SOME years ago I travelled by ferry to a Hebridean island off the west coast of Scotland.

When the ferry was ready to embark a coffin was brought on board and laid to rest on the crew deck.

As the ferry came in sight of the island harbour a large number of mourners could be seen waiting to meet the remains of someone born on the island but who had lived a life far away.

The coffin was carried from the ship to the sound of a piper’s lament while all the passengers, who were predominantly holiday makers, stood waiting on deck in hushed and respectful silence for a life lived and loved but unknown to them.

There they remained as the islanders processed behind the coffin through the village.

No photographs were taken but the image of silent passengers watching the coffin being carried up a hill to its resting place followed by a long column of mourners, silhouetted against the evening sky, is an image I will never forget.

Sometimes, perhaps, in our pressured and busy lives we can so easily forget what it is to be truly human – to love and respect others in a way we would wish for ourselves and our loved ones, not only in life but also in death.

I sympathise with the frustrations expressed by Martin Wilson but there are times when we are simply asked to put our wishes to one side for a while and suffer some inconvenience in order that others may have the time and space to celebrate a life lived and grieve the loss of their loved one.

Lesley Mather