Opinion: The Irish way of dealing with death is a true constant in changing times
I've attended three funerals in the past few weeks.
Trust in so many of our traditional institutions has waned but the rituals around death remain reassuringly strong.
As soon as news of a death breaks, neighbours and friends drop what they are doing and rally around. Especially in rural areas.
First it's the women, with sandwiches. They always come first, followed by scones, buns, cakes, etc, accompanied with cups of tea and sympathy. Good people are always good people, no matter what.
Then the men row in. Depending on the funeral arrangements and the time of year, they might put up floodlights for the wake, throw down a bit of gravel, tidy things up, open a gateway that hasn't been used for years.
All these things are a practical necessity but what people are really showing is that they care for, and support, the bereaved.
Regardless of the circumstances, a funeral has to be organised. Hard though it may seem to be dealing with such a practical matter, it's something to focus on other than grief.
Even when the deceased's religious faith has lapsed, their funeral will commonly follow the format used by the family's prevailing religion. The religious aspect marks the transition from one state to another.