Sunday, November 26, 2006

Have I got it wrong?

The impact of my husband's funeral on my life has been unexpected in many ways. It was a sad but wonderful day, in which his own family and the family of his church came together, all contributing, all much moved by the occasion, and well pleased to be united at this time, though they were not, sadly, in his lifetime.

At the age of 16, I had found it impossible, logically, to believe any longer in the Christian god, and have since then called myself an agnostic, whilst leaning from time to time towards a number of other belief systems. This difference between us might have been an insuperable obstacle, but somehow we made it work, at least while we raised our children, though I believe it was always a great sadness for my husband that I could not share his faith.

Over the years, I have often been aware of how much was missing from my life by not being part of a church family. With the funeral, during the arrangements, on the day, and afterwards, this has been brought into really sharp focus, as I came to appreciate fully just how much his church meant to him, and how much he was valued by the church.

Can we not create such communities around other focal points? We can be good, caring, generous and honourable people without being Christians, and yet we do not seem to find the same all-embracing commitment, cohesiveness and purposefulness in, say, the Women’s Institute, or other social bodies of people. Or do I do them an injustice?

Some of our friends left the funeral saying that they wanted one just like it! What I do know is that there is no local community at present which will join with my family to celebrate my life, as this church community has done for my husband. Mind you, he was a very special man, in ways which I could not aspire to, but even so ………


m said...

I totally agree with you!

I am an agnostic and I sometimes consider joining a church for the community.
But I feel like I would be a hypocrite because I don't believe in a Christian God exclusively.

I suppose, we all have our journeys on this earth and some of us are church goers and some of us are not.

KeithD said...

I've said this before, Judith: funerals are for the living, to help them come to terms with their loss. Those you leave behind will surely organise whatever they need. I suggest you make them aware of your wishes but don't seek to impose them.

We held my mother's funeral last Thursday; we three sons all said our personal piece about Mum and read out messages from people who couldn't be there, and two of our ex-wives and one of Mum's two granddaughters also spoke. For music, we began and ended with two of her favourite operatic arias, and in the middle we played Ill Wind by Flanders and Swann. It was a lovely funeral, everyone agreed, and nothing like the impersonal, distant, vicar-led ceremonies for my father and grandmother, which I thought were utterly inappropriate.