Paying One’s Last Respects

The remains of snow, perhaps.
Just a moment to pause, on the top of a hill (somewhere in Yorkshire) to mark the cremation ceremony for Norman Trewhitt in Lancaster yesterday. I attended via a live Webcast since I was not able to travel, it’s not the same as being there and in person but better than nothing. This remote attending at cremations is the way many have to pay their last respects, currently. The grief of seeing those spaced chairs, all filled, no chance for hands to reach out for comfort and support. The ceremony was conducted beautifully by Paul and Kate. We all did our best Norman.

I offered incense and a candle, which wasn’t possible at the crematorium, and sang and observed moments of reflection and listened to the chosen music and watched as the curtain closed and the people processed outside. The webcast ended abruptly. Then with a cup of tea and a piece of cake leftover from Sunday lunch, I phoned up a fellow webcast watcher for ‘tea’.

This was the story for a couple of other cremations further south on Monday, a mother and the other for a dearly loved life partner. Such events, cremations where just a few can attend are happening all around the country, all around the world. We show our respect or affection and love for someone who has just died by coming to see their body or grave.

There is something to ‘paying one’s last respects’, to travelling to a gravesite, attending a Cremation Ceremony, a funeral, a scattering or interring of ashes. But there is never a LAST visit is there. What has been, a life known and shared remains and travels into the future as memories? That’s natural, normal and part of living. Part of being alive and forming attachments.

One day when I was young in training one of my fellow monks quoted a saying by Zen Master Dogen to me, ‘attachment and detachment’ he said ‘flow together throughout ones entire life’. I’ve never been able to find that reference although I probably didn’t look that hard. I find it comforting.

I’ll keep that thought beside me when, once again, I need to be reminded to be compassionate for myself, and for others.

Thank you kind person for sending me the photograph. I’ve lost track of the location, sorry. I thought it fitting since Norman was a keen walker and fellrunner.

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7 thoughts on “Paying One’s Last Respects”

  1. What a lovely posting, Rev. Mugo. I was thinking of Norman and of the life partner that you refer to, yesterday. I will watch both funerals on ‘catch up’, when they become available, towards the end of the week. Mum’s funeral was lovely. We had a civil celebrant who did such a good job ( a young woman) and a female, lead pallbearer, (also young and beautifully dressed). We didn’t plan it that way but Mum would have really appreciated that. I wrote and delivered the eulogy and we ended up dancing to Bill Haley and the Comets, ‘Rock Around the Clock’. It was a laughter and tears affair. I’m so glad that Norman’s funeral went well. He will be missed _/\_

    1. Oh goodness, Karen, what fun to be dancing to Bill Haley and the Comets! I could say more but just wanted to thank you for leaving this comment of uplift. Such occassions do not have to be ALL tears.

  2. Glad I finally caught this post. It touches my heart. Because my son died in late December, we had a funeral in January. A Buddhist ceremony led by RM Olwen. His many friends, our many friends, our family. A funeral tea afterwards. A retreat with a number of Sangha friends, in a house hired locally by a lake. All a great blessing. And, pre Covid, just. My heart goes out to those who have not been able to attend funerals for loved ones. 🙏

    1. I was sent Rev. Mugo’s post by my daughter Alli which I found most healing .
      I found the Buddhist funeral for my grandson a serene and profound occasion which brought me some peace.
      I am so grateful to the Buddhist community for passing on the beauty of their tradition.

      1. Val, you are most welcome. I am touched that you leave this comment, thank you so much. I hope you continue to find maderial here that brings you peace. Today’s post might do that actually.

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