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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Monday, February 14, 2005
    We're rubbish when it comes to death
    One of the tasks of this very odd job I do is to respond positively and politely to relatives of deceased when they say to you, "We've got Dad in the front room if you'd like to go and see him." This is an invitation which cannot be refused. And so, in your complete incomprehension and overwhelming sense of inadequacy in the face of absolute mortality, you stand beneath a white cloth tastefully decorated with roses and look down on the dearly loved and lost one and find yourself uttering inanities whilst an alternative - critical - commentary plays out in your head.

    "Doesn't he look peaceful?" you say (Well, of course he looks peaceful you fool, he's dead).
    "They've made him look really nice, haven't they?" you say (Which is some sort of miracle considering when you think what an ugly bruiser he looked when he was alive...)

    Somehow (presumably beacuse they're just relieved you've generously opted to share your absolute uselessness and vulnerability with them) this consoles the mourners.

    Well, this afternoon Dad and I are off to see my aunt, his sister, in the chapel at the funeral directors. I'd like to imagine things might be different with her, but I doubt they will. I can already hear us saying it. "Doesn't she look peaceful?"; "They've made her look really nice, haven't they?" God help us. We're rubbish, aren't we, when it comes to death?