We have all heard the old saying “laughter is the best medicine” but when is it ok to have laughter at funerals?
It is without much doubt that laughter is something we all enjoy. Sharing a laugh can be a bonding experience and can take the fire out of a tense situation. Misusing it however, can bring its own awkward situations and few could potentially be more awkward than at a the funeral service.
Can laughter at funerals be fitting in the Eulogy?
When it comes to writing a fitting eulogy for someone who has died, I always take my lead from the person who is the main contact, usually a family member. Sometimes it’s clear that humour played a big part in the life of their loved one and it seems a given that it should play a significant part in their farewell service. I think the key here is “appropriate”. If you take a look at YouTube you will find the tribute given by Paul O’Grady at the funeral of his dear friend Cilla Black. His rendition of a perfectly balanced and entertaining eulogy caused laughter throughout and he made no secret of the fact that this is what Cilla would have wanted. So why be gloomy and dark when this would serve no purpose and wouldn’t reflect the person’s bright and sparkling personality?
Of course I nearly always mention that the farewell service is an important opportunity for expressing the grief that you are likely to feel at the loss of a friend or family member. It is well established that mourning is an important part of moving forward and learning to live with your loss so it shouldn’t be brushed under the carpet. It often only stores up trouble for the future.
I find the most effective way to express grief can often be through the music. If my families decide they want a period of quiet reflection, just a few minutes to sit and recall their own memories in silent contemplation, we commonly decide on an appropriate piece of music or song which facilitates those memories.
Quite often, my families choose to have a photo tribute, a rolling display of personal photos which bring back many special moments and people in the life of the person who has gone. Sometimes these can be timed to change along with the music and this can also have a great impact on the atmosphere in the chapel. Families often go through their loved one’s photo albums and pick out the most poignant shots.
Music can bring humour to funeral ceremonies
]Music can also be used to great effect at the end of the service and once again, humour can really lift the audience as they leave the chapel. I have had a number of amusing songs like “ Goodness Gracious Me”, Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren and “ Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from Monty Python. It always feels so special for the congregation to leave with smiles on their faces, even when those faces are streaked with tears.