Perhaps the eulogy had to be discreetly edited, the processional music faded halfway through, the reflection time subtly abbreviated or the mourners gently nudged out at the end of the ceremony...
However it is achieved, it must be remembered that crematoria slots are usually 45 minutes and to overrun is the the show jumping equivalent of an undignified elimination - for instance, horse and rider ploughing through the triple combination and refusing three times at the water.
It seems to me that, after a lifetime of dashing about, our final journey should not - in any way - be rushed. Our loved ones should be able to have as much time as they need to say their final goodbyes - without even the tiniest hint of pressure to hurry up.
So the Colney Woodland Burial Ground in Norwich gets the thumbs up from me. Two weeks ago I was called upon to officiate at a Celebration of Life memorial there and was very pleased to hear that there would be no other ceremonies immediately before or after ours.
|The Woodland Hall, Colney|
The Colney team also confirmed that there would be no problem if our ceremony were to overrun the hour that had been booked in the Woodland Hall. (Which it did by a full ten minutes).
Family and friends were able to meet before the ceremony in the aptly named “Gathering Hall” for tea and scones - the latter being a favourite of the deceased. There was no sense of pressure to begin the ceremony promptly; and everyone was given as much time as they needed for these refreshments which were especially welcome for those who had travelled long distances to be there.
After the ceremony, the walk through the woodland area to the chosen spot to scatter the ashes, was also unhurried. It was exceptionally peaceful meandering along the path through the trees allowing each person to be alone with their thoughts and memories and in harmony with nature.
Some families choose to scatter wildflower seeds with the ashes and I am told that the bluebells are especially beautiful there in the spring.
While no funeral can ever be pleasant for anyone attending, it can be a strangely satisfying experience - a true celebration of a life well lived. By taking as much time as we need to say that last goodbye, it can also provide the opportunity of closure.
Walking away, I have a re shuffle of life’s priorities. I thought, in the overall scheme of things, how important is it really to be under constant time pressure?
And, most importantly, let’s always make the time to tell those we love how important they are to us … while we can.