The Power of a Procession
Ican recall when I was around 8 years old, walking with my dad when we saw a long procession of vehicles coming our way. He told me we should stop and show our respect, as it was a funeral procession. He pointed out the long shiny black car and told me it was the hearse that was carrying the person who had died. He explained that all the other cars following with their lights on were that person’s family and friends and that they were processing together to the cemetery to bury their loved one. I remember they were all driving very slowly, much slower than the other cars usually did on that road. Most cars were letting them go by and some were even pulling over or stopping to avoid disrupting this respectful journey. I knew this was an important event and
was in awe of how everyone just knew what to do to show their respect. They too must have had dads who taught them about funeral procession respect when they were my age.
It was not too long after this, I attended my grandfather’s funeral and experienced being a part of a procession first hand. There was a powerful feeling of importance and community as I noticed the immediate attention from those on the road and sidewalk. Cars letting us go by, people on the street showing their respect; one man even removed his hat as we passed. My grandpa was certainly worthy of this recognition and effort and I remember feeling so proud. It felt right. I wonder what has changed since then. It wasn’t that long ago… this story is from 1984.
Now that I am in funeral service, I have had the honour of being a part of many funeral processions. I still find myself filled with a sense of pride as we lead our cortege of professional vehicles through the community, with family and friends following in such a traditional and respectful way. But unfortunately that feeling gets interrupted more and more it seems, as the years go by. People do not slow down anymore, stop or let you go by. In most cases I find they actually speed up to get around us, to not get “stuck behind” our procession. It makes me sad. And if it makes me sad, how does the family feel?
In a feedback survey Sands received from one of our client families, we found out. We were pleased to read the positive comments about our staff and services, but one comment that was made, we discussed as a team in length. It read: “I know it is difficult, but it would be nice if there was a way for us to follow the hearse without other cars cutting in on the way to the burial site”. This was the procession experience for this family, a very different one than mine in 1984.
Although we do our very best as funeral professionals to keep the procession together, ultimately if someone wants to cut in, they will. So after reading this, perhaps together we can help to change this fading community support for such a powerful tradition. And if you see a procession coming your way or in your review mirror… take a moment as we travel by to the final resting place, to show your respect to the family and to the person we are honouring, who is being carried in the long shiny black car.