What Roisin wanted axed were greetings cards with writing already inside them – you know the ones, we’ve all had them. Inside are printed words to convey sentiments for special occasions, written in such a lovely, loopy italic pink font (also with too many adjectives). Ah, those cards!
Listening intently, I couldn’t help but think these notions are verbal too. We find ourselves repeating clichés at such times, whether that’s ‘get well soon’ or ‘best wishes on your birthday’. Or, concerning our line of work, ‘I’m sorry for your loss’ or ‘he’s gone to a better place’.
Really? Do we really know that they have? No we don’t.
The question I’m trying to raise is: does the over use of a phrase dilute its sincerity? And how do we avoid hackneyed remarks? In the case of a greetings card I think it’s fairly simple – write it yourself. For a funeral however, it will take more thought.
Please click to enlarge the image.
This picture is a sign a family pinned up at the entrance to one of our burial grounds before the funeral. I think it may have taken some guests by surprise, but then I think it’s quietly brilliant too. It asks that guests leave any pretence and prepared words at the door; it’s only you from here on in. It’s like a news reporter’s auto-cue failing, or a footballer forgetting his lucky boots. There’s nothing to rely on.
What it really does is make you think. What do you want to say? How have you been feeling? And these are really what people want to hear. Leave the formalities to the FD’s. Funerals are a time for sincerity and for words from the heart. There won’t be another one.
But am I being impractical? For a guest at a funeral it can be very hard to know what to say and do, when to approach the family, and how to say goodbye. A small remark lets those grieving know you’re there.
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