the way, agreeing with the CC on this issue doesn't mean I agree with organised religion. Really Anonymous, do try harder to actually read before you flap your big beak.
I heap scorn upon woo and woo frauds, like that millionaire fraud Christine Gallagher and Reiki wanklords. And I don't remain anonymous to do so.

Nonny, I don't think that was meant to be mean at all, just you can be v. funny sometimes.

4:46 p.m.  
Blogger morgor said...

Tis remarkable how even the most fervent non believer gets second thoughts when death approaches.

It is isn't it, almost as if it's a desperate attempt by someone who is in an unstable frame of mind.

5:14 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I'm still laughing at the idea of your half burned corpse, resplendent with horned helmet, stinking up the yacht club.

5:17 p.m.  
Blogger morgor said...

hehe, on my way to valhalla ;)

5:23 p.m.  
Anonymous Shebah said...

Sorry Nonny, not meant to be mean - your sentence conjured up a crazy image for me - I am imagining people eating bodies at the wake! Just my black sense of humour.

5:26 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh I see emmm hmm. I can assure you I have never eaten anything dead.

I will see you peeps on the flip side, I am off to buy an electric guitar. I want to learn how to play the America National Anthem so I can Shout, AMERICA, FUCK YEAH at the end. Maybe I could get a job gigging at funerals.

Peace out my Homeeeees!


5:46 p.m.  
Blogger morgor said...

I can assure you I have never eaten anything dead.

You only eat things that are still alive? that's worse.

6:01 p.m.  
Blogger Lou said...

Technically don't vegetables etc die when you eat them? They are a living thing after all....

I want to be properly waked, propped up dead in a bedroom with everyone drinking porter and smoking pipes downstairs. Around a turf fire.

Funny enough I am more freaked out by the idea of mouldering away in the ground than being cremated.

8:08 p.m.  
Blogger jothemama said...

I could be wrong, but if you eat fresh veg, I'd say it's got more life in it than meat has - more enzymes and vitamins, perhaps.

8:24 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Me too Lou, I want to be nuked to a crisp to be absolutely sure. The very idea of waking up underground give em the eternal willies.

Jo, I read recently that frozen veggies actually contain more nutrients and vitamins than fresh as they are frozen at the moment of disconnection/plant death. Makes a curious kind of sense in a way.

8:34 p.m.  
Anonymous problemchildbride said...

I'm worried that if I'm murdered and then cremated, there will be no body to exhume for possible evidence and i shall not be able to point a bony finger at my murderer from the grave.

I think the customs surrounding death can run deeper than we think sometimes. I remember being slightly shocked for a minite or two at my husband's aunt's funeral, at what people were wearing. There was I, all in the black, but my mother-in-law, the deceased's sister, arrived in a pair of white sneakers, white slacks, a jade t-shirt and a diamante American flag brooch. There were people there in trainers and shorts - relatives who'd taken the day off for the funeral mind, they didn't have to go back to work - and teenage girls in teeny tiny skirts and high heels. I felt like a freak in my black garb.

This looks like a barbecue - where's the respect for the deceased? I wondered. And was immediately ashamed of myself. Who the hell am I to try and quantify a family's respect and grief? What the hell does it matter what's worn? It was obvious by the tears shed and the memories shared that the poor woman was loved and would be deeply missed - the service was nice and she was buried with dignity.

People have all sorts of mourning traditions. One of mine is to wear black to the funeral, and I still do, because for me that particular ritual took hold and I guess it is my own personal mark of respect when it seems I can't do much else. I've been to several funerals since then in the US and while some people wear a suit or a dress or dress "up" or whatever, some don't but it doesn't seem so weird any more. I'll carry on dressing in black for funerals because that's in my head as what I should do. The difference is, I no longer think other people should have to conform to my obscure little island's rules about what constitutes proper mourning.

There was me, thinking I was so well-traveled and cosmopolitan and woman-of-the-worldy, and it turns out that in matters of death, I was as parochial as any old FP biddy from home.

8:47 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Darling, I completely understand, it is our customs that define us sometimes. I'd never go to a funeral not in sombre attire either, I just couldn't, in the same way as I could not, even at pain of death, go to a wedding in jeans. I just couldn't.
Right, First Wives Club on telly, yes I know it's ridiculous, but it amuses the hell out of me for some daft reason.
Have a lovely evening everyone.

9:31 p.m.  
Anonymous eva said...

Yay, we were telly buddies this evening, I watched First Wives Club too :)
Started watching The Saint later, but it was so shite I had to turn it off.

11:24 p.m.  
Anonymous Common Law said...

Burned and scattered for me. One condition - I want that Glen Hansard song played at the burning....the Oscar one...for Gimmie you understand. I know how he loves it.

1:13 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

The saint is poo Eva, utter poo. You were right to turn it off.

CL! I can't say a single bad word about Hansard, he is after all, a true ginger. Strangely enough though that particular song makes the Paramour's eye twitch.
If I go first I'll get him to play something by Maroon 5, that should help him get over my loss all the quicker.

8:15 a.m.  
Blogger Mrs Pouncer said...

This isn't "new" at all. The Old Faith has always had hard and fast rules about what is, and isn't, acceptable at funerals/weddings etc. In particular, the church takes the view that funerals are to do with the deceased, and should not be some sort of Desert Island Disc occasion for the mourners. In my experience, eulogies are more about the person delivering the speech than the corpse in the coffin ("I remember the time I ...", "Can I just tell you a little of my background ...", "I want to share my thoughts .."). The funeral should be short, pithy even, couple of solemn hymns, everyone in floods, two readings AT MOST, and then a magnificent wake. Finis.

8:34 p.m.  
Anonymous DeeDee Ramona said...

I would think that him playing a few bars of a tune at his_mother's_ funeral when his is a well-known musician, and no doubt his musical career was a big deal to his mother, I'm sure she was delighted to see him doing so well for himself, given that music is such a hard way to earn a living - is a bit different than having a musician hired for the purpose or a friend come in to play.

You'd think they could make an exception on this occasion.

12:14 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

Aye, but if you make an exception for him you've got to make exceptions for everyone.

3:41 p.m.  
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