Warning: This resource may contain references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may have passed away.

The Funeral

[Episode 9 | 1928 : Bridie]

It is the day of Lorna's funeral and the procession to the cemetery is commencing. It is a tradition to celebrate the life of the deceased person by holding a 'wake'. During this sombre celebration, Bridie tries to console her sister with the help of Miss Miller.


The Australian curriculum: English

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The Australian Curriculum: English aims to ensure that students:

  • learn to listen to, read, view, speak, write, create and reflect on increasingly complex and sophisticated spoken, written and multimodal texts across a growing range of contexts with accuracy, fluency and purpose
  • appreciate, enjoy and use the English language in all its variations and develop a sense of its richness and power to evoke feelings, convey information, form ideas, facilitate interaction with others, entertain, persuade and argue
  • understand how Standard Australian English works in its spoken and written forms and in combination with non-linguistic forms of communication to create meaning
  • develop interest and skills in inquiring into the aesthetic aspects of texts, and develop an informed appreciation of literature.

English activities [5]

Activity 1: Funeral traditions
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Subtheme(s): Customs and traditions
  • Discuss what is happening in this clip and how it relates to the entire episode. Ask students to respond to the following questions:
  1. What is the most powerful image in this clip?
  2. What do students remember most vividly from the clip? Why?
  • After the class discussion, ask students to list the information (both seen and heard) that tells the audience this is a funeral, for example, the flowers, the black clothes, the silence, Bridie's and Kath's faces, the crying mother.
  • If students have not seen the whole episode, they will not initially know who the funeral is for. Ask them to write down at what point they realised this is the funeral for a young person, for example, the size of the coffin.

  • Ask students to list what information the clip gives about Lorna and the circumstances of her death. They should look for clues and write an explanation of what they think happened to her. 


Activity 2: Death and tragedy
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Subtheme(s): Language and scripting; Relationships
  • Explore the way in which Miss Miller tries to help the girls, particularly Kath, to come to terms with Lorna's death. Ask students to discuss the following questions:
  1. What does Miss Miller say to Kath?
  2. What does Kath think about this? 
  3. How do we know?
  4. Why do you think she feels like this?
  5. How do you think Bridie feels and why?
  • Ask students to look at the ways in which the filmmaker shows us the girls' feelings without them needing to say anything. As a class, talk about how Kath and Bridie each respond to the tragedy of Lorna's drowning. Ask students to discuss the following topics:
  1. How does death affect people in different ways?
  2. Is our reaction influenced by how well we knew the person and how close we were to them? Some students may wish to talk about a loss they have experienced and how they felt.
  3. What are some ways people learn to cope with the loss of a loved one?
  4. How can words describe feelings? Students should list as many words as they can that could be used to describe 'sad' emotions. Then they could explore some of these words further using a thesaurus and dictionary. 

  • Encourage students to talk or write about a loss they have experienced of someone or something they have loved. Ask them to write a five-line poem about this.
  • Students could research the poems of Australian writers dating from the period of the clip (late 1920s), including Kenneth Slessor, David Campbell, AD Hope, Gwen Harwood and Judith Wright.


Activity 3: Burials and rituals
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Subtheme(s): Beliefs; Culture
  • As a class, explore different cultural beliefs about what happens when we die. Ask students to research and reflect on what aspects of Christian funerals are evident in this clip, for example, the pine coffin, the flowers, the black clothes worn by the mourners.
  • Ask students to discuss how people can help those left behind when someone dies. They could:
  1. List some of the traditions for aiding a family that has lost someone, for example, writing a sympathy letter, sending a card, sending flowers, going to the funeral, cooking meals.
  2. Discuss the ways their family and community remember people who have died.
  3. Consider the meaning and importance of photographs, memorials, tombstones, shrines, plaques, statues and place names. Go for a walk around the local community to find examples.

  • In small groups, students should research information about non-Christian funeral ceremonies, for example, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and traditional Indigenous Australian ceremonies. Each group should report their findings to the class. The report could be a multimedia presentation or poster.
  • Discuss the concept of learning to cope with the loss of a loved one and how others can help. Have students write a sympathy letter to either Bridie or Kath with a condolence message suitable for the death of a young person and some advice on how the girls could cope with the loss of their friend.


Activity 4: Further reading and viewing
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Subtheme(s): Culture; Customs and traditions

(Note: This activity and worksheet relate to the complete episode rather than an individual clip.)

  • To explore the topic of death and loss further, students could read a comparative literary text that deals with the sudden and surprising death of a significant child character, for example:
  1. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (for older students)
  2. Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner (first published in 1894).
  • As a class, either read sections from these books or watch excerpts from the films and discuss the effect that the character's death had on her friends and family. Talk about the feelings that can result from a sudden death, such as guilt and blame.

  • Students should design and plan a memorial for Lorna. They should consider Lorna's accomplishments, her character and her legacy. Ask students to indicate what the memorial would say, where they would place it and why.


Activity 5: Story differences
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Subtheme(s): Art, music and literature; Language and scripting

(Note: This activity and worksheet relate to the complete episode rather than an individual clip.)

  • Introduce or revisit the pages about Bridie (1928) in the picture book My Place.
  • Identify the differences between the film and book version of the story. Ask students to discuss the following questions:
  1. What is in the book, but not in the film version?
  2. What is in the film version, but not in the book?
  3. Why might the changes in the film version have been made?

  • Students could develop a short picture book (4–6 pages) based on the television episode about the story of Bridie, her sister Kath, and their friend Lorna. They should use text and images to construct the story.


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