Jump to content
Slate Blackcurrant Watermelon Strawberry Orange Banana Apple Emerald Chocolate Marble
Slate Blackcurrant Watermelon Strawberry Orange Banana Apple Emerald Chocolate Marble
Sign in to follow this  
Bong-Man

Funerals & the Culture of Death

Recommended Posts

I had the unfortunate experience of burying an Aunt and an Uncle in the last two weeks. Please spare the condolences....because I feel the need to be a little flippant about this process. When I was in my late 20's I went to three weddings in three weeks....and I haven't felt the same about weddings since. I'm feeling the same emotions now about funerals.

They Did a Good Job ! :unsure:

A good job of what ? Making a dead guy look dead ? If I had to hear one more person make this comment, I was going to lose it. Dude's dead....there's no degrees to looking dead. No one looks good dead....that's because you're dead ! Close the lid. I don't want to remember the way you look when you're dead. People in their 80's are putting obituaries in the paper with pictures of when they were in their 20's.....they don't want you to remember them dead either. My ex-wife's family would take pictures of their relatives laying in the casket. :blink: I should have known I had made a serious mistake right at that point. For $8,000 dollars, they ought to be filling you with pneumatic controls so the dude can wave at everyone admiring the carcass. ....kind of like a Disney World thing. Look.....Uncle Harry's still drinking !

The Casket

Auntie had an expensive one. Not sure what they paid, but it was the rolls-royce of caskets. Fancy scroll work on the side...nice satin interior....looked like mahogany to me. Meanwhile, Uncle had a pine box that looked like a Sauter furniture kit. It even had those cheap plastic screw covers. It weighed a lot less too. (Trust me...I helped carry both) What does this economic disparity mean ?.....absolutely nothing as far as I can tell, because both boxes will be leeching before the snow flies. You probably think that's a sick thought. What am I supposed to think when you're standing at the gravesite, and there's signs on every water spigot....."DON'T DRINK THE WATER !". I wouldn't dare, but there's a landscaper at that cemetary somewhere drinking it right out of the hose....I know it !

The Funeral Home Staff

Strange folk. Notice how it's always a family operation ? What's with that ? I've got some theories.....maybe organ stealing ? I mean, how would you know ? Those people are probably shipping gall-bladders to Haiti thru the black market. The gov't can't even watch our food supply....who's watching the morticians ? By the way....do they have Mortician conventions ? That scene must totally rock ! What's that smell....is that your new cologne, "Essance of Death" ? Did you ever think that maybe morticians and funeral home directors are using the same make-up as their clients ? Sure looks like it. How come you never meet Mrs. Mortician ? What's she do all day long ?

The Wake

One had alcohol....one didn't. I enjoyed myself much more at the one that served alcohol. If there's ever a time that you should have a drink, it's when a funeral is over. The person you just buried would want you to have one....they would have one if they could. If funerals are truly for the living, give me a drink !!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thoughts?

Looks like you've got it covered BM :)

Just one thing to add. At my last job I had three funeral homes as clients. All were family owned and they were carbon copies of each other. Kind of mundane people if you know what I mean. That wasn't the worst part though. A naked corpse on the metal table plus the smell of embalming fluid is enough to creep anyone out. And yes, I had to see that because the job was pickup and delivery of sheets and towels. Fortunately I didn't have to touch the stuff as they were in soil bags, but still i've been known to hold my breath for several minutes at a time :blink:

I never thought much about it but after that experience, i'm gettin' baked when I go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a heavy drinker, but would skip doing that out of respect, if the person died tragically or early in life.

But if some local character dies at 90, it should be a free for all (also out of respect)...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
There is way to much religious claptrap involved as well.

Inteesting point, because one of these funerals had a Mass, and the other didn't. The Mass was way too long and emotional for my taste....especially the sound of the death organ. You know, the lady no one knows who plays for $20 bucks. It almost seems like the older people enjoy this torture. The same people balling their eyes out, seem to be the same people who were crying at last week's wedding. The funeral without a Mass was the subject of great debate....why no Mass ? Did he request that ? Are they too cheap ? Will they dedicate a Mass ? How will we know ? Even more interesting, we had a Mass for my Aunt who never attended Church, and didn't have one for Uncle, who went every week and was even an usher. That's like being a Cubs fan and having your ashes spread at Comiskey Park. :blink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the organ part - it kills the time, and I can space out while everyone gets their crying in...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I like the organ part - it kills the time, and I can space out while everyone gets their crying in...

"Your Time is Gonna Come" might fit right in there. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

:D

Wonderful post! So true...

Best funeral I've been to, bar none, was for my beloved step-mom-in-law (seriously). Six of her seven children and step-children were there when she died, and the seventh, my husband, and I had visited five days before. That was what was really important, to say goodbye.

She was cremated as per her wishes, and her husband scattered some of her ashes around the rose bushes at their house. Her oldest son, who lives near us, took the rest of the ashes home with him - in a Tupperware container with a shaker lid! She wanted them scattered at the Iris Meadow campground in Rock Creek Canyon in the Eastern Sierra, where she had spent a summer.

So, one Saturday morning, my husband and I and his brother Dave and his wife Janet and their kids all gathered near Rock creek in Iris Meadow. We stood in a circle and spoke about Anne and all that she meant to each of us. I read a poem. Then Dave popped open the lid on the Tupperware container and shook her ashes out and around, some in the creek, some in the trees, some in the meadow. We all stood and hugged and cried. The campers nearby must've thought we were either mad, or we were saying goodbye to a dog, but we didn't care.

Then we had Pie in the Sky at the restuarant at the end of the road. Best pie I've ever eaten. I still smile when I think of how we sent Anne off, it was perfect.

Edited to add: total cost - $10 for the Tupperware, $30 for the pie; and whatever the cost of the cremation was...

Edited by SunChild

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My mom has a morbid ( :D ) fascination with death.She has actually taken pics of the dearly departed during the wake,and she's been known to go into graphic details about how loved ones have passed.

She's guilty of using the phrase "He/she looks good" on many occasions. (My response-"How the hell are they supposed to look;they're dead for chrissakes?"). There's been times when we've had conversations about a long-gone relative or friend,and the conversation runs toward how they died,what kind of pain was involved,etc.Consequently;I have a very dark and morbid sense of humor.Gallows' humor" if you will.

A common response to a typical question:"Mom;are you going to Dougs' house to babysit next week?" "I don't know;I might be dead by then".

I suppose it's her way of dealing with her own mortality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
They Did a Good Job ! :unsure:

A good job of what ? Making a dead guy look dead ? If I had to hear one more person make this comment, I was going to lose it. Dude's dead....there's no degrees to looking dead. No one looks good dead....that's because you're dead ! Close the lid. I don't want to remember the way you look when you're dead. People in their 80's are putting obituaries in the paper with pictures of when they were in their 20's.....they don't want you to remember them dead either.!

They make the dead look good, because it's much better than how they came in. No one leaves a beautiful corpse.

The Casket

Auntie had an expensive one. Not sure what they paid, but it was the rolls-royce of caskets. Fancy scroll work on the side...nice satin interior....looked like mahogany to me. Meanwhile, Uncle had a pine box that looked like a Sauter furniture kit. It even had those cheap plastic screw covers. It weighed a lot less too. (Trust me...I helped carry both) What does this economic disparity mean ?.....absolutely nothing as far as I can tell, because both boxes will be leeching before the snow flies.

I don't get caskets either, but they want the best for their loved one when they make their exit.

The Funeral Home Staff

Did you ever think that maybe morticians and funeral home directors are using the same make-up as their clients ? Sure looks like it. How come you never meet Mrs. Mortician ? What's she do all day long?

She's probably drinking out of the fountain, because the landscaper already has the hose.

The Wake

One had alcohol....one didn't. I enjoyed myself much more at the one that served alcohol. If there's ever a time that you should have a drink, it's when a funeral is over. The person you just buried would want you to have one....they would have one if they could. If funerals are truly for the living, give me a drink !!

I drink depending how one has passed, I don't get blind drunk though. If they're young or if it was tragic, I'll pass. If one was to live a long good life and expired naturally; then bottoms up!

This reminds me of one funeral I attended for my cousin eight years back when I was twelve, my brother was sharing stories with a close friend of my late cousin to comfort him. They were laughing out loud later on and that's when my auntie approached them and shrieked loudly: "THIS IS FUCKING FUNERAL, I DON'T SEE WHY YOU SHOULD BE LAUGHING! RESPECT THE DEAD!!!"

Everyone in the room looked at one another with an expression on their face that pretty much said: What the fuck? :huh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My mom has a morbid ( :D ) fascination with death.She has actually taken pics of the dearly departed during the wake,and she's been known to go into graphic details about how loved ones have passed.

She's guilty of using the phrase "He/she looks good" on many occasions. (My response-"How the hell are they supposed to look;they're dead for chrissakes?"). There's been times when we've had conversations about a long-gone relative or friend,and the conversation runs toward how they died,what kind of pain was involved,etc.Consequently;I have a very dark and morbid sense of humor.Gallows' humor" if you will.

A common response to a typical question:"Mom;are you going to Dougs' house to babysit next week?" "I don't know;I might be dead by then".

I suppose it's her way of dealing with her own mortality.

Hmmm....Interesting. You see, I think we're about to enter a new phase of death. Have you noticed that in a very short time we've gone from laying people out for 1 day instead of 3 ? 20 years ago you wouldn't think of showing up at a funeral without a suit on. Now hardly anyone has a suit. I say funerals as we know it are gone as soon as the generation older than us has passed. People our age and younger aren't into all that crap. We're doing it to appease our elders, and it's just easier at this point to go with the flow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I buried my mother, grandmother and my father in a six-month period in 2006. Being the excutor I had total control over the "festivities". I choose simple, low-key and inexpensive since it was what they wanted. No viewing, simple casket, no preacher (I spoke and invited others to do so as well), but I spent the bucks on the after-party (wake). Plenty of good food and drink and airfare for those who couldn't afford it. We had nine people staying at our house! So, while it was the saddest time of my life it was also a lot of fun and family. I hope my funeral is as much fun!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My mom has a morbid ( :D ) fascination with death.She has actually taken pics of the dearly departed during the wake,and she's been known to go into graphic details about how loved ones have passed.

Actually I've noticed how people never take photos at funerals (unless they're for somebody famous or important).

It almost seems like bad taste to take photos at a funeral, which I guess goes along with the theory that we only want to remember the good times. But death is as important as being born. In fact they're the two most important events in your life and we take photos of neither of them...

On a side note, last week was rather interesting for me because by pure coincidence I saw two people die in the street. One guy I saw bleed to death on a busy city street (he did have emergency people with him) and then three days later, around the corner from my house, a woman died on the footpath. I never realised how long they leave the body just lying there, covered in a white sheet.

8 years ago my grandfather died while I was talking to him. It's an incredibly distinctive change that you see when they die. There's no way, i think, you could fake being dead, because the body takes on a look that is markedly different from when you're alive. It's very difficult to explain.

I tell you an unusual coincidence:

my family had been friends with this woman for many years, we used to play at her house when we were kids. She had a huge tree in her back yard that was a horrible old tree that was always sick and rotting. The leaves were always brown and mottled. Her daughter wanted it cut down. But it stayed. Anyway this woman died a few years ago of cancer, and she was cremated and her ashes were buried in her front garden. Then about 3 days after her death, the big tree in the back yard suddenly blossomed with hundreds of white flowers. Everyone was stunned, because no one even knew that it was a flowering tree. She had lived in that house for 30 years, and her children, my family, her neighbours had never once seen that tree in bloom. For 30 years everyone thought it was a rotting tree. And it bloomed for a week, and it has never bloomed again, and that was 5 years ago.

Whether or not it has anything to do with her death is debatable, but I thought it was an extremely unusual coincidence

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Plenty of good food and drink and airfare for those who couldn't afford it. We had nine people staying at our house! So, while it was the saddest time of my life it was also a lot of fun and family. I hope my funeral is as much fun!

A Good point. Funerals are usually sad affairs, so you forget the fact that you're going to see some people you haven't seen in a very very long time. The two I attended were from separate sides of the family, so I saw every family member I ever knew in a matter of two weeks.....including cousins I hadn't seen in 30 years.

I always thought the purpose of a Wake was to let your hair down a bit. It's the end....have a drink, tell a kind story about the deceased, and move on with your life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me it'll be into the oven and away. My family and friends will be supplied with all the necessary tools to have one hell of a wake though. I'd rather celebrate a life than morn a death. Most of the funerals I've been to recently have been rather upbeat affairs. I'd like that to be the case when my time comes

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i had to arrange the funeral of both my parents as a teenager and what i found surreal was the room in the back of the funeral home where you go "shopping" for caskets...probably 30 of them all lined up and displayed like an automobile showroom... and the funeral director is asking you what color/type fabrics, water seals, locks...i'm thinking you're freakin kidding me, right?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hate funerals. What's the logic of saying goodbye to empty shell? I think it's good to pay a tribute to a dear, departed soul, but I also think that crying over a dead piece of flesh is not the best way to do that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Years ago I read about a tradition (I think it was in Nepal or Tibet, but I can't remember) where they chop the dead person into little bits, put the pieces out on a rock, and watch the vultures carry them away. That actually sounds pretty cool to me. It's like you're watching the circle of life as it happens.

However, not having been exposed to such things in my life, I believe a few drinks would definately be in order before the chopping.

As far as traditional funerals, I feel the same way about them as I do about traditional weddings: Yawn.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I had the unfortunate experience of burying an Aunt and an Uncle in the last two weeks. Please spare the condolences....because I feel the need to be a little flippant about this process. When I was in my late 20's I went to three weddings in three weeks....and I haven't felt the same about weddings since. I'm feeling the same emotions now about funerals.

They Did a Good Job ! :unsure:

A good job of what ? Making a dead guy look dead ? If I had to hear one more person make this comment, I was going to lose it. Dude's dead....there's no degrees to looking dead. No one looks good dead....that's because you're dead ! Close the lid. I don't want to remember the way you look when you're dead. People in their 80's are putting obituaries in the paper with pictures of when they were in their 20's.....they don't want you to remember them dead either. My ex-wife's family would take pictures of their relatives laying in the casket. :blink: I should have known I had made a serious mistake right at that point. For $8,000 dollars, they ought to be filling you with pneumatic controls so the dude can wave at everyone admiring the carcass. ....kind of like a Disney World thing. Look.....Uncle Harry's still drinking !

Actually, I understand the 'did a good job' bit. I think part of it is "funeral/visitation small talk"... folks feel the need to say something, and that is a pretty neutral thing to say. It certainly doesn't have the emotional baggage and potential embarrassment of bursting into body-wracking sobs for 20 minutes or saying 'well, he was certainly an asshole'. The other thing is that even though the dead person doesn't look like he/she did when alive, they usually do look 'good' compared to what they'd look like without the makeup, artful posing, etc. I've seen a lot of dead people before their 'makeovers'... and it's not very pretty, even if the death was quiet and peaceful.

Actually I've noticed how people never take photos at funerals (unless they're for somebody famous or important).

It almost seems like bad taste to take photos at a funeral, which I guess goes along with the theory that we only want to remember the good times. But death is as important as being born. In fact they're the two most important events in your life and we take photos of neither of them...

My daughter has coped with the deaths of some beloved cats by taking a lot of photos, including the digging of the hole, the dead cat in a box waiting to be put in said hole, of the other cats checking it all out, etc. It's her way of coping (along with a lot of crying). Mine is to do the digging.

When I was in high school, my best friend's grandfather died and I went to the funeral with my friend. Her way of coping was to get a tour of the funeral home, particularly the back rooms, she had a lot of questions about the process, etc. It was interesting, and provided the info necessary to know it wasn't anything I'd want to do for a living.

BTW, some people do film births now. I know I had absolutely no desire to be photographed or filmed during the birth of my daughter. If folks want to do that for my funeral, I guess it's up to them... I know that I won't care.

8 years ago my grandfather died while I was talking to him. It's an incredibly distinctive change that you see when they die. There's no way, i think, you could fake being dead, because the body takes on a look that is markedly different from when you're alive. It's very difficult to explain.m

Yep. Most of the difference in how they look is from the total loss of ALL muscle tension. No matter how 'relaxed' one iswhen alive, there is at least some bit of muscle tension, and it's not something a person can fake with makeup or positioning, etc. The other thing is the color changes with the loss of blood circulation plus pooling of that blood into whatever part(s) of the body are lowest. That can be more or less mimicked with makeup, but you can't fudge the loss of muscle tone.

I tell you an unusual coincidence:

my family had been friends with this woman for many years, we used to play at her house when we were kids. She had a huge tree in her back yard that was a horrible old tree that was always sick and rotting. The leaves were always brown and mottled. Her daughter wanted it cut down. But it stayed. Anyway this woman died a few years ago of cancer, and she was cremated and her ashes were buried in her front garden. Then about 3 days after her death, the big tree in the back yard suddenly blossomed with hundreds of white flowers. Everyone was stunned, because no one even knew that it was a flowering tree. She had lived in that house for 30 years, and her children, my family, her neighbours had never once seen that tree in bloom. For 30 years everyone thought it was a rotting tree. And it bloomed for a week, and it has never bloomed again, and that was 5 years ago.

Whether or not it has anything to do with her death is debatable, but I thought it was an extremely unusual coincidence

I'd have to file that under 'hmm, interesting, but no idea what it means'... but it definitely is strange and interesting.

~~~~~~

On a side note.... one of the funeral homes here is called Valhalla Funeral Homes. My hubby at the time saw a sign for it and started laughing... "what do they do, float you down the Tennessee River in a burning canoe?".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm an obituary and memorial reader. Every day in the newspaper. My wife thinks its sick. I'm always commenting about the young ones, somebody who is a similar age to me AND the really cute chicks. Sometimes the wording indicates a suicide. Then you read the memorials of past years deaths and you start seeing repeats from year to year. What is that all about?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Irish side of my husband's family have huge funerals and wakes that are like parties. When someone dies, they have open coffins and huge wakes and at the wakes the relatives talk about how the deceased looked in the open coffins: "Didn't she look beautiful?" When a young relative died, one of the older aunts described her as looking, "Just like Sleeping Beauty" in the coffin. :( :'(

My grandmother, who was Cuban/Spanish, saved all of the mass cards from every funeral she attended. When she died, my aunt found piles of them bound up in rubber bands in my grandmother's dresser. :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Years ago I read about a tradition (I think it was in Nepal or Tibet, but I can't remember) where they chop the dead person into little bits, put the pieces out on a rock, and watch the vultures carry them away. That actually sounds pretty cool to me. It's like you're watching the circle of life as it happens.

It's called a "sky burial" (minus the chopping) by native plains indians. It's how I want to go but it's illegal in the US.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the way I want to go out, In Nawlin's we live with a bang and go out with a bang accept I'll make it easier on them by getting creamated and do my part to help rebuild the coastline by throwing my ashes into the

Gulf of Mexico :D (thought they were gonna drop him) :o

<click

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm reminded of a biker who arranged for some of his ashes to be rolled up with all the weed into joints for his wake!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've never understood people who have good times at funerals/wakes, even if it's the funeral of a loved one. I'm too depressed and upset to be drinking and dancing. I've buried too many people (friends and family) in the last 15 years that to me, it's all become numb. My entire family has a section of their closets devoted to funeral wear. I bought a funeral veil to wear to my grandma's funeral in 1996 thinking I wouldn't have to wear it for a long time......I've worn it 6 times since then.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×