funeral - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
We stood at the front of the funeral. Everyone's heads were down. Maybe it was them showing respect of maybe there were too afraid to look at what was coming. The coffin was pulled from the hearse by six strong men, all wearing suits. The silence dwelled as they entered the church. It wobbled as they carried it to the front and gently placed it down.
The coffin was dark stained cherry and it was perfectly polished. It had a cushioned and silky lining. It seemed inviting. It was good to know that at least my sister was resting in a comfortable place.
I held my mum's shaky hand the whole time. She wiped tears onto her sleeve and rested on my shoulder. I kept it together until they passed a picture of her to everyone and that's when all the memories came flooding back like a tidal wave. Her face seemed so alive and happy and I couldn't help but wonder what she looked like under that closed wooden box. I stared blankly at it hoping that a miracle would happen and she would rise again and come back to the world, come back to us. But nothing happened. She was gone.
It's crazy how things can turn upside down for you. You see the person every day and suddenly, they're gone and when they go, a part of you goes with them too. Who knew where she was going to end up if there even was a heaven. I liked to believe that the place is inviting and calm and there's nothing but good in it.
Right now I am at a funeral. My best friend’s funeral… The magnitude of despair in my eyes must be enormous, you’ll suppose. But no. I am happy. Happy he’s gone, grateful he’s not returning. He was an incompetent bag of cells wondering in Wall Street of New York, aspiring to be a lawyer. But he was a business man, from experience and inclination. He’s father managed to subdue his great aspirations, and finally locked him in an office. He was probably crying while hanging himself from the ceiling, contemplating the floor. I managed to maintain my factitious face of despair and ache until the end of the service. His father lied a great deal all his life, but I can imagine that lying to a priest about his son’s suicide, in a poor endeavor to conceal that his son was a sinner, was the most harrowing thing he had so far done…
The funeral service was slower than a country bus, taking just as many detours. Everyone had a memory to share, a favourite hymn to sing. Whoever arranged it must have agreed to every request. By half way through some of the old dears were swaying on their feet and were it not for the keen spring wind pushing through the open church doors there might have been more to bury than just Edna.
Funeral insurance was the new thing pushed on the silver haired middle class. Leaflets for prepaid funerals accompanied their morning meals in every nursing home in the state. They sipped orange juice and planned a day they would never live to see, lost in thoughts of how splendid the flowers and casket would be. The poor didn't care, sentimentality was a luxury they knew to ignore. The rich had no need to prepay, the costs were a tiny fraction of the inheritance they passed on.
The funeral was all black clothes and white waxy faces, every one of them with puffed red eyes. I blame Don's baby face, like gazing at an innocent infant; but if they knew the man beneath the bonny face they'd be kicking dirt on his coffin with glee. Not me though. I knew the old bastard and I loved him anyway. This world can't be all cream tea and scones, someone has to take out the trash.
Funeral etiquette demanded Joyce visit the family, offer her best memories of Ted and attend the wake to provide sympathy on demand. She was after all a close family friend. But though she'd always kept an appropriate distance, her feelings for Ted were more complicated. He was there for her when others had run, picked her up when no-one else would. In her lonely hours she had pondered what might have been if his wife had passed first. Now those thoughts were redundant, he was gone and his wife remained. What she'd have given for just a single week with him as her man. Grief tore at her insides like a tornado, as she climbed the steps to his front door, yet before it could open her tears fell thickly and her voice became stuck in her throat. Showing her face to his wife was inappropriate, skipping the funeral was unforgivable. All things considered she walked back down the path to her car, perhaps a permanent distance would be the better option after all.
The sun shone brilliantly and the virescent colour of the spring day under it's glare was offensively bright and cheerful. It was as if they conspired to show me how the world would go on without her. It shouldn't. Everything should be as grey and foggy as my emotions, it should be cold and damp with silent air. But the birds still sang and the flowers still bloomed. I walked through the churchyard like a silhouette of myself, wishing I really was as insubstantial as the shadows so that my insides might not feel so mangled. As I took a pew near the front the long held back tears began to flow. I was not ashamed. I loved her. Now she was gone a light had been extinguished forever in my heart. I sat in my silent grief and awaited the start of the funeral service.
Struggling to hold back the grief, tears flow steadily, silently down immobile face, feel bruised inside, numbness, emptiness, walking behind mahogany coffin, saying goodbye although she is gone already, the soul unwilling to acknowledge the finality of death, never to look upon their face again or feel their embrace, see the warmth in their eyes, be surrounded by their love. Words from the minister, speeches at the service bring a fresh onslaught of tears, well spoken words, a tribute to their life and loves, everyone in black, dusky pink roses on the casket, watching casket lowered into the grave through tear-strained eyes. Good-bye my love.
And then the day of the funeral arrived and Alex found himself dressed in dark jacket and cords, preparing to leave in a black car that had come from nowhere surrounded by people he's never met. Ian Rider was buried in Brompton Cemetery on the Fulham road, just in the shadow of the Chelsea soccer field, and Alex knew where he would have preferred to be on that warm Wednesday afternoon. About thirty people had turned up but he hardly recognized any of them. A grave had been dug close to the lane that ran the length of the cemetery, and as the service began, a black Rolls Royce drew up, the back door opened, and a man got out.
To enter the cemetery I must skirt around a pile of brown frosted leaves, the innumerable flashing fragments shine in the brilliant wintry light, for today there is no weather; no wind, no cloud, just subzero temperatures. Even the leaf stems lie white and sharp. Ahead the path glistens like white quartz, yet ice crystals on weary concrete is all it is. All this beauty over everything dead. And here I am to add to it with a bunch of pink roses in my gloved hand. I pause, my breath rising in visible puffs, then I remember why I came. I need to pay my respects before we are separated by six feet of earth, while I can still imagine her whole, lying there as if sleeping. Along the wide central avenue the convoy of black limousines is already stationary and there's a crowd of people who really don't want to see my face. I was the girl who stole her away, who was more than a friend, who shattered their illusions and dreams. But I loved her entirely, her good and her bad.
Before I exit my car and make my way over the frozen turf I take my grief and ball it up so tight none can escape. I was never allowed to love him in life, in death it is no different. The zombie family step out of a line of limousines, every eye dry, every outfit designer. I cast my over my black polyester dress before applying black eyeliner. Before I know it the wintry air invades my lungs and stings my eyes, I walk briskly, head bowed, before standing several metres behind the official mourners. I had been so worried they'd run me off but as it happens they don't care; I'm still nobody.
The preacher begins to read a passage.My eyes become wet, yet I don't realize I'm crying until my ribs begins to heave like they suddenly weight too much to allow breathing. I turn to leave. Better they think me rude than heartbroken...
After decades of gluttony the tide had turned, cheap funerals were all the rage. Everyone from the queen to the pope wanted to be buried in a sack cloth it seemed or else just turned in to the earth in their pyjamas. Gone were the wooden boxes with gilded handles, no-one hired cars or wore fancy black clothes. They turned up in regular clothing with a daisy or buttercup for the deceased. Prayers were read, funeral hymns sung, fond memories spoken out-loud. It was an age of getting back to the earth, knowing our beginnings and our end, accepting them both with a wholesome heart. We come from mother earth, born naked and vulnerable; we return to her embrace as the same simple beings, sending our spirits to our Father above.
The funeral was a preacher and Kablo on the hill. One good book, one pine box and a pre-dug hole. The preacher did the best he could, gave the old boy a send off, before retiring to the pub with Kablo to toast his memory. Neither of them shed a tear, truth be told it was a blessing for old Tom to pass, no more PTSD, no more sedation, just peace.
The chalk sign in the high-street had said "low cost funerals." "No etiquette to important to ignore" would have been a whole lot more honest. In the end it was a tiny hole in the ground for a urn and a white plastic cross. The preacher spoke like he was being paid by how many burials he could process before noon and the hymns were truncated after just a few lines. Polly stood at the tiny plot feeling like she'd buried the finest soul on earth in a cheeseburger wrapper, but right before the tears began she found a small laugh in her throat, Lucas would have found the whole thing so funny, in fact he'd probably rather the burger wrapper than the urn. So she stood for a while crying, laughing, crying until her feet led her back to the bus stop.
The funeral was as pompous as the man in the box. Nobody had any doubt that the best dressed man there was the corpse. Instead of limousines there were chariots pulled by black horses and at the church there were more flowers than a high society wedding.
The cost of a funeral had been rising so much that prepaid funerals were an obligation as much as paying health insurance. Even a basic service was as much as a wedding used to be only ten years previously. With the new fees being tacked onto workers to pay back their childhood health expenses, nothing was free: pay to be born, pay to stay alive, pay for the disposal of your body. More and more corpses were turning up at the morgue unmarked for disposal, the relatives unable to pay the exorbitant burial fees. There were newspaper reports of some turning up of their own accord, gasping their last with no identification.
The funeral director wore empathy like his overcoat, just for work. It wasn't that he was a cold person, quite the opposite, but he had to find a way not to be drained by constant grief. Stepping into the world of the bereaved, even just a fraction, day after day would wipe him out emotionally. He'd seen more bodies returned to the earth, more souls returned to the Lord, than most people saw sunsets. Today was no different. As the mourners gathered on the windswept graveyard his face was a perfect picture of controlled sadness...
Every time Horatio walked in to see Gran she asked the same question , always in the same tone of voice she used to use about groceries, "How much is a funeral?" Horatio would wince just a little. The answer was more than her life savings but instead he said, "Gran, funerals are free, didn't you know?"
Gran would shake her head, then brighten up. "No, Horatio. I didn't know. That must be new. That's good. I'll have some money for you then. A nice little nest egg for the new baby!"
The "baby" was already six years old, Gran somehow got stuck in the excitement of the pregnancy and never recalled that Miranda had been born. He nodded, "Yes, Gran. We'll buy a fancy pram..."
The funeral planner app came free with the coffin upgrade - a silk lining perfumed with lavender oil. There were so many choices to make and not a single one mattered. Camille had been all about simple. His thumbs clicked "next" over and over until the final screen showed he's ordered the recommended levels of everything, the bill more than he'd paid for their wedding. Her death was just another commercial opportunity, all he wanted was a quiet night under the moon with a shovel, a bible and bunch of sunflowers. He wanted to lay her to rest with the love she deserved, not get lost in a whirlwind of meaningless choices.
The funeral home had planned it all, right down to the live webcast of the service. Hugo wilted. Was it a performance or a farewell? In his heart he held off from saying his final farewell, that would come at her graveside when the circus in white gloves and stiff shirts had gone.
There will always be a part of me still at her funeral, listening to the hymn, "The Lord is my Shepard." It's the part that refuses to let her go, that needs our bond to extend past our mortal life together.