Colin Brazier, who has worked as a presenter for Sky News since 1997, recently lost his wife of 20 years to breast cancer. In the wake of her death, he has called for more traditional, sombre funerals in an opinion piece for the Spectator.
“When it comes to the conventions which increasingly govern contemporary funeral rites, I am ill at ease,” he says. Brazier decided not to give a eulogy at his wife’s funeral, a practice which is becoming more common.
“I tried arguing that such a contribution would risk self-indulgent prating, even if I could hold it together, which, in my case, I doubt.” Instead the priest presiding over the service gave a traditional eulogy summing up her life.
He goes on to argue against the new trend for colourful funeral clothes, asking guests to “leave their Hawaiian shirts and pink helium balloons at home.
“It’s unfair on children to insist that a funeral should mean rejoicing in a life now passed,” says Brazier. “There’s nothing funky about turning death into a fashion parade and a free-for-all of self-realisation.
“It is asinine and, if it inhibits the necessary catharsis of the grieving process, it may end up being a mental health time bomb.”
Surveys by ICM market research suggest that more than half of Brits want a celebration of life funeral. A 2016 YouGov poll showed that only a fifth of people see wearing black as a requirement for a funeral.
Brazier’s comments received a mixed reaction on social media, with some arguing that people should be free to commemorate loved ones however they see fit.
“Myself and my children had the celebration funeral for my husband last year and that is what we wanted, and my husband too,” said one commenter. “Everyone’s grief is different so no one should be telling people they are wrong and haven’t grieved properly.”
Others, however, agreed with Brazier’s comments that wearing black gives people permission to grieve properly:
“I have suffered three life-changing bereavements in my life so far and on each occasion I have longed for an outward sign, envied the footballer’s armband, wished for something that would let the world know that my own world had been turned upside-down.”
Whether you want a traditional, sombre funeral, or a colourful celebration of life, it’s important that your loved ones know your funeral wishes. When the time comes, they’ll be reassured that you’re getting the send-off that you wanted.
When you buy an Avalon funeral plan, you can make important decisions about your funeral in advance – and secure the cost of funeral director fees at today’s prices. Find out more about our range of funeral plans.
About the author
With a Masters from the University of Bristol, Jessica Hanson has worked in the funeral sector for several years, following the latest industry trends and writing about end of life planning. Jessica has previously written as a blogger for the Huffington Post, covering topics such as death positivity, understanding grief and how funerals are changing. You can find Jessica on LinkedIn and Twitter.