Another visit to Streatham Vale crematorium to conduct funerals for those who have given their bodies for medical education and research. This means that the funerals take place several years after a person has died when the schools of anatomy release the bodies.
I was very struck this week by the story that one widow told me about the hostility that she received from ‘friends’ when she had told them that there would not be a funeral after her husband had died. I have not heard such outright opposition before. It is an extraordinary wait of perhaps 1-3 years for the funeral to take place. I can quite understand why five of this mornings eight relatives did not wish to attend. For those that do come there is a sense of wanting to be there to witness the moment when the body is committed for Cremation. Often all the remembrance and thanksgiving has already happened at a memorial event close to the time that the person died. But even so there is a need for some to come to the funeral and just to be present through this particular stage. The there is the decision about what to do with the ashes. Some collect them and organise a scattering or internment themselves while others prefer to let the Crematorium staff scatter them in the garden of remembrance. Grief and bereavement is a long process but with medical school funerals this is so obviously the case.