The one thing that is certain in life is death. Fact. When I was ten or eleven years old, I sometimes used to cry at night, thinking about how one day I would die. To quote Monty Python:
For death’s the final world.
I’m a business analyst by trade. I’m not a tree-hugger. I listen to reports given to me about Sunray’s decline as he descends ever more into terminal alcoholism. For the German-speakers, we are talking about “Untergang,” which is quite ironic, as Sunray was born two days before Hitler’s death. As a practising Anglican, I don’t believe in reincarnation, but it does make me wonder occasionally, can a dead person’s spirit enter another person’s body and take over their soul? (A point to ponder some other time.) (I use the adjective “terminal” deliberately, for as I see it, his alcoholism is as terminal as cancer can be. Just like a tumour taking over various organs in a body and spreading, so his alcoholism is terminal (to me as a non-medically-qualified person). My business analyst approach is to ask:
- What is the problem?
- Is the problem solvable?
- If yes:
- How to solve?
- What do I have to do?
- If no:
- What steps need to be taken?
- What palliative steps are there?
(Maybe the business analyst approach is a coping strategy?)
So, that brings me to funeral planning. There’s rarely any fun in a funeral. Normally only the first three letters are “fun.” Sunray has named me in his insurance documents as his funeral planner. He did take out a funeral expenses policy some years ago, about six or seven, maybe eight, years ago. Whether he’s been keeping up payments is questionable. Whether the policy would pay enough for his funeral costs is also questionable. That means almost certainly a pauper’s funeral for him. None of his offspring can, or will, pay for his funeral. (Why should they?)
Nowadays the British authorities do not use the term pauper’s funeral. A funeral where the state (the taxpayer) pays is nowadays called a public health funeral.
Still in business analyst (and eldest child) mode, I have emailed bruv a link to the local council web page about public health funerals. Bruv has grown up a lot since starting university as a (please don’t laugh) mature student (aged 40+), yet remains somewhat inert and reluctant to get involved in messy admin matters, or indeed in helping others – unless it is to his own advantage. I’ve briefed him that he and I need to have a sensible, adult conversation about funeral planning.
For background, Sunray was warned by his diabetes specialist in June:
Stop drinking now if you want to see Christmas. [Note the verb used: not reduce, but stop.]
Clearly, we could all say:
My grandad died at 112, and he drank and smoked all his life, and, and, and, and…
but if Sunray does not have only weeks to live, then he probably only has months to live.
Hopefully bruv will show some maturity and discuss funeral steps sensibly with me. It’s in his interests. All he has to do is sign a disclaimer form for the council, and it’s all handed over the the council to pay and organise. I’ll even do the eulogy, bruv, because the council won’t pay for a minister or officiant. We are talking cheap, and not very cheerful. How many people will turn up to Sunray’s funeral?
- Ginge in Germany
- Bruv’s wife (maybe)
- Sis (maybe – just to get closure)
- Sis’ husband (maybe)
Not even double-figures.
Sunray’s siblings won’t know a thing until after the funeral. Three of the four have started punch-ups at their offspring’s wedding celebrations. At the last family funeral they attended, there sat four feuding family factions, one in each corner of the church. That’s a lot of alliteration, but there will no feuding at Sunray’s funeral. Everybody, no matter who they are, what they’ve done, deserves dignity at their funeral, before we commend their soul to the Lord.
Have a commendable day, won’t you!