LETTER:Personal involvement is what makes a good funeral

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The Independent Online
From The Rev Dr Paul Sheppy

Sir: I was interested to read letters from clergy suggesting that in their parishes care for the bereaved in the provision of funerals displayed the kind of good practice for which the National Funerals College is arguing. Martin Leigh (2 February) proposes some market research, implying that the results would be more positive than criticism based on anecdotal hearsay.

In the course of preparing my doctoral thesis, I had occasion to read some of the academic research relating to funerary care and provision. It is readily available, and much of it has been published in either professional journals or popular books.

The evidence I read and which I gathered myself suggested that clergy were more sanguine about their performance than their parishioners. Barely a minister to whom I spoke could refrain from telling me that he, or she, did "a good funeral". Their confidence was based upon the thanks they received from mourners immediately after the service.

I regard much post-funeral thankfulness as relief that "it" was not as ghastly as it might have been.

Yours faithfully,

Paul P. J. Sheppy

Secretary, The Joint Liturgical

Group of Great Britain

Barnoldswick, Lancashire

2 February

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