Before I embarked upon this marvellous ministry of mine, I would have told you that the happy bits would have been found in the planning of weddings and baptisms, with the sad times confined to the planning and delivery of funerals.
During my House-Move-Sojourn, the thing I missed a lot was delivering funerals. I am something of a fan of the pastime - not because I am morbid, and not because it suits my dark attire. I gain no particular pleasure from witnessing the agonies of the grieving relatives - although at all times it is a treasured privilege to be trusted with it.
The simple fact, quite unexpectedly, is that in the planning of funerals, I do most of my laughing (in the work arena).
Typically, my means of bring such a service together is to visit the home of the nearest and dearest. The framework of the conversation is set by the need to formulate an order of service, confirm choices of music and 'performers' plus the most important - and often unsaid - thing: that I render the deceased no longer a complete stranger to me. I have to be a sponge for every little anecdote, sentiment (expressed or implied), biographical tidbit. In many ways, I need to get a feel for the person if I am to do justice to their final journey.
The plain and simple fact is that these meetings are more often than not permeated by much laughter. I have been trying to think why this may be, as I am in all senses very respectful of the family's bereavement at all times. That is to say, I don't walk in and launch into a Stand-Up routine. The laughter comes quite spontaneously, and think it is born of several factors: relief (that the service is now organised), permission (to think about the person who has died without coyness, as that is what I have to ask them to do), the joy born of love (people tend to remember the joyful and the amusing, not the dark and painful), that humans are generally perverse creatures and this is manifest in our testimonials, and most importantly - when we talk about someone who has died (and I mean really talk about them), we re-enliven them. It might be all of those things, or none.