Deborah Kerr says Funerals are Barbaric

Hollywood – Unknown year, magazine.

Recently my secretary , who had been with me most of the 11 years I have been in America, died after a long illness. I pondered how to break the news to my two daughters, who had been very close to her.

The girls’ nurse came into the room while I was talking with Melanie, my 9-year-old and said,” The funeral will be on Monday.”

“What funeral?” asked Melanie, her eyes bright with interest. Francesca is 5, and not quite so curious.

“Vivian’s, dear,” I told her. ” You know how she has been ill for a long time. Well, she has died.”

Melanie thought for a moment, then said,” Oh,well, she will always be with us.”

“That’s right dear,” I said surprised and happy with her reply. “Her spirit will always be with us.”

What a wonderful reaction to death! I thought. Not many of us can view death with such wholesome clarity. Usually it is the very young or the very old.

My dear father-in-law has utterly no fear of dying.”What a relief it wil be!” he exclaims.” No children to worry about. No grandchildren to climb all over me. No newspapers to read with pages filled of cruelty and destruction!”

I can see how this splendid attitude toward death can also be given to the very sick.

Why can we view death without fear only when we are very young or very sick?

I believe it’s because we are every day instilled with the fear of death.

“Come out of the rain; you’ll catch your death!”, “I died a thousand times!”, “Don’t let death take your holiday!”

Now there’s nothing wrong with being cautious. But these constant suggestions that death is something awful build up a terror of dying.

Funerals are another way of making death seem odious. I think they are barbaric. I don’t want people moaning and weeping when I’m gone. I’d rather have them open a bottle of champagne and remember the good times we’d had.

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