I cannot tell you how often I have got emails from friends and acquaintances, telling me that someone’s parent is dead saying “I knew you’d want to know.” My heart kind of sinks. I actually didn’t want to know at all and I glumly go about re-ordering my week to attend the funeral or removal, thinking that if I hadn’t known, I could just have sent a card.
One of my most used websites is rip.ie which i basically regard as a public service.
In Ireland, there are a lot of funerals in your life; that’s just how it is. You are honour bound to go to the funeral of someone you know’s parent. Unless you’re abroad. It doesn’t matter where the funeral is, if it is a friend’s parent and the funeral is on the island of Ireland, you schlep there. Sometimes the removal is sufficient. For someone less close if you have to travel more than an hour, you probably don’t have to go but context is all important and at the very least, you must send a card. There’s a whole set of unwritten rules which only fellow Irish people know how to apply and they will know, if you’ve fallen short. By God, they will know. My uncle’s funeral was on the day we were moving back from Belgium to Ireland in 2008. By car with our three small children and all the possessions the movers were not taking for us. I think, quite genuinely, my aunt never forgave me for not coming to my uncle’s funeral. My situation was not helped by my cousin (also a niece) flying home from New York to attend.
I have no idea how many dead bodies I have seen. Loads anyway. Even my kids have seen at least five or six. When I was a child and UCC was much smaller than it is today, my mother would have a look at the flag on the mast on the quad to see whether it was flying at half mast; just in case anyone was dead.
One day over the summer, I spent most of a beautiful day in the car to get to the removal of the parent of someone I worked with years ago. I was filled with rage. But when I got there I met loads of people I knew; the daughter of the dead woman was really pleased to see us all and I think it made a real difference to her at a horrible time. And I remembered all the random children of her friends who took time to come to my aunt’s funeral over the summer and how nice it was for us to have them there.
So, I suppose, yes, they’re all right, I did want to know after all.