When I became a mail-order minister several years ago and started officiating weddings, I knew the day would come I’d be asked to do a funeral. That day is here. A friend is setting up a memorial for C____, a mutual acquaintance who recently took her life, and she’s asked me to officiate.
Suicide may or may not be a taboo subject at the memorial. C____’s Tucson friends still aren’t openly talking about it, and no one yet knows if C____’s family, who will be here for the memorial, will want it mentioned.
I told my friend I’d do it. Now it’s up to the family. If they want me to officiate at their daughter’s memorial, I’ll have to broach the subject with them. I’ll comply with their wishes, of course.
At first I considered saying no. C____ was a member of the local Hash House Harriers club. That’s how I knew her, but I didn’t know her well, and I haven’t been out with that group in at least two years. Also, I’m not a believer. When people ask me to perform weddings I’m always up front about that: I tell them if they’re looking for religious sanction I’m not the guy they want.
No problem, my friend explained, C____ wasn’t religious. Okay, then. That, plus the fact I’m not one of her close friends and am a little distant from the club through which we knew each other, might make me the right guy, in some hard-to-explain way, to say the formal words at her memorial service. I think C____ would be cool with it … I couldn’t do it otherwise.
Suicide? It’s a profound shock when someone you know chooses that option. I’m deeply sorry C____ chose that way out of her troubles, but it was her decision and I have to respect and accept it.
Don’t any of you do it, though. Please?
© 2015, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.