Aitken reveals 'bizarre' funeral stories

EDINBURGH Labour leader the Rev Ewan Aitken has described some of the "bizarre ways" mourners have acted at funerals he has conducted.

Kirk minister the Rev Johnston McKay sparked a national debate recently when he called for non-believers to be buried by the state.

Added to this, the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors yesterday said the public's attitude was a "sad reflection of today's society".

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However, Cllr Aitken, who served Restalrig parish for seven years, said this was the "reality of folk struggling to cope with grief and death". Writing on his online blog, he said: "I have seen many folk act in bizarre ways around funerals: trying to jump in the grave; answering phones in the middle of a service; hanging on to the coffin and refusing to let go; collapsing in the service; laughing out loud at things that weren't funny; drinking cheap, fizzy wine at 9am just to get them through; asking for the wildest of music and getting into fights.

"I even had a stabbing at the purvey and much more."

Cllr Aitken added: "That's what happens because grief is tough. But the Church should not walk away from folk because grief is tough and they are struggling.

"It's the job of the Church to stick with folk at these times – no matter their belief."