Death and no entry signs

Well I've been the silent iTalker for the past ten days. I hope you won't feel you've been locked out. You know felt that a no entry sign had appeared on the blog. Anyway, don't be mislead I haven't really been silent or dodging the work. I put in two shifts at NEXUS, last weekend, followed by a morning stint at St Andrew's University last Sunday, speaking to students in training for the ministry. Last week I was at planning meetings for the CWW events that are coming up in January and May next year. And I had a speaking engagement in Aberdeen yesterday morning sharing with over a hundred men who had met to pray for their city. I returned for the evening and shared in a supper last night at the church promoting our last visit to India. I also conducted a funeral mid week for a lady who was so full of life but who died in her sleep. She was younger than I am. The church was packed just a few empty seats down near the front. Why is it that no one wants to sit near the front. They prefer to stand at the back? It's as though there was a no entry sign placed at the front of the church. three-coffins.jpg I wonder if it is about looking in on grief rather than engaging with it. There is definitely something about death and dying that people as a whole would ignore if they could. We have made this whole area of grieving into a great guilt complex. I know people who are afraid to say how they are really feeling because they feel that people don't wish to listen or engage with the fact that they have been bereaved. I think we need to let people have time to grieve, have time to reflect on the loss of a loved one without feeling guilty. Loss and disappointment and how it all relates to faith takes time. I think there is definitely room to discuss this topic a little further in my next post.

Posted By: italker   On: 8 Sep 2007   At: 10:05am

great to hear from you again Paul. Its good to get a “view from the pew” I think you are right about people not wanting to intrude on family grief. I have also noted on people’s faces a sense of what i can only call” sober realisation” by this I mean we all have to go this way.


Posted By: Paul   On: 7 Sep 2007   At: 5:53pm

In the thankfully few funerals I’ve been to, something which unfortunately for you is part of your work, so you will see it more often than I will ever have to.

There is a certain unwritten code when it comes to funerals, and I believe this is what you have come across.  The front is for the family, and you feel like you dont want to intrude on their privacy.  If you are just paying your respects… stand or sit at the back, and if you are a friend.  Somewhere in the middle is fine.


It’s not so much trying to distance yourself from death, in as much as paying respect to the persons family who are left behind.


Ultimately how far forward you sit depends on how far forward the persons family wishes to sit, then everyone else will likely fill in the seats behind in order of closeness to the family.


In another context at your watchnight service I witness a similar phenomenon, and I basically put it down to stage fright, and being too close to the minister where you may get asked to do something when all you want to do is sit and enjoy the service or somehow draw your eye.  For better or worse people view the minister as an authority figure, and there is likely an element of subconscious fear or “aura of respect” which perpetuates probably from historical “fire and brimstone” stereotypes rather than anything you have actually done.  The latter probably ties into funerals as well.

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