Thursday, March 25, 2010


Have I ever told you how much I hate funerals? And I don't just mean that I dislike them - I assume most people don't like them, considering the subject matter - but I actually HATE them.

I went to a visitation last night, for the mother of a very good high school friend. The woman who had died had a lifelong battle with breast cancer. She was a kind, generous woman. One of those moms who was a second "mom" to a lot of kids, including me. So, it was heart-wrenching to see her lying there in an open casket (what is the POINT of these things???), and I had a hard time knowing what to say to the family, to my old friend.

All the cliche things come to mind - "Oh, she looks so good!" "She's not hurting anymore." "She's singing with the angels/hanging out with Jesus now!" But really, none of these phrases mean anything. And seriously, who wants to comment on the physical state of a corpse?No. I have real hurt for this family. I just said I had been thinking about them and to "hang in there." Just about the time I started tearing up was when I knew it was time to leave. Why add more tears to a family's suffering? I know if it were my mother, I wouldn't want a bunch of teary-eyed outsiders getting me all soggy and making me even more upset than I already am.

Besides, death makes me extremely uncomfortable. Like maybe they should write a book of etiquette for funerals and visitations - perhaps, a book of comforting sayings for the family of the deceased and the Dos and Don'ts of funeral attire. Seriously, are we supposed to wear black or not? And every time I see someone in jeans or overalls, I want to find their mother and slap them for not teaching them better. Even here in the South, we know to wear our church-going clothes to honor the dead.

I guess none of us really likes to be reminded of our mortality, or of the shortness of our visit here on earth. We don't like to see that our parents are beginning to look and act a lot like our grandparents were when we were younger. I think I like to live with the least amount of these reminders. Maybe that makes me a cynic, or maybe that makes me more human.

I'm not sure.

Note to Self: It probably doesn't help that the cop wants "Another One Bites the Dust" played at his funeral. Either that's really really funny, or really sacrilegious.


Meadowlark said...

I refuse to do the "viewing" part. Why would I want my last memories of someone to be of them DEAD? Weird. It's not like seeing them suddenly says "Oh, I thought they were just traveling, but now I know they're dead.". Duh.

I would prefer a wake with lots of cocktails and laughter and toasts to my beloved Corps. Don't think Husband the "hate to talk about death" guy is going along with that. But I've been training the kids for years, so there's hope.

Peace! :)

Maki said...

Oh MJ, I hear you, I do... I don't know what to do at funeral either. I've been to quite a lot of them for the past three years, all from my husband's side. I feel like me saying, "I'm sorry" to the family just don't add up, you know?

We all know we're mortal - it doesn't last forever. But I think in the end, I don't want to suffer when I die. More I get older I'm afraid of dying (not death itself, but not knowing my fate). Actually I just don't want to get old.

Paul said...

Funerals are tough stuff, even for us clergy-types. I appreciate your discomfort with "she's with Jesus" or "She looks so natural." And "I'm sorry makes it sound like you had something to do with their death.

I find saying something of how much the deceased meant to you and will continue to mean to you goes a long way.

I certainly appreciate your honesty and candidness in talking about death. You care far from being alone in those feelings.

Anonymous said...

I have told my family that they are NOT to have an open casket at my viewing. I've never understood the purpose of that.

And they'd better honor my wishes or I'm coming back to haunt them!

Alex said...

I totally agree. I think there is a lot of unneccesary things that go on there like the open casket. Also the pretty much official involvement with religion/vicars?

I was trying to tell my mum how I didnt want to attend the funeral of my grandad and how I almost believe against them but found it hard to express the way I feel without offending. Touchy subject