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23 December 2004

My fatherís funeral yesterday. The odd thing, what felt really wrong was that we would only do it once. The dead donít go away, but they do stay dead; it seems perfunctory, to content ourselves - or them - with just the single funeral. I came home feeling that this should be a regular occasion, a cumulative measurement of loss. Perhaps I just donít believe in closure?

Or perhaps itís because cremations have such an unsatisfactory ending, a closure only of a pair of curtains. Itís not like a deep dark hole, and earth thudding down. Actually, my dad will be having a second funeral, which I could go to if I chose; his ashes are heading north to Orkney, where my sister will inter them in her local churchyard with a headstone and everything. This is a perfect solution to an irreconcilable difference; my stepmother and her family wanted a humanist service and a cremation, my sister wanted a Christian service and a burial. Both parties satisfied, I hope.

A sidelong view of families: both my stepsisters came today, with their partners and all their children, a full turn-out. Of my fatherís own family - his sisters, his children, his grandchildren and several varieties of cousin - well, there was me. I didnít mind, I could stand in for us all, and I do understand at least several of the reasons why, but it still felt like a statement of dysfunction. Another statement of dysfunction. Been like that all my life. Hey-ho.

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© Chaz Brenchley 2004
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.