Monday, August 27, 2012

Can’t Put the Fun in Funeral

It seems to happen more often than not, but people are born, people get married and people die, the major events that litter all our lives.  While I could discuss the where and why I was at a funeral, I think it would be a disservice to the person who passed.  The tone of this blog is, hopefully, much more conversational.

Attendance: Just Show Up

One thing I noticed in the audience was how many people not in my age group were there.  I realise that most people who die are old, which is such a flawed statement I can hardly stand looking at it, but it has some truth to it.  If people are allowed to lead a rich, full life, then they die towards the end of said life.  It stands to reason that most people who would attend a funeral are the person’s peers.  In this case, the woman worked at a non-profit that had quite a few young people in it, myself included.  She sat next to me for several years, tolerated my silliness and lack of professionalism with grace.  She was well liked and well known.  But when I looked around the church, I could count on one hand who many young adults there were that weren’t related to the family.

I don’t know if this is an issue with all of my peers, but it needs to be fixed, rectified and acknowledged.  Just because you feel uncomfortable or don’t ‘like’ funerals isn’t a reason to be rude or disrespectful.  Swallow your pride, take a deep breath and pay your respects to someone, be kind and be giving.  Funerals aren’t fun for anyone, and I saw a great outpouring of support from the company I had been with, and it made me feel good.  It made me feel good that I’d taken the time that not one of my friends did and pay respects to someone who had been kind and comforting, a great contrast to the turmoil that still plagues the association.

Get over yourself and attend a funeral!

It Isn't Baseball, so Crying is OK

I realise that some people hire mourners to make appearances at these sorts of events, but that isn’t necessary, not really.  Funerals are sad, you’re celebrating the fact that you will never see someone ever again.  Funerals are permanent and forever, and it is sad.  We don’t go because we want to grab onto the casket and go under with them (though movies and TV would make you think so).  It is okay to cry, to be upset, to lament what you should have said or done that you can’t change now.

I foolishly only brought 2 tissues, and paid for it, but I think there really should be standing boxes strewn about, it isn’t like they won’t be needed.  It is totally reasonable to cry your eyes out and be fine as soon as you exit the church.

The only caveat I’d bring to this is there doesn’t need to be overly demonstrative crying going on.  It is distracting, I grant you, but it is probably not always appropriate.  I know this might be a touchy subject, but at least I’ll do my part to keep it to silent crying, and maybe we all can give it a try?

How Long Should a Service Be?

I sometimes wonder when I’m sitting in really long services if secretly the person who passed is chuckling at how silly we all are crying for hours on end.  This is more of – if you’re about to die or host a funeral, it doesn’t need to lag on.  People are already upset that are there, to make them sit through tearful speeches without ‘assistance’ is slightly unkind.  Being Muslim, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy that anyway.

I have only attended a few funerals, the Muslim ones I’ve gone to have been short and sweet, in and out and at someone’s house enjoying eats within an hour.  Christian funerals are much more orchestrated and requiring a lot of standing up and sitting down, and also singing.  I won’t lie, I didn’t sing, but I did get up and down countless times.

I can’t say that if a loved one has died you don’t have the right to make a speech, and I was treated to some great speeches today, but on the whole, they are usually depressing and involve a lot of crying by the speaker.  I was pleasantly surprised when the kids of the woman who passed had some hilarious stories that weren’t denigrating, but just were, and they made me smile.

All in all, a funeral shouldn’t be something to make people even sadder.  We all know what we are facing and we will cope in our own way, the key, to me, is to make the transition for everyone that much more bearable.  Tell a funny story, an anecdote, a quote, something embarrassing, but don’t make people cry even more than they already are!

The one thing I want to really highlight was how nice it was to see so many familiar faces supporting one another.  Family doesn’t just mean the people you’re genetically related to.  Family can be anything, as wide-reaching as a university experience and as tight-knit as a small department.  You spend more time at work than you do at home, to deny that you care about the people you work with might seem ‘cool,’ it is childish.  I’m glad I went and I wish more people my age would understand the importance of attending funerals.  Funerals aren’t about having fun, but paying your respects to someone who deserves it.

1 comment:

  1. When we held my dad's service I was actually positively surprised by the turn out. It was mainly family but still he had alienated a lot of people along the way but as it turned out also touched a lot.

    I haven't been to many funerals myself. I haven't know that many people who have died. I've been lucky that way. So I can't speak to how things normally are. But I spoke at my dad's funeral. Everyone where convinced or worried about if I couldn't do it or would be a sobbing mess. I knew I could cause I had to. I think your right about the speeches should be in a happy and positive tone. It's not the place for blame or huge regrets. The mortician at my dad's funeral praised my speech and said it was one of the best she'd ever hear. I don't know if she says that to everyone as comfort. Even so it made me very proud. She hears a lot of speeches so for her to say that my speech was what any parent would want their children to say was a huge praise.