My father’s death

The ACP offers sincere sympathy to our colleague Bernard Cotter and to his extended family on the recent death of his father, Denis. (Bernard regularly supplies the Liturgy Preparation notes on our website.) His father died unexpectedly, but peacefully, the day after celebrating his 98th birthday. May he rest in peace. Bernard Cotter has written the following about his father’s death and funeral:

My dad was 98 years old on Friday 22 May last. The following Sunday, I threw a party for him in my home here in Newcestown, which was attended by his nephews and nieces. He was in great form, singing songs and telling stories and posing for photos. I even opened the oldest bottle of wine I had in the house, and he and I shared a nice AD 2000 bottle of Bordeaux!
Next morning I visited him and spent an hour chatting and reminiscing, before heading off to a class reunion, which he was very keen I enjoy.
His favourite nephew was still in town and took my dad out to lunch. Before that, they took a tour of the countryside, visiting my dad’s childhood home and other places special to him. After lunch in the local hotel, as he was walking to the car, my dad suddenly felt weak, passed out and within about ten minutes had died, there and then in the hotel car park. He died without pain or struggle, perfectly peacefully. And he still looked peaceful when I came on the scene, about an hour later.
That evening the group who had celebrated the day before gathered to plan his funeral.
On the Tuesday, we brought his body to his home and waked him there for the day. People came from all over, to pray for him, sympathise, drink whiskey and tea and sandwiches. It was a beautiful sunny day.
Next evening, we had a viewing in the local funeral home, after which we carried him across the road to the parish church in Dunmanway, with guards of honour provided by sports clubs with which he was associated, and the local bridge club which he helped found, and a group of teachers (he retired from teaching in 1981). I was proud to see his coffin honoured with our local town flag. Our bishop also attended his removal.
His funeral Mass was on Thurs 28 May: I presided at mass, but all my cousins and colleagues played roles in the celebration. Afterwards he was buried with my mother, who died in 2008, in the local cemetery.
His passing was almost perfect, and he was happy to go: he had done all the things he wanted to do, and retained his mental ability and good humour to the end.
At the start of the funeral Mass, his favourite nephew spoke well of my dad, then my cousin provided a commentary when symbols of his life were brought forward (a photo of my mom, a pack of cards, his songbook, a golf club etc.) . I was happy the liturgy went so well, and that it, like every element of his funeral, was very well attended.
I will miss him though. Your prayers gratefully accepted.

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  1. Joe O'Leary says:

    Another of the Great Generation… their example lives on.

  2. Mary Vallely says:

    “There is a comfort in the strength of love;
    ‘Twill make a thing endurable which else would overset the brain or break the heart.” (Wordsworth)
    These words came to mind reading Bernard’s moving account of his dad’s life and death. The deep bond between them is so obvious and despite the length of days it hurts so much to part. Would that we all enjoy that gift of a full life, well lived, with family and friends to mourn and remember with love, laughter and gratitude.
    Condolences indeed to Bernard and family on the earthly death of Denis. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

  3. Bernard, our sincere condolences to you and your family. Thank you for sharing this experience with us — the passing of Denis,
    a great and much loved man at the end of a life well lived. I think we Irish do death really well and I am a great believer in the tradition of the wake in the family home.

  4. John Dwyer Kirwin says:

    You were all so fortunate to have your Dad for so long and so well. Thank you for your note about his funeral celebrations. It makes one want to be there. peace and prayers, jdk

  5. Soline Humbert says:

    Bernard,thank you for writing this lovely,gentle piece about your father,Denis.Your love for him comes through. You are in my prayer,that you may be comforted. May you know his abiding presence and love in the communion of saints.

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