Virginia Barton

12 May 2017: O Death, where is thy sting?


12 May 2017


Don’t you dare give me a “fun” funeral or put me in a “kooky” coffin or I swear I’ll haunt you.

This outraged opener is thanks to a piece I read in The Times on May 8th.

Do you ever get the feeling that you’ve seen and heard, smelled, tasted and felt everything? Well I do. This, however, threw me back on my heels. The headline read:

Fancy dress and kooky (what IS that?) coffins help put the fun into funerals.”



The Co-op, which arranges around 100,000 funerals a year, say an increasing number of adults prefer to celebrate a person’s life rather than have a serious, solemn affair. So “themed” funerals are the thing, with Batman, Robin or Darth Vader called upon to carry the “kooky” coffin to a hearse which can easily be a motorcycle sidecar. With music to match. Mourners may dress-up appropriately.

Are you shocked by this? Or do you save that emotion for pictures of famine, homelessness or pornography?

I suppose I am out of step with the vogue for trivialising what has hitherto been respected; the Royal Family, the Church, the judiciary, politicians. No doubt some of these august institutions deserve judicious criticism from time to time. And satire is fair play. But to rubbish them all, to reduce everything including death to “fun,” is dangerous.


Can fear be the driver? Trash it and it can’t hurt you. After all, this is the Post-Christian Era and it’s only spooky old death. Poke fun and reduce it to human-size and let’s have a party.

Dress: zombies, ghosts, skeletons.





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