LETTER: Sensitive ways to deal with death

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The Independent Online
From Mr Roy J. Ward

Sir: I read your leading article "Say goodbye to the British way of death" (31 January) following the funeral of my 28-year-old son earlier in the day. We all deplore the impersonal crematoria package, but it need not be so.

Our son was no "public figure", but we had a glorious day of celebration, music, memory and deep sadness that recognised both Christian and humanistic spirituality, which was highly personal about our son but did not ignore the existential questions which death inevitably raises.

The High Street undertakers were sensitive and accommodating to our various requests and patiently waited with us for 40 minutes at the packed church and the further hour we spent at the graveside.

Similarly, the Anglican priest was sensitive to our varied views and needs in planning the funeral, respecting our son's non-Christian beliefs while not losing sight of the needs of the many bereaved, Christian and non-Christian, to be ministered to.

I agree with your leader that there is a need for "access to a wide variety of options" but the wish to hand it all over to someone else still runs the risk of a kind of detachment from grief which is often the essence of the British way of death.

Yours sincerely,

Roy Ward

London, SE20

2 February

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