Funerals can be a difficult time for anyone and for Sky News presenter Colin Brazier, the death of his 55-year-old wife Jo has been particularly hard on him and his six children.
While there’s been a growing trend of people wearing colours at funerals and making them happy celebrations, the 50-year-old wrote a piece for the Spectator where he said funerals – particularly the one for his late wife – shouldn’t be turned into a fashion parade.
Brazier’s wife of 20 years died of cancer earlier this month and although a funeral is being held in her honour, he admitted he was uncomfortable with many of the modern conventions surrounding modern funerals. He said his decision had nothing to do with religion, although a Requiem Mass would be held for Jo.
For one, he said he didn’t want bright colours worn at the funeral, citing that it would be unfair on his young children. Instead, he’s asked friends and family to wear black.
He said that while adults may be able to celebrate the life of someone who has passed, it’s not always that easy for children. Brazier also noted there would be a ban on balloons and Hawaiian shirts, explaining that wearing black gives people permission to feel sad.
It wasn’t his wife’s idea, although he said she knew the difference between a wedding and a funeral and would expect those who attended her service to reflect that.
The presenter also explained that he wouldn’t be giving a eulogy, despite being asked by several friends to do so.
“There is nothing modern, accessible or inclusive about me trying to stand up before a funeral congregation and tell them what my departed wife meant to me,” he wrote.
Instead, he said he would let a priest sum up if wife’s life so the funeral didn’t turn into a family ‘do’ where people share in-jokes or semi-private reflections.
For anyone who has attended a funeral for someone they loved or cared about greatly, it’s easy to understand where Brazier is coming from. In recent times, many funerals have ventured away from tradition. For example, a funeral director in the United States opened a drive-thru funeral home where mourners don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own car to pay your respects.
In China, the government was recently forced to tell mourners to stop hiring strippers for funerals, after scantily clad women in skimpy outfits grinding on poles at funerals became a trend in rural communities across the country. In some cultures, a bigger funeral turnout means more respect is being paid to the deceased.
It’s not uncommon for families to splash serious cash on opera performers, stand-up comedians and singers to encourage attendance at memorials.
“The old stuff — the black and the solemn — works because it distills the wisdom of ages,” Brazier said.