Monday, 25 July 2011

Passed Unnoticed

Anyone familiar with prayers that I lead will attest to the fact that I invariably pray for those "who have died alone and unnoticed, un-mourned or whose faith is known to [God] alone". They are not my words, and I can't remember how I came by them, but it is an important sentiment to me, at least.

Throughout our lives we ponder our demise and wonder not so much what will happen but what our dispatch might be like. What will people say at my funeral? Will there be many there? What music should I have? 

...those sorts of things. 

I doubt that anyone ever thinks that when they die that they will lay undiscovered for weeks, and that when finally sent off from this world will be accompanied solely by a well-meaning priest and the funeral director. Sadly, one such person will leave this life in that way this week, with my role being the well-meaning priest. 

The person concerned lived a long life, will have done many things - some good and some bad. They may have had children and therefore breathed life into a new family that might yet be growing and thriving. They may have given pleasure through kindness to many people, by simple acts of goodness perhaps. They may have given all that they had to charity. They will have made human mistakes, some lesser and some greater. They will have had loves, favoured things. They will have thought myriad thoughts about many things. 

And I do not know about a single bit of any of it. I know his name, that's it. 

It is not un uncommon thing either. There is a lady who works for this Council (and there is one who will work for all other Councils) whose job is to arrange for someone to give a fitting funeral to people who apparently have no-one. My former neighbour was one such recipient of that service. Her family came forward far too late (just in time for the Will, it seems), and all we 'had' was our memories as next-door-neighbours. She died and lay undiscovered for far too long and died in the worst of circumstances - in pain and alone. 

So, this man who I never knew will have a simple funeral without music, without the lyrics of my normal eulogising.  In the end, it will be as if he was never there, and it seems to me such a tragedy. For this if nothing else I give thanks for my belief that God knows him and welcomes him home. For my part, he will get the best that I can possibly offer. 


  1. I had with someone who worked for me, who had had a disagreement with his mother and had not seen her for several months.

    Then she was found dead, alone in her flat, and had been deceased from about the time of their disagreement.

    The suffering for him and his family was tremendous, complicated by the decision of the Coroner to hold an inquest, delaying the funeral for several months. No closure for the family.

    Fortunately, he was an Anglican, although not a regular church goer. We got his Vicar involved and she was a tower of strength and support to the family throughout the process and held the funeral and memorial service in their parish church.

    Now the whole family attend church as an outcome. Slowly recovering and still supported by their Vicar. This experience was an eye opener for me on the sort of Pastoral Care given freely, to anyone who asks by the Clergy. I know that I couldn't have coped,I was to close to the person involved. But I still had a pastoral responsibility for him in the work context. Unfortunately, I retired before he was well enough to come back to work. But we remain in touch as he counts me as a friend, as I do him.

    God's love and grace touches so many in tragic situations - and helps them through. But they need to be open to it.

  2. Tough call for you David. I pray you may know God's grace and strength in this sad situation.

  3. I am glad that they will have someone who is so caring to officiate. I know you will afford them the dignity that was lacking in the manner of death.

  4. You have reminded me of something similar here. It's an appalling thought that we might die without a single mourner or friend to wave us off. Lively post David

  5. To anyone who may read this 'after the fact':

    The coffin entered the chapel to the Air from Suite No. 3 in D by Bach. The Funeral Director, chapel attendant, the bearers and I sang Love Divine. The Committal was to the music of Adagio by Barber and we concluded the service with In Paradisum by Faure. It was full funeral, with prayers and Sermon - and at the very least I will always know we gave him our best.

    Rest in Peace Victor.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...