Tag Archives: funerals

“Before we commit his body to the ground ….. let’s give a big hand for Gypsy Rose Lee”

ITV News

China says it will crack down on strippers performing at funerals, declaring the performances illegal and a corruption of “social morals”.

According to the country’s state media, burlesque shows have been used at some funerals to attract more mourners and showcase the family’s wealth.

While the practice is infrequent and largely in rural areas, it is said to be growing in popularity.
In a notice on its website, the country’s Ministry of Culture called for a “black list” of people and workplaces that put on such shows, singling out a group named the Red Rose Song and Dance Troupe.

The department said the burlesque troupe had performed a strip-tease after a traditional song-and dance routine at the funeral of an elderly person in a small town of Handan in Hebei province earlier this year.

One of the Red Rose leaders was handed 15 days in detention and a fine of 70,000 yuan (£7,500) after being prosecuted.
Quoted in an article on the subject in the Wall Street Journal, one of the village’s residents said the performers were a necessity.
It’s to give them face… otherwise no-one would come.

Last updated Fri 24 Apr 2015

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

The Way We Were

  • It used to be the norm to have funeral services in the home of the deceased, prior to going to the cemetery.
    I was ordained in 1974 and worked in a rural Parish in Perthshire, centred on a reasonably sized village.
    A service would be conducted in the sitting room while the undertakers brought the coffin down from an upstairs bedroom to the hearse. Most often the “menfolk” would be in the kitchen when I arrived, knocking back nips regardless of how early it was. Everybody would then cram into the living room and I would stand in front of a blazing fire (which was lit for the occasion both summer and winter) with the back of my trousers singeing. We tried not to listen to the coffin bumping on the banisters on the stairway nor the sometimes desperate whispers of the funeral directors as they tried to manoeuvre the deceased round a curve in the stair. 
  •  The shops in the High Street would close and houses would have their curtains closed along the route of the cortège to the cemetery, where, most often, only the men would attend – leaving the ladies to prepare the “funeral tea” back at the family’s home.
    People would stop in the street.  Men and boys would raise their hats or caps in respect. Cars and other vehicles would give way to the funeral procession.
    This wasn’t all that long ago – and, now…. how times have changed amidst the hustle and bustle of contemporary life, where the dead are are seldom honoured as they used to be; and people selfishly ignore the sensibilities of the bereaved.
    Sic gloria transit mundi

1 Comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic



Yesterday was unusual insofar as I conducted my first funeral for over a year and a half (gone are the days when it was over one hundred a year and, on one occasion, an epic FIVE in one day)

It was also the first time that I’d been back to Roucan Loch Crematorium (pictured) since the funeral service of my beloved wife, Helen, in June 2012.

It went OK

Sometimes, professionalism kicks in

I conducted my mother’s funeral just a few years ago, and before hat, my father-in-law’s.

My father died in 1976 in Glasgow – on a Saturday evening. I left the family home late that night, drove the thirty-odd miles to where I was ministering at the time. Stayed up for several hours preparing a sermon, preached on the Sunday morning at 11.00 a.m, back to the Manse to get changed and grab a quick bite to eat, then back down the road to visit my mother.

Sometimes – just sometimes – you have to put duty first.

Leave a comment

September 14, 2013 · 16:43

Dr. Wolfelt: Listen to the Music of the Past, to Dance into the Future

on death and funerals

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

Dead Ends

The Meenister’s Log

The snow was falling heavily and the hearse was struggling to climb the hill.  Leaving the driver behind the wheel, the funeral director and myself got out and tried to push it up the incline.  Unfortunately, the hatchback door opened and the coffin started to roll out.  Tom, the undertaker, slipping and sliding and trying to push the casket back in, and me pushing him from behind, looked as if we were in a Laurel and Hardy short.  We had a quick short once we got back in the now mobile hearse – Tom usually carried a hip-flask with him.

Another funeral – driving slowly and sedately along a busy high street on a Saturday morning, en route to the crematorium, the driver of the hearse saw, walking along the pavement a real honey of a young lady wearing a pelmet as a skirt.  He slowed down even more to admire this beauty, and so, obviously, did the driver behind whose car ran into the back of us.

Now, this happened opposite a police station. Our driver went immediately across the road to be told amazingly to wait until a police car arrived on the scene!

It did eventually and our undertaker was breathalysed (no booze in his system).  Paperwork then had to be completed and witness statements taken.

I interjected “Can this be done later, please – we’re already running late for the service?

Police Officer: “Will it make any difference – the guy in the box is deid anyway… ten minutes ain’t going to resurrect him!”

A fellow clergyman was in full flow whilst paying tribute to the deceased, when interrupted by a voice from the back of the crematorium: “He was nothing but a lying, cheating, drunken waste of space!”

Minister: “Nevertheless….”

(alternative riposte:   “Well, we all have our bad days..”)

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic


The Meenister’s Log

It can affect young and not so young alike.

A colleague who must have been daydreaming, at the Sunday Service, after the first hymn pronounced the benediction.

Another friend routinely forgets to announce that the offering will be collected and has to be reminded by a choir member.

I once forgot that a troop of Boy Scouts, camping nearby, was coming to church one Sunday – and hurriedly, extemporised a youth address as well as modifying the sermon to be more inclusive.

Sermon notes have been left behind on the study desk -often.

On two separate occasions, a minister has not turned up to conduct a wedding and I’ve been asked to “come off the subs’ bench” to do the needful.

Several colleagues have gone to the wrong crematorium; I once went to the wrong cemetery.

One minister friend, at a cremation, got the name of the deceased wrong several times – until a family member shouted at him, telling him the proper name; thereafter, he wrote out the names in very large handwriting.

Well, we’re only human….. as far as I can remember.


Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

The Difficult Ones

The Meenister’s Log

Funerals are always difficult, and especially when the circumstances aren’t straightforward.

Some years ago a patient, who was known only as “patient X” died in hospital.  He had committed the vilest of crimes and was loathed by the community.

It was agreed that the funeral arrangements should be as secretive as possible.  The undertakers arrived at the mortuary on the day of the funeral, did what was necessary, and at a pre-arranged time I was to leave by a back door and quickly get into the hearse.

The drive to the crematorium took a while, with one of the two funeral directors “riding shotgun” to ensure no media folk or paparazzi were following.

By a circuitous route we got to our destination, only to find the doors of the crematorium shut and no mention of the time of the service on the noticeboard.

“They’ve forgotten about us!”

No,they hadn’t. It was all part of the secrecy.  The door opened ajar, then fully and in we went.

The funeral directors and crematorium staff left me on my own with the coffin on the catafalque and went off somewhere else.

Did I say the appropriate words and pray the appropriate prayers?

Of course I did.  He was some mother’s son, and one of God’s children, however flawed.  He had been judged in a court of law and found guilty…. so, who are we to make our own judgements?


There have been several funerals where the police have outnumbered the mourners.  There have been verbal insults traded and physical blows exchanged.  There have been mourners who could barely stand because they had been drinking since dawn. And, above all the rowdiness, they forget what the occasion is all about.

Just prior to one interment, at a distance from the grave, two brothers were arguing and pushing each other.  I went up to them and reminded them that we were here to pay our last respects and last offices of love to their deceased father.

It transpired that one son had stayed in the same area as his parents, but his brother had moved a distance away because of work considerations and had rarely come home to visit; his sibling had done everything for his parents by contrast.

Hence the recriminations.

I metaphorically knocked their heads together and some robust words may have been used.

“Forget all this nonsense – put on a show of unity even if it’s temporary – your mother needs your support at this time – now get over to that graveside and stand beside her”

And they did.  And do you know something?  Even though it was a sad occasion, the widow, looking at one son to another, actually looked happy.

They all left together and I hope that fraternal bond was re-established.


A very long time ago – no details – a young pregnant mum with her small daughter were crossing a road when they were knocked down by a speeding car.

The mother suffered multiple injuries and was hospitalised for many weeks; tragically, the little girl was killed, as was the unborn baby.

The church was packed to capacity for the service.  What does one say at a time like that?  What can one say that will take away the hurt, the shock, the grief, the disbelief, the anger and the appalling sense of hopelessness?

It’s at times like these that many people turn against God…. but this young couple came back to the church on several occasions, even although they weren’t members.

What a world of sadness this can be; what a world of hope that rises above the awfulness it could be.


“Tears in Heaven” is a ballad written by Eric Clapton and Will Jennings about the pain Clapton felt following the death of his four-year-old son, Conor, who fell from a window of the 53rd-floor New York apartment of his mother’s friend, on March 20, 1991. Clapton, who arrived at the apartment shortly after the accident, was visibly distraught for months afterwards.

Leave a comment

August 8, 2012 · 13:20