All in White Shall Wait Around...


"These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

Revelation 7:14-17 (ANIV)

I used this passage at one of the two funerals I have conducted this week but I never realised that at least one council in England is making sure that the departed are kitted out in their white robes before they are committed to God.

Apparently Kirklees Council have banned people from being cremated wearing their own clothes, instead requiring that bereaved relatives pay an extra £60 for a 100% natural shroud, which is not going to give off any nasty toxins. They have likewise banned the inclusion of any fluffy toys from grieving (or indeed deceased) children. The funeral I conducted at the crematorium this week was before I read this news so I haven't yet got to check whether Belfast City Council have jumped on this particular environmental (with the emphasis on the mental) bandwagon.

Now, its been a while since I've done any organic chemistry, but given the toxins that burning protein and varnished wood already give off, I would reckon that those emitted by a cremated polyester suit or pink fluffy bunny would be relatively negligible... OK, people should not dress the deceased in puffa jackets, shell suits and wellington boots, nor should they pack their coffins with 300 beanie babies... nor indeed include 2 cans of budweiser as I heard had been tucked in the armpits of someone who had managed to kill himself in a drink driving incident recently (nice!), but saying goodbye to a loved one is difficult enough without rules and regulations making it harder and less personal.

Because of changes in rules and regulations regarding depths of graves (and I suspect laziness on the part of grave-diggers who didn't dig the earlier graves deep enough) the family of the lady who I buried this week, discovered that whilst they had expected her to be buried with her husband in a family grave, that plot had been declared closed. So they had to bury her in a new plot, at the far end of the cemetery from her husband and siblings. This caused incredible stress at an already fraught time, and I was thankful for the support of a wonderful funeral director in doing all that he possibly could to remedy this difficult situation , although to no avail.

There are enough hurdles to negotiate at such a time. Being told that your loved one needs to be dressed in an environmentally friendly frilly shroud is an unnecessary one, and I trust that it will never become de rigeur here.

Let's leave the outfitting for eternity to God, and while he wipes the eyes of those who have departed, let us seek to dry the tears of those who remain behind, rather than wrapping them up in red tape.


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