"Sir John called himself an atheist for Christ," the vicar said. "He always came to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. But he emphatically did not believe in life after death. My hope," she added, "is that he has had a wonderful surprise."
What, you mean she isn't sure ?
Given that she was a female CoE vicar, Norm may not be too far from the truth. But there's always another possibility. Maybe she was just being polite. After all, to have added 'but my fear is that he's had a nasty shock' would have been impolite at the least, no matter what her thoughts. Few are those shepherds of Christ's flock who'll front up a funeral with Isaiah 14:9.