Views & Reviews The Bigger Picture

Four burials and a funeral

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 25 May 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3241
  1. Mary E Black, public health physician, Belgrade, Serbia
  1. drmaryblack{at}

I cringe when I see relatives of the dying or dead ignored in hospitals, or when we expend huge efforts and technology on resuscitation only to treat the dead body as just something irrelevant and without meaning, and perhaps a sign of our failure to cheat death. Bereaved family members are as raw and sensitive as peeled eggs. Burials and funerals are healing rituals.

We were a bit stuck as to how to approach my Irish father’s death, with his four children and 10 grandchildren scattered across four different countries. In Ireland it is perfectly fine to …

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