I went to a funeral yesterday. A friend's father had passed away just 10 months after his mother died. Brutal. Absolutely brutal. I feel just awful for him and his sister. I have even more empathy than ever before, and as I sat there the fact that they are now parentless wasn't lost on me. Nor was the imagined image of the two of them having to sit in a funeral home to make those last, horrid details, guided by some slick ghoul who has made a business out of (mock) soothing the bereaved and befuddled;
Yes, Mr. Smith, this is a very difficult time for you. We understand. *pat pat on the hand*. We've been in this business a long time and we're here to help. Here, let us show you some ridiculously over-priced caskets. We KNOW that you don't want to put your loved one into something cheap and tacky...there, there, now...have a tissue.
Blech. The death business is recession-proof, isn't it! I hate funerals. I'm not critical of anyone who chooses to have one. We all have to deal with death in our own way, and I do see that they are necessary to say goodbye to someone we love who has died, and allow others to do the same.
I hate the near-choking atmosphere of sadness and loss; the heart-breaking photo montages near the front of the room--times when the departed were so vibrant and beautiful--so beloved. I couldn't help but think that when we die, all that is really left to represent us in any kind of tangible way is a small, select stack of photos.
Granted, I am damn cynical.
I hate the sermons with their heart-breaking memories interspersed with typical, seemingly-soothing biblical passages that are read each time, that must bring comfort to someone, yet not to me. Prepare a place elsewhere for my Mother all you want, but I want her here. Then, after we all have a good cry, we go eat little triangle sandwiches with gusto, because DAMN, nothing makes you hungry like death!
....why is that? Is it a sort of literal hunger for life?
But let me say this: I don't hate the memories people share. I think they're wonderful, and always interesting to hear these verbal vignettes. They just make it even more torturous, because if I wasn't a softy before, hoo boy am I ever now. I'm telling you--I can't take these things since my Mother died. Okay, nobody likes a funeral. Nobody thinks they're a GOOD TIME, so I don't expect it to be pleasant. After all, we are the ones still here, yearning for the person who is gone.
There's something WAY creepy about the funeral home too--all done up like someone's good living room, except there are kleenex boxes everywhere, and business cards. Don't forget the business cards.
Maybe, before I go to the other side of the dirt, I'll plan things a little differently, if I'm lucky enough to die an old woman, as I fully intend to do. No funeral. No black polyester clothes and pinchy shoes. No triangle sandwiches--no, wait--good eggsalad rocks. Those who love me best can bury me, but have a celebration on the first, nice, sunny, warm day thereafter--in someone's back yard. I'll choose the music. I'll write the words. Maybe I'll even set aside some cashola for a caterer, and maybe someone will say:
damn. That was one hell of a party.