Posts tagged: funerals

A mourning of winter sun.

By , June 22, 2011 7:59 am

It’s been two years today since I found him, lying with his face to the sun.

A father's note to his son

He was still warm, probably from the streaming yellow winter sunshine filling his bedroom with a golden light. He wore grey trousers and a Singlet with an unbuttoned shirt over it. On his feet were tattered slip-ons, and he had a happy, relaxed attitude; his left arm placed loosely across his chest in a comfortable position. One imagines he simply lay on his bed to wait and rest. And so he did.

I had been making a surprise video compilation for a friend of ours, to celebrate his impending 50th birthday. Driving around Brisbane over a few weeks to video record various family members and friends, I had spoken to his elderly father only the day before, to ask permission to call around and video his birthday message for his son. He was excited, and insisted he also buy a birthday card for his youngest boy. “I must write him a message!” he laughed, “Come tomorrow, I’ll even unlock the outside gate for you”.

“But you sound so good” I bargained, “why don’t I call around now, it will only take 5 minutes?”

“Tomorrow,” he insisted, “tomorrow I’ll unlock the front gate” he chirped. Having an elderly mother I know how important it is to grab them whilst they are fresh and vibrant, but it was no good, his insistence that I arrive at 9am tomorrow stood firm.

So there I was standing at my friend’s father’s old home, only one block from my own house, knocking on his front door. Sure enough, the front gate had been unlocked and opened. Grinning to myself, I called out. “Hello? Yoo-hoo?” but there was no response, no cheery reply.

Bored, I take photos of his gate, the letterbox, and some flowers.

I wait. A small black bird flies around. Not a crow, not a magpie or peewee, just a small black bird. I take more images.

More knocking. How odd. Perhaps he went to the bathroom? Perhaps he is out the back? I wandered around; knocking on outside walls (is he deaf?) banging on the back kitchen door, peering through windows to an old house, noting the plastic flowers in vases, a statue of Jesus standing in blue and white robes in the far corner of the lounge room, and pictures of family and grandchildren, but no sign of the old man.

Eventually, I ring the other son, the one I had recorded the day before. “I think you’d better come, he’s obviously been up, but now there is no sign of him anywhere, perhaps he’s fallen over?”

Thirty minutes later the eldest son arrives, flustered. He goes into the front room first, stops, and turns to me. Gesturing for me to approach the bedroom, he stands there with his face slumped and his arms hanging down.

He died with his face to the sun. On the chair beside the single, high iron bed, there’s a note.

“When the days make you frown
because they are all the same,
and it’s pouring with rain,
I hope you look back, smile at your thoughts, and be glad remembering
just what a good birthday you had.”
it reads, a shaky hand determined to show his youngest how much he meant to the old man.

Asking permission to take some images, I photograph the note, and a couple of quick pics of the room, in case there is an inquiry. I wait with the son until the Police arrive, answer some questions, and then I drive home. Such a beautiful day for death.

In a way it was a privilege to be there to find him quickly; with the winters sun on his face.

Rest now, in peace.

Here is the final video: Colin is a fine karaoke singer, so I thought it only natural we should sing to him! It took a lot of phone calls to Cairns, Hobart, and driving all over Brisbane, but I was happy with the results, enjoy.

My promise to you as a Funeral Photographer.

By , January 11, 2011 8:18 am

I promise…

I promise not to charge you for every little transition, edit, effect or pan and zoom movement when I create your funeral Tribute DVD for your Loved Ones. This is all a natural part of creating something worth watching.
I promise not to fill your screen with images of birds, sunsets, the ocean or clouds unless they are relevant to your Loved One. You are here to honour and remember them, not look at nature or butterflies.
I promise not to bombard you with trivia and details of DVD creation that you are unable to take in at this distressing time.
I promise you that if you request me to create a Tribute DVD, you can relax knowing it will be done and you will have peace of mind.
I promise you that if you request me to film at a funeral, you will know that I am quietly there archiving your life.

I promise you can rely on me.

I promise to use my years of experience to create a DVD you will watch, and love, and share.
I promise you that I will create a Funeral Memorial Book you will love, look at, and share.
I promise you that I will always be discreet, and sensitive. I too, have lost my Loved Ones.

I promise you I will respect your wishes at all times.

I promise you I will use the music you have selected where possible.
I promise you I will use the names, dates and any quotes, poetry, psalms or prayers you select within the Funeral DVD Video.
I promise you that I will always use the highest quality software and transitions to create a video worthy of your Loved One.

The future of Funerals

By , June 30, 2010 5:02 pm

Bruce Wadd is a local Brisbane Funeral Celebrant – and we met today to discuss the future of funerals and Memorial Services. 

Our business is funerals, and these days now belong to the Baby Boomers; the generation who re-invented everything;  from re-writing their wedding vows to holding Divorce Parties. 

Often families don’t wish to do the traditional Chapel or Church Service, and rightly so, each funeral should be tailored for the comfort of  Loved Ones and their grieving families.  If you don’t feel comfortable in a Chapel, or  if  Uncle Harry never went to Church, then don’t do it!  Go somewhere you all loved – a beach, a quiet park, a backyard.  Each Memorial Service can be tailor made to fit you, and your family.

Saying goodbye is never easy, so you can be assured you are in good hands with experience, knowledge, understanding and commitment with Bruce.  In fact, Brisbane has several excellent Celebrants, aren’t we so lucky?

It was great to discuss exciting changes and challenges in our chosen fields.  Love it!  Go visit Bruce’s website here and say g’day.

Bruce and Patty discuss the future of funerals

Brian Broughan, Amanda Webb, and Duncan Norris – Morticians

By , June 24, 2010 8:21 am

This is an interesting interview aired on 612 ABC Brisbane.

Listen here:

Duncan, Amanda, and Brian

Brian Broughan, Amanda Webb and Duncan Norris are morticians and embalmers. Their work sits somewhere between science and art but what they actually do in the mortuary is still mysterious to many of us, probably because we’d rather not think about it.

Brian has been in the funeral industry for 21 years and now runs his own company, Bayside Funerals.

Amanda, a mortician with George Hartnett Funerals, first undertook work experience in a mortuary when she was 16. Now 22, she sees her work as the best way she can help grieving families.

Duncan has described himself as “Best friend to the dead”. He is a full-time mortician and embalmer at Kenton Ross Funerals.

Meet Brisbane’s youngest Mortician

By , June 24, 2010 7:57 am

There are some jobs that many of us just couldn’t do – being a mortician is probably one of them. But what make a young person want to work with bodies?

Sarah used to work in cosmetics, but now she’s a mortician.

This is an interview by Madonna King, on 612 ABC Brisbane Radio.

Note that Sarah loves her job, and the passion and love that families show towards their Loved Ones at a funeral.

I totally understand, funerals are a beautiful expression of human empathy and compassion. Listen here: Brisbane’s youngest Mortician

Funerals, a chance to confess and redeem?

By , February 27, 2010 9:30 am

This is an extract from Father Bob’s wonderful website:

There were even more at a funeral on the same day – about 400, in fact. A working class man, David, aged 40, had succumbed to life’s pressures.

He had been in care for some childhood years, one of 10 siblings, but had, miraculously, gotten a trade, married and raised 3 children. The family had a house of its own.

The other siblings had struggled and battled just to survive. We buried one other brother late last year. David’s siblings asked me to state at the funeral that he had succeeded in his main aim of giving his 3 children the security and opportunity he never had.

They also asked me to tell the 400 mourners “No-one is to feel guilt over David’s death.” It was like a public confession and absolution.

Funerals, I believe, need that element of forgiveness and reconciliation. Funerals are like Lent – opportunities for “cleaning house” and starting a “bran nue dae”.
As we left the church for the cemetery, another local man approached to say his own brother, Mark, also aged 40 had been found dead that day and I should be ready to make arrangements for that funeral of yet another man I’ve known to struggle since we met in 1973. Rest in peace comrades.

RJM

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