The effect of leading a funeral on Ash Wednesday is not the most cheering one, but it has got me thinking about how we say our goodbyes to those who have died. When meeting with a bereaved family, where the funeral is to be at the crematorium, one of the most contentious questions is “Do you want the curtain?”. For the uninitiated, this has nothing to do with nets, with windows, or indeed encores (although I’m sure that has been done!). No, the question is whether the family want the curtain to come round the coffin during the committal, thus removing it from their sight for the last time, or whether they want it left open, thus enabling them to go and say their last personal goodbyes after the formal service is concluded.
Everyone who has ever been to a funeral has a view about The Curtain. And so do I, but I shall keep it to myself.