Monday, 7 November 2011

Funeral today

My father-in-law's funeral takes place this afternoon at 3.15pm.

My wife and I will be accompanying the coffin to the crematorium as part of a small funeral cortège. As the cortège reaches the gates we will be met by a piper who will walk in front of the hearse as it drives from the gates to the chapel. During this procession he will play a lament, and this will continue until the coffin has been carried into the chapel and the mourners are seated.

The service will be a simple one. After the officiating clergyman has begun the service with the Welcome and Gathering prayer, he will read Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s ‘Crossing the bar’. He will then address the mourners and I will deliver the Eulogy on behalf of my wife and I. The mourners will then take part in prayers and sing ‘Jerusalem’. Because my father-in-law was a former solder, his coffin will be draped with the Union Flag and the Last Post will be played just before the Committal. This will be followed by the Reveille, and we will process out of the chapel to the sound of the piper playing ‘Flower of Scotland’.

I wrote the Eulogy yesterday morning, and it was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to write. In fact I found it more difficult to write than the Eulogy I wrote for my own mother’s funeral. To try to encapsulate the story of a man’s life in an oration that lasts no more than five minutes is not an easy one, and when that man lived for so long – and my father-in-law lived for ninety six years – the task is extremely difficult. I hope that I managed to do him justice. My wife thinks so, and that it probably the most important thing.

16 comments:

  1. That sounds like just the right sort of send off. I've had the sad honour of doing 2 eulogies, 1 for a friend and 20 year colleague who died decades before his time, the other for my father. Never easy to hit on what was really important but I'm sure you will find just the right words.
    May he rest in peace.

    -Ross

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  2. Hello Bob,

    Writing a eulogy is a tall order for anyone. If the "better half" is satisfied with your effort, then you have done very well.

    My condolences to You and Yours,

    Martin Meltzer

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  3. Bob
    If Sue is happy with your oration that's all that matters. Well done.

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  4. Thoughts and best wishes to you and your wife. Sounds like an entirely appropriate and fitting way to mark the life of your father in law.

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  5. Ross Mac,

    The Eulogy seemed to hit the right balance with the mourners and - most importantly - my wife loved it.

    I think that we gave my father-in-law the sort of send off he would have approved of.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  6. Martin,

    The eulogy I wrote seemed to have been well received, and my wife loved it ... which is the most important thing.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. Tim Gow,

    Sue loved it ... and getting it right it was the most important thing I could do for her on the day.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  8. Jfidz,

    Thanks for your kind words of condolence.

    It was a very fitting ceremony for my father-in-law, and reflected his life and interests.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  9. Masher88,

    Many thanks for your kind words of condolence.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  10. With very best wishes, at this sad time, to you both.

    It sounds like a most suitable service for an old soldier,

    as ever,

    Paul

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  11. Funny Little Wars - Garden Campaigns (Paul),

    Many thanks for your very kind words and condolences.

    When the 'Last Post' was played, there was not a single dry eye in the chapel ... and that included the clergyman who was officiating. It was both a sad and joyous event, and it was just what my father-in-law would have wanted.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  12. Hi Bob,

    A eulogy is a tricky thing to get the right balance with and inevitably certain compromises have to made in the interests of brevity. In my experience (I had the same duty to perform when I lost my mother two years ago) if those closest to you take comfort from your words then you have succeeded.

    I am completely certain that you would have done so and in doing so would have not only celebrated his life in an appropriate and respectful fashion but more importantly, given your wife the comfort of a lasting and fitting tribute.

    Very well done Bob and best wishes to you both at this difficult time.

    DC

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  13. David Crook,

    I think I got the Eulogy about right ... and my wife was pleased with the result, which is the most important thing.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  14. Conrad Kinch,

    It was not an easy day ... but it went as well as these things ever can.

    All the best,

    Bob

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