We do death well in Ireland, don’t we?
I mean it. We turn up at funerals in great numbers to support friends, relatives, colleagues, business acquaintances – anyone we vaguely know.
I remember asking an English colleague some years ago, if he was going to the funeral for the mother of another colleague with whom he worked closely.
“No,” he said. “I didn’t know her.”
I explained to him that it didn’t matter whether he did or not. He knew his colleague and he should attend.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” he said. “Why would I go to the funeral of someone I’ve never met. Anyway, I haven’t been asked to attend.”
He didn’t go. But he learned over his years here, that we don’t do funerals the English way.
Indeed, I remember at my own sister’s funeral, several people who had never met her, offering me their sympathies even though they had never met me before either.
That’s one of the things we’re going to find difficult in the current situation.
Families of those who die will have stark funerals with only a handful of people in attendance. Those of us who would like to attend will feel guilty not being able to do so.
But, of course, we don’t simply die anymore. We pass over. Or we pass on. Or we pass away. Sometimes we just pass.
We do death well in Ireland. We really do. We look after each other.
Maybe that’s why we have so many words and phrases to describe death.
Right now, I don’t want to lose my battle for life or succumb to disease.
Nor do I want to give up the ghost, kick the bucket, breathe my last, bite the dust, shuffle off this mortal coil or pop my clogs.
I will do my best to ensure that, in the near future, I’m not resting in peace, deceased, departed, gone, lost or in a better place.
I do not want to join the choir invisible, push up daisies or sleep with the fishes.
It is my intention not to croak, slip away or to meet my maker.
I will try my best not to be called home or cease to be.
I plan not to cross over, give up the ghost, go to my reward or check out.
I sincerely hope I don’t snuff it, that I don’t go home in a box or cash in my chips.
I don’t plan to enter the pearly gates or be taken from you.
I have no plan to slip away, to go to my eternal rest or to be called home.
I do not want to be brown bread, a stiff, the late Paddy Murray or become ashes or dust.
You probably think I’ve lost the plot.
But I’m dead serious.