LETTER:Personal involvement is what makes a good funeral

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The Independent Online
From The Rev Struan H. Dunn

Sir: All this fuss about the conduct of funerals needs to be put in perspective.

I had to take a funeral for an expatriate in Spain and it took nearly a whole day to complete the task. When we arrived at the cemetery overlooking the port of Barcelona, the grave had not been dug. Any sense of dignified decorum was broken when the long line of mourners was pushed aside by four men pushing a wheelbarrow, making haste to reach the designated spot. Armed with pickaxes, swords and spades, they proceeded to excavate the old family grave. Earth, bones and debris went flying, while the chief mourner sat in silent resignation on a nearby grave, the coffin meanwhile parked unceremoniously against a wall.

Some stiff-upper-lip protests to the Jefe (superintendent) were met with the response "Manana" - come back tomorrow! A wise expatriate, however, passed 300 pesetas under the table and the commital was rescheduled for 2.30pm that same afternoon.

This gave everyone plenty of time to sample excellent Spanish cuisine in the city's nearby restaurants. We returned to the graveside, freshly dug, after the briefest of siestas and everything was brought to a satisfactory conclusion.

Yours faithfully,

Struan H. Dunn

Rural Dean of Gillingham

Wigmore, Kent

2 February

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