Laughter at funerals.

I applaud it.

While for some it may seem the inappropriate venue for laughter and smiles I embrace the shift toward the whole ideal of "celebrating" the life of someone whose life has ended, rather than gloomily mourning it.

Which does not mean there will be no time for tears, because as those fun days and tales gone by are recalled the voices of those delivering the memories will often shudder and break — and there will be tears.


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Which is natural and equally welcomed, because as a celebrant once said tears can be a sign of strength — of the emotions and devotions possessed and cherished by people.

I have been to many funerals, and I daresay many out there have also done their attendance bit through the years as life continues to weave its course, and I have sensed this shift to staging a celebration where laughter and grins set the scene, and one's strength, for that final departure from the chapel or wherever.

When an old biker chum died we waited for about eight minutes after the scheduled start time for his service...some glances at watches as well as at the funeral director folk who did not seem too unsettled by the delay.

Then he was brought in, and the opening line from the chirpy celebrant was that he'd always said he'd be late for his own funeral.

The service began with a grand round of laughter, and it wrapped up that way also as he was taken out to some crazy tune.

Because that was the way he wanted it.

At another service I attended the chap who had battled illness for several months before leaving this thing we call the mortal coil actually spoke.

He'd recorded a message to say we should wrap this up as quickly as possible and head off for the drinks his family had sorted for later.

It was astonishing and it was funny...but tinged with a nudge of sorrow to hear him there at his own "do" as he described it on tape.

At another I attended the at rest dad's son told of how he entertained them as kids with farts...and proceeded to verbally run through a selection of his father's favourite "tunes".

Again, laughter and nodded acknowledgement that that was what our late chum had wanted to be told.

Because he always liked a laugh.

The sorrow will emerge of course, as siblings or partners and friends recall the good times they had and how they miss that company they never thought would end.

Last week I joined several hundred people to celebrate the life of a truly remarkable and good man.

I'd known Phil Lowrey since he first played for Napier City Rovers back in 1987, before he took a break out of town before re-joining the club again in 1992.

And they enjoyed a golden reign and Phil, who was a fine and fair player, was part of it all.

Every time I encountered him he produced a smile.

And when he broke into a smile it was quite simply infectious.

He had been battling a dreadful illness for a couple of years but right up to the end was more interested in how his visitors who called by to see him were getting on.

Self-pity did not exist in Phil's handbook.

And as his brother James put it when he spoke, he never lost his wit and humour, right to the end.

Which is what his good mate Danny also underlined during an address which at times brought the house down with laughter.

He'd glance at Phil's casket and grin and roll out another yarn for a mate who loved to laugh, dance (badly) and simply embrace all that was good about life.

Phil's wife also drew laughs with direct-from-the-heart stories of her and Phil's life together, it was as cheerful as it was occasionally emotional...and their daughters took the same was about the good times and the great times.

It was all how it had to be, and the way Phil wanted it to be.

As the celebrant so accurately pointed out, his was a journey through life with three 'F' ingredients.

Fun, family and football.

It was a worthy celebration of a good man's life, and that is how these occasions best flow.

Good remembrance of good times, and it was clear from the big turn-out that Phil touched a lot of people.

And he left them smiling.