Today I went to the funeral of a some time professional colleague who committed suicide after one too many calls on his margin loans. It was unbearably sad, as he left a young family – four children from 9 to 21, and a school and sporting community that he had been a pivotal part of. The eulogies, as at all funerals, were full of praise for what a wonderful, friendly guy he was. And in this case, they were all true – as could be seen by the enormous crowd who turned out to farewell him. I remembered him as having taken me under his wing, 20 years ago, when I started joining professional committees – he was always willing to give time and genuine interest to anyone around him.
The service was at one of the lovely old churches in the city, with hymns, and a thoughtful pastor. And it occurred to me (I’m pretty close to an atheist these days) how comforting religion can be at a time like this. A beautiful, ready made space for people to gather in. A ritual that can be used, without having to be creative, or thoughtful, at a time when the bereaved are only just holding it together. Being able to sing some of the wonderful old Church of England hymns gave me comfort. And continuity – he and his wife had been married in that same church, 16 years before.