Tradition Seven and Funerals
Question 1 on Committee 3 for Conference this year was about the families of deceased members making collections at the funeral and trying to give the money to AA. As an Intergroup treasurer, I need to keep in touch with changes and improvements in the way we maintain Tradition 7. It is a powerful tool in the maintenance of the unity and independence of AA as being alcoholics helping other alcoholics. So maybe I ought to have a think and put pen to paper (or rather finger to keyboard!) and write a bit about this subject.
Tradition 7 is quite clear on this: "Every AA group ought to be self-supporting, declining outside contributions." Guideline 12 in the AA GB Service Handbook states that the only money that can come to AA after a member’s death is by a legacy up to the maximum of £6000. We even have a private Act of Parliament that allows us to decline other gifts.
Responses 1 and 3 to the Question mention the encouragement of members submitting articles to AA publications and the GSB explaining how donations can be made on the death of a member. I am not too sure if there is much to be said about this. Surely, the death of a member means that he cannot contribute unless he has arranged a legacy before his death. The family can make no donation, unless AA members. Response 2 recommends an addition to the leaflet ‘the Pot’. Unfortunately, the family may well not read this leaflet. One useful idea, which came up at some Pre-Conference discussions, was a statement circulated to funeral businesses explaining our Seventh Tradition.
To me, the Question actually asks if Conference would consider the preparation of a statement about acceptable and non-acceptable responses to the families desire to hold collections etc. The response mentions a possible statement for family members and quite rightly rejects the idea. The grieving family, having lost a well-loved family member may be hurt by a generalised pre-prepared response. As responsible AA members, we can surely be tactful and considerate in politely but firmly declining any outside contributions from any body. I should not need a prepared statement if I am familiar with the Traditions and look to my sponsor and others with experience for guidance if I am unsure. If this is the case, I can respond to a family with consideration for their feelings, while sticking to the Tradition.
I need to be conscious always of my situation as a recovered alcoholic and AA member. Traditions 11 and 12 may require my anonymity but individuals will often guess that I am an AA member and may judge all of AA by my actions. If I act without consideration for others, I could damage the reputation of AA and maybe cause another alcoholic to be put off AA and continue to suffer unnecessarily.
The Big Book says: “Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.” So if I can act with thought for others, there is a good chance that I can stay sober and enjoy a full and rewarding life in and out of AA.