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BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff

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Sorcha 19 Aug 06 - 02:41 PM
Acme 19 Aug 06 - 03:23 PM
Little Hawk 19 Aug 06 - 03:33 PM
Zany Mouse 19 Aug 06 - 03:59 PM
Sorcha 19 Aug 06 - 04:02 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 19 Aug 06 - 04:11 PM
Sorcha 19 Aug 06 - 04:13 PM
Sorcha 19 Aug 06 - 04:16 PM
Peace 19 Aug 06 - 04:22 PM
Sorcha 19 Aug 06 - 04:24 PM
LilyFestre 19 Aug 06 - 04:28 PM
Sorcha 19 Aug 06 - 04:30 PM
Joe Offer 19 Aug 06 - 04:55 PM
Little Hawk 19 Aug 06 - 05:38 PM
Acme 19 Aug 06 - 06:44 PM
Little Hawk 19 Aug 06 - 06:52 PM
SINSULL 19 Aug 06 - 06:57 PM
Micca 19 Aug 06 - 07:02 PM
snarky 19 Aug 06 - 07:09 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 19 Aug 06 - 07:16 PM
Ebbie 19 Aug 06 - 07:18 PM
jeffp 19 Aug 06 - 07:27 PM
Sorcha 19 Aug 06 - 08:07 PM
Azizi 19 Aug 06 - 08:26 PM
Sorcha 19 Aug 06 - 08:35 PM
open mike 19 Aug 06 - 08:56 PM
Sorcha 19 Aug 06 - 09:03 PM
mack/misophist 19 Aug 06 - 09:53 PM
Rapparee 19 Aug 06 - 10:14 PM
Shanghaiceltic 19 Aug 06 - 10:38 PM
Sorcha 19 Aug 06 - 10:47 PM
Janie 19 Aug 06 - 11:04 PM
Little Hawk 19 Aug 06 - 11:12 PM
GUEST,Jon 19 Aug 06 - 11:23 PM
Janie 19 Aug 06 - 11:35 PM
Joe Offer 20 Aug 06 - 03:13 AM
Rusty Dobro 20 Aug 06 - 03:23 AM
GUEST,Jon 20 Aug 06 - 07:31 AM
JennyO 20 Aug 06 - 07:45 AM
Zany Mouse 20 Aug 06 - 09:30 AM
fat B****rd 20 Aug 06 - 01:28 PM
Little Hawk 20 Aug 06 - 01:50 PM
Nigel Parsons 20 Aug 06 - 04:13 PM
Sorcha 20 Aug 06 - 04:30 PM
Little Hawk 20 Aug 06 - 05:27 PM
Folkiedave 20 Aug 06 - 06:51 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 20 Aug 06 - 07:35 PM
Janie 20 Aug 06 - 08:15 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 20 Aug 06 - 08:31 PM
Nigel Parsons 20 Aug 06 - 09:12 PM
Janie 20 Aug 06 - 09:20 PM
Zany Mouse 23 Aug 06 - 01:16 PM
Acme 23 Aug 06 - 03:41 PM
Janie 23 Aug 06 - 03:55 PM
Bert 23 Aug 06 - 04:28 PM
GUEST,Partridge 10 Sep 06 - 01:02 PM
jacqui.c 10 Sep 06 - 01:25 PM
Big Mick 10 Sep 06 - 01:34 PM
Pistachio 10 Sep 06 - 07:20 PM
SINSULL 10 Sep 06 - 07:35 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 10 Sep 06 - 07:38 PM
Sorcha 10 Sep 06 - 07:45 PM
GUEST 10 Sep 06 - 09:46 PM
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Azizi 10 Sep 06 - 11:20 PM
GUEST 11 Sep 06 - 06:31 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 11 Sep 06 - 09:41 PM
Azizi 11 Sep 06 - 10:12 PM
Azizi 11 Sep 06 - 10:26 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 12 Sep 06 - 05:20 PM
Charley Noble 12 Sep 06 - 06:12 PM
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Subject: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Sorcha
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 02:41 PM

I just got home from yet another interminable boring funeral service....even more so for me because I can't hear. Not one word. The 'singers' couldn't sing, NOBODY said a word about the deceased, we were asked NOT to speak to the family at all, or even after the graveside service.....so why did we go?

What do YOU think about during these things? And as this was a Mennonite service, I broke down and wore a skirt out of respect. The young woman behind me was showing major league cleavage, large bosoms. Rather bothered me.

WHY do people take infants and toddlers who have no clue what is going on to these things? Poor kids. They are boring enough for so called 'adults'.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Acme
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 03:23 PM

A co-worker died suddenly several years ago, and his wife set up a hasty funeral. The church wasn't one they normally attended, and the minister felt no compunction to try to make it a funeral to celebrate Jerry's life. He did a fire-and-brimstone sermon to a captive audience and several I spoke to later were quite offended that he should take advantage of them and the wife in that way.

Had I been there, I think I'd have been the rude one to stand abruptly in the middle of it and walk out.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 03:33 PM

I share your unenthusiastic feelings about (most) funerals. Why do people go to them? Well, I think they are often not exactly sure themselves what the answer is to that question.

Given that it's a social custom, they feel obliged to, I guess, but it's safe to say that most people do not in the least enjoy being at a funeral. To take small children along is simple weird, in my opinion.

What it often amounts to is: you pay a bunch of professional strangers a lot of money to put you and a whole bunch of other people through a totally creepy, depressing, and bizarre experience.

When my father passed away recently, my mother and I decided to have no funeral whatsoever, because we saw no good reason to. I haven't heard anyone complain about it so far.

I have, however, seen the odd funeral which was handled in a really good way and which certainly had its good points as a gathering for the bereaved and a send-off for the departed.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Zany Mouse
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 03:59 PM

Many people feel it is necessary to mark the passing with some sort of ceremony - they need it to achieve acceptance and closure.

As to horrid funerals - well they can be avoided to a certain extent. If you are not a church goer, then why bother with a church ceremony? You are not a known and loved member of the church family and the minister will have nothing constructive to say about the departed because he doesn't know him. The fire and brimstone action was totally out of order though.

Mick and I have decided on woodland funerals carried out by The Humane Society. I've been to two funerals conducted by these good people now and the best way to describe them is 'RELEVANT'. The person conducting the ceremony (both at crematoriums) had taken the time and effort to get to know the deceased's relatives and the words used related prefectly to the deceased. As to the woodland bit - well it just made ecological sense.

Other funerals which have bordered on being tolerable have been the various folk funerals I've attended. Again highly meaningful. Rod Shearman's was a true celebration of his life. Sadly there have been too many of these in recent years.

Incidentally, I'm curous - if you don't have a funeral of any sort - what happens to the body?

Rhiannon


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Sorcha
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 04:02 PM

Depends on local law.....you don't 'have' to have a service of any kind.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 04:11 PM

Have to file a disclaimer here, Sorch. Yes, I've been to funerals that have been depressing, but they have been in the minority. Seems like I've been to the whole specturm of funerals, from somber, formal Catholic services to an outdoor Jewish memorial where the woman's request was that a black gospel group sing at her funeral. We were asked to sing, and had a pretty good time. I've sung with the Messengers where people got up and danced in the aisles, ad while I haven't been to an Irish Wake, they certainly aren't reknowned for their sobriety. My Father's funeral was very touching, with a chance for anyone in the family to stand up and talk about my Father. There was a lot of laughter, and touching stories shared, and it was a time for everyone to get together and not only celebrate the goodness in my Father, but the strength of our family. As families scatter across the country, families segue into family reunions. It's also can be a welcome breather for the immediate family members, relaxing with family members they haven't seen for a long time, eating and reminiscing.

I am trying to prepare myself for the death of my Mother, and I can guarantee you that we'll do everything to have a good time. My Mother would want that.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Sorcha
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 04:13 PM

Exactly Jerry...this one wasn't 'depressing' at all....just boring. And if we go to show respect for the deceased and offer condolences to the family, why go at all if we are NOT allowed to speak to them????? Weird..


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Sorcha
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 04:16 PM

Mine is going to set this county on it's ear......


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Peace
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 04:22 PM

I expect to leave a case of whiskey and a few doobies (although I have no idea how to procure doobies or even whether doobies are what I think they are, but folks who DO know doobies will know if they are the right things or not), some really loud rock music and a canoe with a supply of Sara Lee cakes (in case the doobies are what I think) instead of a funeral, because my corpse will go to a medical school and the canoe will be for the doobie folks and they will figure out something to do with it because the whiskey people will be too loaded to paddle it anywhere and besides there is no water within 50 miles anyway. I imagine the ashes will be flushed and because all roads lead to Rome I am gonna learn some Italian.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Sorcha
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 04:24 PM

Sounds just fine, Peace!


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: LilyFestre
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 04:28 PM

What about going out of respect for the person you loved enough to even consider going to the funeral?

Michelle


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Sorcha
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 04:30 PM

That too.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 04:55 PM

Back when I was a working person, I used to follow social obligation and go to funerals of people I hardly knew, and many of them felt just like Sorcha described. Oftentimes, it seemed nobody knew the deceased except for the people in the front pew, and they didn't have any connection to the rest of us. Now I mostly go to sing Catholic funerals in my own parish, and I know three-quarters of the people there. Funerals like that can be wonderful expressions of humanity, a lovely mixture of the bitter and the sweet.
In the last 25 years, I have belonged to two Catholic parishes, and both parishes have tried to overcome the lonely anonymity of many funerals. For many years, I've tried to "field a choir" for the funerals of everyone who is known in the congregation. It seemed silly to have singers in the congregation and have only a soloist singing. Other volunteers put on a luncheon (free of charge) for any family that wants to have one for guests after the funeral. Still other volunteers visit the sick and meet with bereaved families.
We still have many anonymous funerals, attended by only a few friends and strangers - but we're trying to improve that, and we'd had a lot of success.
I, for one, like to go to funerals - when I know the people involved, and especially if I can make a contribution by singing.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 05:38 PM

If you don't have a funeral of any sort, Zany Mouse, then you arrange to have the body either:

1. cremated...or...
2. buried in a local cemetary

Those arrangements are naturally made through a funeral home, but they do not require a public gathering with a service of some kind, which is what a funeral is.

You can also have what is termed a "reception" which is a public gathering at the funeral home at a certain time, but it's not a funeral service, as such.

You are required to do various legal paperwork, and the funeral home will assist with that, as well as with placing a death notice in the newspaper if you wish. They will provide copies of the Death Certificate which will need to be sent to various banks, credit card companies, and so on...whoever needs to be informed.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Acme
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 06:44 PM

There was a marvelous essay last year (Aigist 8, 2005) on "This I Believe," the essays they're running on NPR. She grew up in Brooklyn and discussed what she learned from her father, that you should go to a funeral, even though it may be inconvenient. "In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn't been good versus evil. It's hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing."

Always Go to the Funeral.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 06:52 PM

Yep. Good essay, all right.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: SINSULL
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 06:57 PM

I will not have a funeral service of any sort when I die. I am to be cremated immediately and disposed of at sea or on the icy sidewalks after a bad snowstorm.

I know - funerals are for those left behind, a chance for them to say "Goodbye". Tough! Live with it!

I prefer you say "Hello" now while I can enjoy the gesture. Ample opportunity here in Maine.

I have been to too many funerals where the priest/rabbi had no clue who the deceased was, mispronounced names, got the children wrong. Give me a break.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Micca
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 07:02 PM

The Funeral song )
(Words Micca Patterson Tune "Banks of Newfoundland")

I've been to too many funerals over the last few years
Some solemn and some not so, but far too many tears
It started me off thinking of what happens when I go
So I thought I'd better get it down so everyone will know

No Church in gloom, No solemn tune, No po faced funeral poem
go to the pub and lift a glass And my friends can sing me home

No Church in gloom No solemn tune No friends on bended knee
Put on bright clothes and Morris bells and have a jolly spree
break out the old melodeon, and smack the loud Bodhran
and drink and sing the whole night long until the light of dawn

If you put me in a box to rot make it amongst the trees
But better still cremate me when I am at last at ease
And when I'm burned, scatter what's left, in places I have known
Then to the pub and lift a glass And my friends can sing me home

There is no easy way at all of taking leaves of friends
When down that long dark road we walk and vanish in the winds
When I move on to Tir na n'Og where the weather's always fair
the singing of my friends at Wake will surely reach me there

So Sing You Bastards sing and play loudly so I can hear
And pass the Talking stick around and drink the wine and beer
Tell stories , tales and sing my songs and Jokes both short and tall
Have fun and make the rafters ring or I'll come and haunt you all

No Church in gloom No solemn tune No Po faced Vicar there
But find a hedgewitch or High Priestess With long red flowing hair
And robed or skyclad to proclaim without a brush or comb
Then to the pub to drink some ale And My friends will sing me home

©Micca Patterson Feb/March 2004


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: snarky
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 07:09 PM

Could I have one of those doobies now, please....?


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 07:16 PM

This thread came at a very propitious time for me having just had my Mother in Law pass on.   My daughter, bless her, took care of everything. No big funeral (she was 94 and lots of familial issues to deal with. Graveside service and a luncheon (as Kate Campbell says in song---Funeral Food---we all have that) for people who never see each other and then won't again.

My daughter and I can, happily, discuss the future and she agrees with my thoughts---a cremation ( a decision I just reached) and then a while later a memorial concert with, hopefully, some of the wonderful people I have met through my (ongoing--I am not leaving the stage yet) stint at WFDU. I already have a plaque for my service to the community---and, as the saying goes--ashes to ashes, etc;

I have to say that the most meaningful and moving events I attended were only 2---both memorial commemorations---one with Jazz and the other just a get together to reminisce about someone we (the attendees) loved and appreciated.

Feel free to attend---hopefully it won't be for another 100 years. I don't really mean that. Quality of life is important and when that is gone I would like to say Goodbye as rapidly as possible----I just hate to miss that concert.   Though, my daughter (who has my sense of humor) says--hey, we could do this like a wedding rehearsal and have a memorial rehearsal---or shower. whatever.


BH


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Ebbie
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 07:18 PM

Good 'un, Micca.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: jeffp
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 07:27 PM

As you know, I was faced with this issue recently. Fortunately, I had had time to discuss things with Bonnie and I knew what she wanted. She wanted to be cremated and an informal memorial gathering held where people would share memories and tell stories of her life. The cremation was arranged through a local service which offered direct cremation, where they come and pick up the remains from the place of death, arrange for the death certificates and all paperwork, and deliver the remains back to you. They will also sell you urns and such, but I got no sales pitch for that at all. They were very professional and very helpful.

We chose a wooden urn made by Trappist Monks at a monastery in Iowa. Bonnie approved the choice before she died. Some of her ashes will be scattered at significant places and I'm not yet sure what I will do with the rest, so I'll just hang on to her for a while.

By contrast, I played at a funeral for a friend who died 3 days after Bonnie. This was a Baptist funeral and had a totally different feel to it. Personally, I prefer the way we did it.

Jeff


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Sorcha
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 08:07 PM

Perfect Micca.....my sentiments exactly.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 08:26 PM

I dislike going to funerals. Not because they are boring, but because I consider them to be too emotional. I personally don't like public displays of grieve.

In the last three years, I've gone to six funerals. Three of these funerals were located in my hometown, and three were in the city where I lived for a long time. All of these were African American funeral services.

One of these services was very Afro-centric. The middle-aged woman who 'passed on' was the director of a very well regarded African/modern dance company. Every Christmas/Kwanzaa season that company puts on Langston Hughes' classic play "Black Nativity". Prior to the beginning of the formal service for this woman, members of her dance company, and other dancers spontaneously blocked the street-without permit-and danced to the beats of a large number of djembe drummers. The members of her company and other dancers also danced at her grave site prior to her internment. Portions of the Black Nativity play as well as other dance tributes were also interwoven into the formal service for this woman prior to folks driving to the cemetary. But though the dancers and dramatic 'readings' enriched the service, what was by far the most moving part of this funeral service was when one of her son's shared his memories of his mother.

Having at least one family member stand up in front of the congregation and speak about their loved one seems to be an essential part of each African American funeral I have ever attended. Usually, opportunities are provided for other persons in attendance to briefly share their memories of the person who has "gone on to glory". Another standard part of the Black funeral services I have attended is when a close friend or extended family member{usually not a member of the immediate family} reads resolutions {from churches, religious & social organizations}, and condolence telegrans and representative cards, and telegrams. Btw, these cards usually contain money for the family of the deceased, and it can get quite dicey which family member gets which cards {and therefore the money enclosed in the card}.

Some funerals had children in attendance. Usually {in my experiences}the only children who go to funerals iare members of the immediate or extended family}. Whether children attend the funeral or not is an individual choice that families make. But having children at the funeral service or the viewing {a scheduled time often the day before the actual funeral service, but in some places right before the funeral service} is traditional. The funeral was your chance to "pay your last respect" to your loved one, and to say goodbye to him or her. Having children {especially a newborn baby} at a funeral was proof that the loved one lives on. Another reason why chilren were supposed to attend funerals was that the service was suppose to be cathartic-and celebratory. Children grieve too {and the general feeling was that children need to 'get those feelings out' just as much as other people. Besides, if everyone you knew was at the funeral, who could babysit the children?.

[That said, I don't like to see children at funerals, especially funerals where I know people will be hysterical...I think it scares kids to see adults out of control].

One of the practices that I've noticed in Pittsburgh funerals, that I haven't seen in funerals in my hometown of Atlantic City, is the custom of having a large home made collage of the deceased person {with photographs of him or her from babyhood on, alone, and with family members and friends}. This collage is placed either right outside the entrance to the funeral home lobby {or where-ever the "viewing" of the body [in the casket] is...Sometimes there are two or more collages. One of these collages may be showcased near the casket at the main funeral service. And one of the collages may be showcased at the 'repast' {the dinner that is served for the deceased one's family and friends immediately after they come back from the cementary. Instead of collages, the funerals I have attended in Atlantic City have a 8 by 10 or larger framed photo of the deceased at the viewing and on the podium right above the casket.

I've found that some differences in funeral services depend on the minister and the traditions of the church. For instance, I've found that in my Baptist church in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the casket is not closed until mid way into the service-after the entire congregation walks single file pass the immediate family sitted in the first row of pews to the right of the church. Each person shakes the hand of the family members, or kisses or hugs them and then views the deceased person laying in the open casket and 'says their last goodbyes'. This is without a doubt absolutely the most emotional part of the service. This is when family members who had been 'holding it together' start crying. After all the other people in the congregation have walked past the body, then the immediate family has their turn to go up to the casket and see their loved one on last time. The last persons to go up are the ones who are the closest family members {wife, or husband, or mother etc}. Afterwards the casket is closed. This is without a doubt the most difficult part of the service. I absolutely hate it. In contrast, in the Black funeral services that I've attended in Pittsburgh {same denomination-Baptist} the casket is closed prior to the beginning of the funeral service.

In both cities {my hometown and my adopted town}, the actual funeral service always includes music {usually at least one soloist, and a 'thrown together' choir made up of mostly old people who could get off of work or are no longer working.}

And of course, there is a minister's "eulogy". I very much dislike fire & brimstone ministers at any time. Imo, that a minister would preach a sermon at a funeral at all, and preach fire & brimestone sermons at a funeral is beyond awful. I also hate it when at the end of their eulogy {"sermon?"} some ministers "open the doors of the church" so that people can "be saved"=join church... On an number of occassions at that time I've seen non-church going members of the deceased person's family-who are already emotionally overwrought-come forward crying to join church. My opinion of ministers who do this is this is unprintable.

See this article about Death and dying in the Black experience . Most of the customs mentioned in that article are familiar to me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Sorcha
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 08:35 PM

I'm with you there Zi.....I think 'veiewing the body' is quite disrespectful...and have FORBIDDEN my family to allow it. No, you don't have to look but sometimes it is difficult not to.

One funeral I went to, the 'minister' (?) gave a sermon based on Revelation!!!!! The 4 Horsemen!!!!

Yes, I can see the children of the family, but the attendees very small children??? Breast fed infants, maybe....but a year old 'friend of the family'? If I couldn't find a sitter, I'd send a card and stay home.

Here, the mortuary recieves all the cards...gives them to the Head of the Family....


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: open mike
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 08:56 PM

These days the reception in memory of the person is often considered
a Celebration of their life. Sometimes there are legal or financial
issues which the survivors will need to comes to deal with, and if
the person is NOT to be cremated, there is some urgency for this
time-wise. Some cultures require burial with in 24 hours of death.
I think this is pre-embalming (which is really a LOOOONG time ago,
as embalming has been around for many centuries)

Perhaps there would have been a way to get to hear the proceedings
thru some sort of amplifier, for the hearing impaired, as most
facilities have a sound system of some sort.

The opportunity to get together to compile the information for the
obituary is a time that can be special for the family and friends
of the deceased. A funeral director, or mortuary director could
be an event organizer, and they could help the family and friends
plan a service or gathering that has all the elements that make
it an event not to be one such as you experienced, Sorcha. I am
sorry you found it to be lacking. Perhaps you want to start a business
to make sure that other folks in your area get a better deal!!

the memory i have of country funerals in my family is that they
almost always sing "The Old Rugged Cross" that song seems to be
special to people in the church in the neighborhood that my family
lived in.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Sorcha
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 09:03 PM

If they do the Old Rugged or the Andy song (And He walked, etc) at mine I WILL rise up from the ashes like the Phoenix and HAUNT them the rest of their days!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: mack/misophist
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 09:53 PM

When my mother in law died, she was cremated. The ashes sat in our closet for over a year until her kids got together to scatter them. Makes sense to me. And no service.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Rapparee
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 10:14 PM

I am just back from the burial of my father-in-law in Arlington National Cemetery. He had the full treatment -- riderless horse with reversed boots, coffin on the caisson pulled by horses, a bugler playing "Taps", a firing party, a band (!), and at least two platoons (80 people) to march and present arms.

The priest did not know him -- had to ask his name -- and basically talked to the family and not to the assembled people (about 100 attended).

Earlier, six weeks again to be precise, the priest at the funeral gave a modified canned sermon, probably No. 187, "Elderly Man Dies Who Was Very Active In The Parish." The family, however, choose the readings and the songs.

Why the time between funeral services and burial? Well, unless you've died in combat or are somebody like the President, there's a waiting list of four to six weeks....


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Shanghaiceltic
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 10:38 PM

I have only been to one funeral here in China, Jade's grandmother passed away about 3 months back. She had been ill for some time and at 93 years old it was not unexpected.

Jade made most of the arrangements but I still had to go with her to the funeral parlour to help finalize the event and buy the casket which would hold the ashes. This was the Longhua Funeral Parlour just down the road from IKEA.

None of the quiet soft lighting, low music and dignity there. If I had not known what the place was I would have taken it for a 'normal' business. Loads of people all pushing and shoving to make sure they could be first in the queue to get the myriad of bits of paper needed to book and buy the services on offer. Plus some attempted haggling over prices. But as these places are government run the price on the sticker is what you pay.

Coffins were stacked on a rack nearby allowing you to choose easily and around the corner was a glass cabinet holding samples of the caskets for the ashes. Another counter hired out traditional mourning clothes. The staff were brusque -as is usual in China-none of the sympathetic quiet service you might expect in a western funeral parlour. It is after all a business and one where the customers never run out.

This list of various items and services we needed came to 50 in all and included a charge for the gas for the crematorium based on a rate of so many cubic meters over a period on one and a half hours, plus cooling time!

On the day of the funeral I put on a black suit and tie, but I was out of place, most people were simply dressed in shirts, trousers and trainers with a black swatch of cloth stitched to the arm of their shirts or blouses.

There must have been about 30 halls at the back of the Longhua where the service was to take place. All busy. Hundreds of people milling around awaiting the service for their particular family deceased. Again none of the quiet dignity I would have expected. Cars vying with cars for a parking space, shouts and hollering as 6 people gave parking advice to the poor driver trying to reverse into a space with flower delivery vans trying to barge through to deliver their load and get off to the next 'customer'.

About 20 minutes before the service began the open coffin was brought in and we all had to get a picture taken with Grandma. We had to line up behind the coffin to get the pics done. I was the 'official' photographer. The same things was going on in the hall adjacent to ours, I had baulked at the idea of doing a video but I need not have worried. Some people that night who missed the event would be treated to a home movie…..

The service was short a few speeches and then the coffin was brought forward so small paper models in the shape of silver money bars could be put into the coffin. She was 93 so I guess she did not need the paper cars, luxury villas that are also used in China and Hong Kong. The Chinese government is cracking down on some of the paper items that can be put in a coffin. One of those banned items is paper condoms. Gran certainly did not need those. But it did strike me that if they are banned does that mean China has dropped the one angelette per couple policy in its section of heaven?

Up until the time the coffin was brought forward there had been quiet weeping. As the lid was nailed down the proper funereal wailing started and there was again a push and shove as people tried to stop the coffin being taken away or who wanted to touch the coffin one last time. At that point a brass band of about 8 people suddenly turned up and started playing away. I had heard them earlier but I did not realize we would be treated to two thumped out songs. As the brass band finished a group of uniformed people came in to end the wailing and ordered people to stand back as they took charge of the coffin to take it to the crematorium.

We had to wait around a further hour, why I am not too sure, but in that time I noticed one 'uncle' raking through the rubbish bins to rescue and flatten the plastic water bottles. He could sell those at a profit and there were plenty of them. Where he hid them I do not know but where there's muck there's money, even at a funeral parlour.

Suddenly everyone started moving off. I followed; it was time for the wake dinner in the aptly named Angelic Restaurant….


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Sorcha
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 10:47 PM

LOL, Frank....sounds like my kind of place!

Laurel, yes, 'business' often does need to happen in the family, but at the GRAVESIDE or the reception??????


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Janie
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 11:04 PM

I don't know that I have ever been to a funeral that I found boring or experienced as meaningless. Granted, most of the funerals and memorial services I have attended have been those of family members or close friends. With friends and family arriving from all over the country over the course of 2 or 3 days, houseguests, the wake and the big family meals and get-togethers, they are more like family reunions than anything else. They really do strike me as a celebration of the life of the person who died.
    Other than family funerals, I have attended funerals and memorial services of clients who died and those of neighbors. I go to those out of respect for their families and because I value and have a responsibility to participate in the significant rites that reinforce community. I listen to the eulogies and get a deeper sense of who that person was. As neighbors, we look out for one another and are cordial, but rarely know each other intimately.
    While I would not take my son to any of those funerals, I think children do belong at the funerals of family members they knew or of close family friends with whom they had relationships.
    And when a child in their community dies, the children belong at the service also. When my son was in the third grade a classmate and friend was killed by her stepfather in a triple-murder/suicide. While she and my son were not close friends, they sat together in class, had been in classes together since kindergarten, and also belonged to and participated in the parish life of our church. Her stepfather also had his own children who went to the same school. One of his chidlren was also a third grader and the other just a year older.    Darn near every child in the third grade was at that memorial service, and it clearly brought a sense of closure, comfort and safety to all of them.

Janie


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 11:12 PM

Well, it all depends on the individual circumstances, doesn't it?


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 11:23 PM

Where known, I think it all depends on the wishes of the deceased. It's thier day as far as I'm concerned.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Janie
Date: 19 Aug 06 - 11:35 PM

Well, sure it does, LH. And I don't mean to imply that holding funeral or memorial services are mandatory either. Just saying they are not necessarily macabre--tho' the one that prompted Sorch to post certainly sounded that way.

Janie


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Aug 06 - 03:13 AM

When my friend Carlos died, we had a picnic at the Unitarian church and sang and laughed and cried and shared stories all afternoon. Same thing with a few other folkie friends. It seems sad to say "I don't want one of those when I'm dead." Funerals are for those who are left behind. Don't spoil the party. Perhaps, though, it's important to have a funeral or memorial service that reflects the person who died, not the expectations of the etiquette manuals.
Sinsull, I want to sing a couple songs for you when you go - but stick around for a while, whydontcha.
Hmmm. What would be a good song for sinsull - "Hang on the Bell, Nellie"?
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Rusty Dobro
Date: 20 Aug 06 - 03:23 AM

I'm busy drinking beer, watching TV and eating burgers, as there are so many places I want my ashes scattered there's not enough of me to go round.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 20 Aug 06 - 07:31 AM

Funerals are for those who are left behind.

Completely the opposite of my view then Joe, I think it is a day to respect the person and try to do things they way they wanted.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not sggesting it should be a formal event. I think the oddest one I remember was a guy who wanted to put out in a bin bag with the rest of the rubbish.

OK that bit couldn't be carried out and it ended up as a private cremation with only his wife present. The rest of his wish was carried out though. That was that we should all go on a pub crawl (with the names of the pubs weshould visit listed) at his expense. It worked out really well and I think completely the way he would have wanted it with a bit of humour and absolutely no maudlin stuff.

On the other hand, if someone else wishes for say a formal Christian burial, etc. That is eqally fine my me. Again, it is thier wish that matters to me, not my own view.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: JennyO
Date: 20 Aug 06 - 07:45 AM

Janie, when my son was 9, his best friend was killed when his mother drove him and his brother off a cliff, in an attempted mass suicide. The boys died and she survived, only to successfully commit suicide a few weeks later.

Only the week before the event, we had my son's friend at his birthday party, brought by one parent and picked up by the other. They were estranged.

My son wanted very much to go to his friend's funeral, but the boy's father wouldn't allow him - or any of his friends - to go. He was naturally quite upset that he was not allowed to go. Going to the funeral definitely would have helped bring a sense of closure for him, and I'm sure that it would have helped him deal with the tragedy better. As has already been said, it does depend on circumstances.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Zany Mouse
Date: 20 Aug 06 - 09:30 AM

I think my funeral will be very small because I gave instructions that the only people to attend will be the people who bothered to keep in touch with me in my lifetime!

I think it is truly stupid and hypocritical to not give up time to the living and then attend their funeral when they haven't bothered seeing that person in years. MAKES ME MAD!

One friend of mine went to an ex's mother's funeral when, not only had they not bothered to see each other in years, but it was a very costly trip.

Rhiannon


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: fat B****rd
Date: 20 Aug 06 - 01:28 PM

I've been to a few funerals under various circumstances. The most memorable being a Humanist Service organised when the man found out he was terminally ill. Music by Sting and Hendrix,a eulogy by his uncle and SRO at the Crematorium.
I'm with Little Hawk. Circumstances dictate. I've paid my respects to vicims of accidents, suicides, cancer and in my parents case old age.
My mum, for instance, left money specifically for a meal and drinks for the friends and family. On other occasions, of course, there were no such good feelings.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Aug 06 - 01:50 PM

I've been to a couple of private outdoor gatherings...funerals for friends where we ourselves set it up in our own fashion to remember those we knew...and those occasions were quite meaningful. I don't care much for professional funeral homes and the traditional funeral service. They seem very odd to me. Nor do I care for the custom of viewing a body in a casket.

I've been to pet funerals that seemed quite meaningful. Again, because we ourselves set it up and did it the way we wanted to.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 20 Aug 06 - 04:13 PM

Sorcha:
as it's you,
My ex-Scout Master (and ex-member of the church choir) died, and his funeral was a church affair. Well attended, and with enough choir members (even mid-week) to raise a joyful noise. We sent him off to Hyfrydol & Cwm Rhondda, two great Welsh hymn tunes.
His niece then took those who wanted to go back to 'The Conway' (where we once met you) and put drinks money behind the bar so we could raise a glass or two in remembrance.

Friends and Scout colleagues from over the years all met together and reminisced, and left feeling we had 'seen-him-off' in what he would have considered a fitting manner.

CHEERS
Nigel


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Sorcha
Date: 20 Aug 06 - 04:30 PM

Yes, they are all different, I agree. Been to good ones, bad ones, and truly awful ones. Would like to be present at mine! LOL


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Aug 06 - 05:27 PM

I'm not expecting to have much of one, because I will probably have outlived my immediate family members at that point. Besides, I am universally hated due to the fact that William Shatner takes me for jaunts in his private plane and other stuff like that... (grin)

"Oh, it's lonely at the top!"


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Folkiedave
Date: 20 Aug 06 - 06:51 PM

A few of note recently.

Peter Elliott (Birtley) left his body for scientific research all except his arsehole which he left to the Tory Party. Pat Elliot had the best singing I have heard at her wake.

Sid Long would have been sad to miss his - he would have liked to compere it.

Harry Bell (a mate in Sheffield) left £1,000 to be spent on beer and sandwiches for a good wake. The organiser spent all of a tenner on sandwiches.

My mother wished to go from the church in which she had been christened and married. I wrote out what to say and told the vicar to say that.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 20 Aug 06 - 07:35 PM

Zany Mouse: You are so right on there. As the horizon gets closer I, too, realize that very few feel any concern about my life---but attending ,for show or obligation, a funeral is right up many alleys.   Which is why I posted my earlier note---tongue in cheek, yet deep down true.

               By the way, to show I am not hypocritical in this---I have not attended funerals of people I did not have involvement with in life---for whatever reasons. Relatives and acquaintences (I use that word because if they were friends we would have had social contact) because I thought it hypocritical to atttend. Let people think what they will.   

               This thread is becoming a group therapy session---I hope no one will be sending a bill to Bill.

BH


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Janie
Date: 20 Aug 06 - 08:15 PM

Ah, but Bill H., you are talking about the psychology of funerals. There is also the sociology of funerals;^)


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 20 Aug 06 - 08:31 PM

Janie: That needs an explanation for this old brain.   NOt sure what yu mean by that.

BH


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 20 Aug 06 - 09:12 PM

FolkieDave:
The Tory party don't need any more arseholes!


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Janie
Date: 20 Aug 06 - 09:20 PM

(Oh dear, Bill, you haven't yet been warned not to encourage me.)

What follows is a more or less academic generalization. I do not imply by my words that there are any 'ought tos' or a right/wrong dichotomy regarding the ways a person's death is marked, (or not) by family or the community.

Rites of passage, of which funerals and memorial services are one example, serve dual purposes. We humans need both individuality and a community to survive as a species. There is always a dialectic between the two poles of individual rights and societal needs. A society's or community's laws, mores, and customs are the vehicles through which these sometimes opposing needs are balanced, and reflect the continuing dialog and constantly shifting balance between the two.

    The psychology of death rites is about how well the rituals serve the needs of the individuals who are most intimately affected by the death of a person. The sociology of death rites is about affirming the link between the individual and the community. In some societies this link is even reinforced by the presence of professional mourners. In American society, large churches will often have 'committees' of individuals whose ministry is to attend funerals even though they may not know the individual at all in order to assure a community presence. In other cultures, these prefessional morurners may be paid. Their main role is a sociological function to reaffirm society's responsibility to the individual. This does not imply that the community met those responsibities while the person still lived. It does, however, serve to reinforce the obligation, regardless of whether the obligation was fulfilled.

    When I go to the funeral of a neighbor who I did not know well, or when I contribute money for flowers to be sent from the neighborhood when some one is hospitalized who I do not really know, I am joining in a communication that says the person is valued as a necessary component of the community on which I depend whether I know that person well or not. I am acknowledging the interdependence of 'community' irrespective of close personal relationships, and also acting to reinforce to both myself and the community the importance of that social contract to my ability to survive as an individual. In short, I am attesting to the validity of the social contract, even though I may have few, if any, psychological needs or responsibilities associated with the death of that person.

    I don't mean to sound so dry and didactic. I just don't know how to express it otherwise.

Janie


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Zany Mouse
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 01:16 PM

I've had a few PMs asking about Woodland Funerals. Here's the site I used:

http://www.peacefunerals.co.uk/woodland.html

Peace to all and Blesséd be.

Rhiannon


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Acme
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 03:41 PM

When the person who died has indicated that they don't want a funeral, then you're kind of on your own in determining how and when you want to acknowledge the passing of that loved one. My Dad didn't want a funeral, and I felt like waiting a little while, to give people time to get over the shock and to move onto being able to tell stories and sing songs without crying would be a good thing. I live in Fort Worth, Texas, he died in Washington State. A friend of his who had the familiarity with local facilities and the folk scene set up a Song Circle event a few months later that we all attended, and it was a marvelous sendoff.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Janie
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 03:55 PM

Looking back, the wake that was held after my sister's funeral was the most meaningful part of all of the funeral ritual to me. Family and old friends gathered at her house. Her husband Mickey brought out photo albums of our younger years of festival going, music parties and music sessions on back porches. At our request, old friends brought their guitars, fiddles, basses,banjos and pennywhistles to the wake. They played, we sang, clogged, laughed and cried. If Kaye was anywhere around to observe, I'm sure she enjoyed it thoroughly.

Janie


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Bert
Date: 23 Aug 06 - 04:28 PM

on the icy sidewalks after a bad snowstorm... Oh dear, now every time I walk along an icy sidewalk I'm gonna think I'm treading on our darling SINSULL.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: GUEST,Partridge
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 01:02 PM

At my Fathers funeral last december, we went to the cremation first and had him bagpiped in. This was for family only. We then a service in his church that was to celebrate his life. I read the eulogy myself as I remember at my Mums funeral the minister made mistakes that really annoyed me. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done.
A comment from one of my friends fathers after the service "not a proper funeral without a body" - never liked him much anyway.

we had a wake at the golf club - he would have been sorry to miss that............. I miss my Dad

pat x


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: jacqui.c
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 01:25 PM

Dave Bryant had the right idea as far as I'm concerned. Body cremated without ceremony and a wake some time later for all of his friends. Wish I could have been there.

Funerals, IMHO, are for those that are left. I won't be bothered about what is done to my remains but my family might. I have given instructions to my lot to cremate me without fuss (and cheaply) and to have a celebration of my life, with as many of the people that I call friends present. I hope that they can go through with that but, if they feel the need for something more formal, that's OK with me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Big Mick
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 01:34 PM

Seems to a country boy that there are a couple of things to consider. First, the wishes of the deceased. That would pertain to religious rites, etc. Second, the wishes of those left behind. That is the purview of the surviving friends, and family. I love Sinsull fiercely, consider her a close friend, and she has every right to not have a funeral service. But I will gather with friends, lift a jar, tell about my "marriage proposal" and the ring, laugh about "Koko" who still sits with the kids in the corner of my bedroom (Mary Lou laughs when she looks at her), giggle over her shitty gifts program, and celebrate the hell out of her life. I will do this whether she likes it or not. We will laugh, cry, and in a private moment I will cry over not seeing her again in this world (I know, I know, Mary, but it is my belief) and I will miss her. It is something passed on to me by my Irish ancestors. Grieving is critical to healing. Remembering is critical to honoring and healing. To deny the ability to do that is to deny humankinds essential nature. Of course, this presumes I outlive her, for which there is no evidence to support that conclusion. She might, in fact, kill me first.

I have had two very recent examples.

Dan Milner (Liam's Brother) lost his Mom. The wake was a very uplifting experience. As Dan pointed out, the wake is not historically a religious rite, but a secular one. Religion has been mixed in, but it's purpose was to remind that someone trod the path, remember them fondly, and so pass on to others that they were here. It is a chance to vent human emotion, so necessary to our mental health. I found myself walking away wishing I had the chance to know Nora Mary Milner in my life.

The other was my closest friend in my life, Joseph David Crump. I loved this man with every single ounce of my being. He was the most giving, complicated, and loving friend I have ever had. His heart was huge, his love unlimited, and I will miss him every single day of the rest of my days on this path. His family were difficult, they were preoccupied by his estate, and made the funeral a show for themselves. Joe was not close to them, and that always broke my heart while he was alive. But in his death, I saw why. But I know that this is more a sign of dysfunction in the family, and worthy of sadness rather than condemnation. We, who were considered by Joe to be his "chosen family" were determined to let the family have whatever they needed, but that our part of saying goodbye would be a celebration of this man who gave so much. We started a fund to create a playground in a primarily African American neighborhood that Joe loved and devoted himself to, as he was African American. During our part of the service we spoke of what he meant to us, and our sorrow at his leaving. And in the quiet moment at the end, after a few minutes to allow people to reflect on this life lived so well, I stood to the microphone in this marvelous old church, and sang Dave Carter's "When I Go".

I think that when folks forget what the service is really about, they lose their way.

Mick


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Pistachio
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 07:20 PM

Thanks for a thoughtful and most interesting thread.
At my mother-in-law's graveside an unknown female 'minister' said a few words and I felt sorry for her! She was just doing her job - talking about the deceased, but she used the wrong Christian name and talked about 'her busy life and how 'all her friends' would miss her' .... sorry she honestly didn't have anyone left who was a friend and her life was lived inside a 12th floor high rise flat and then a nursing home.
Whatever, after that experience, a few years later when my father-in-law died, I wrote out about 9 lines of fact, and handed it to the minister who looked so relieved. Able to discard his own 'words for the day, he took time to read my notes and delivered an honest account of Cyrils' life which left my husband, an only child, quite content.
At my Dads' cremation 21 years ago on Hogmanay I remember doing my best to sing out strong, it was the only thing I could do for Dad. I've (fortunately) not had many funerals to attend but I make it my mission to sing out (as I find so few people know the hymns),and it is my best way to say farewell.
Sadly I had two infants' funerals to attend in '92 and 94. I sang then and was pleased when friends of the families thanked me (!) as they found themselves unable to sing.
A young colleague of my Dad died in 2000 and his funeral was a wonderful celebration. The minister entered the church and, tapping the coffin, said "well Walter, you got it wrong!" ....that phrase you always used....'there's plenty of time' ..you got it wrong!"
From then on, for a full hour we listened to comments and anecdotes about this lovely man and how he touched others.It was amazing to see the packed church trying to stifle giggles and smiles -because funerals are solemn and serious - Not anymore!! Endless stories were told about Walter and, by the end the 'gathered friends' left with smiles on their faces. I'm chuckling now at the memory.

I'd like to consider having a 'rehearsal' - but not for a few years yet (though why not?) and gathering all those 'old friends' so that I can see them again....and then they'll not need to make their way, at short notice, when I do chose to expire!

Oh well, good health to you all and keep singing
H.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: SINSULL
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 07:35 PM

That's OK with me, Mick. But I really prefer a face to face in real life.
It angers me to see a non-existent "friend" show up at a funeral and grieve profoundly at their loss when all they had to do was walk around the corner and say "Hi" when the person was alive.

See you in November.
SINS


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 07:38 PM

Janie: I just got to this thread again and I think what you are saying can be summed up, briefly, by stating===a funeral is for the living. They attend for various reasons. Were there no funeral only the nearest and dearest would suffer and mourn.   

       That said, I add that my request---I think I mentioned it earlier---is---hey, have a party and do some nice music from people who I knew---and hope would perform because the liked me too.   They will not be named here.   Only sad part is---I would miss the party (Memorial --if you like).   My daughter, who has my sense of humor, is aware of my thoughts. And, in an earlier note on this thread you can see my thoughts on this----rehearsal funeral like a rehearsal wedding dinner---or, her joking thought, in fact.

       As to the Vodka---if they serve it in the hereafter ===all to the good. If not---I best have some at the rehearsal.

Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Sorcha
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 07:45 PM

PS...I am NOT going to Heaven if they won't let my dogs in...ALL of them!!! (and provide kibble too!!)


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 09:46 PM

Apparently, there aren't too many Catholics on this message board.

Catholics bring their kids to Mass, rather than send them off to babysat by the Sunday school "teachers". Same applies for wakes, funerals, weddings, baptisms, etc. However, they (the kids) are supposed to be "prepared" for the services, ie their parents are expected to explain what is going on to them ahead of the wake/service/burial.

Since I've been attending Catholic wakes my entire adult life, an open casket seems quite normal to me. So does death, because I've been around it ever since I was a small child.

I find it creepy as hell that so many people are now so far removed from death, that they no longer see any point in gathering loved ones together at the end of a person's life. Yes, Catholics believe the funerals are to support those who are left behind to grieve. I don't have a problem with that either. As it should be. We are meant to look out for one another.

OTOH, I just this afternoon went searching for a sympathy card for a friend whose father died last week at the local giant supermarket chain Store near me. They carried a myriad of cards for happy, special occassions. Had five 'get well' cards. Not a single sympathy card to be found on either side of the card aisle (it wasn't small). I find that pretty typical of the happy face middle class folk culture these days. Death = bad. Do not discuss. Do not gaze one's eyes upon another's suffering. And whatever you do, don't acknowledge anything difficult, painful, or outside the normal "have a nice day" topics of conversation.

Which is why this society is so sick, IMO.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Big Mick
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 09:48 PM

I am in absolute agreement with GUEST.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 10:00 PM

Sorry--should have said "I've been attending Catholic wakes my entire life" not "adult life".

I'm not a practicing Catholic. I abhor the hierarchy and dogma. But the rituals are there for a reason, and I have no problem with the concept of why Catholics celebrate the seven sacraments. The older I get, the more comforting I find them.

Azizi, Catholics do still do something similar (sometimes) to what you described as the procession before the family/saying goodbye to the deceased. It is a very emotional part of the ritual, but it's purpose is meant to be cathartic. That is the purpose of funeral rituals in all cultures, whether religious or pagan. Catharsis is what funerals are supposed to be all about. It is the first step in healing, and usually involves a bit of anger and hysteria. Both those reactions are normal and healthy. Being frozen, not being able to open up emotionally, is much more difficult for those who are grieving the loss. Much, much more difficult.

We need support when we lose loved ones. Always have, always will.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 10:13 PM

Of course, if I were Jewish, I'd have a less ecstatic version of what viewing the corpse in an open casket would be like.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Azizi
Date: 10 Sep 06 - 11:20 PM

"Being frozen, not being able to open up emotionally, is much more difficult for those who are grieving the loss. Much, much more difficult".

I agree, Guest, that it's important for people to let their feelings out. But part of my concern with traditions such as that funeral procession in which people pay their respects to the grieving family and then pay their final respects to the person who died is that some people think that once they've "allowed" those "left behind" to express their grief, then there should be no other times in which the person can publically or privately express her or his grief.

In the tradition that I'm familiar with, after the trauma of the funeral service and the burial, people are supposed to join together in a "repast". At the repast [which is usually held in a church basement], neither the family members nor any one else present is supposed to cry or even shed a tear. And there is little if any talk about the person who was just buried. Life is supposed to go on, right? So therefore people are supposed to 'put on a happy face' and talk about what people talk about-their children, their jobs, television shows, shopping, and sports. [Besides the children-all innocuous subjects].

There's such a disconnect about the emotional funeral service and grave site burial and the social repast that immediately follows that burial. I think that it's so very unrealistic to expect someone who's gone through the traumatic experience of losing a loved one to be emotionally fine that same day. Actually, I think it's unrealistic to expect a person whose gone through such a draining, traumatic experience to be emotionally fine that same week or that same month or that same year.

Sometimes it takes a long time to heal. You can be doing fine one day and some memory comes out of the blue and you are blue again.

Guest, you wrote: "We need support when we lose loved ones. Always have, always will."

I assume that 'we' means 'people in general' and 'always have always will' means that throughout history and the present and the future people have and do and will need support during this experience.

I'm assuming that you didn't mean that a person who has lost a loved one will need support for the rest of her or his life.

I-for one-can testify to the fact that healing does happen.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Sep 06 - 06:31 PM

Yes, Azizi, you got it right. "Always have, always will" is a reference to humanity in general.

Interesting sidebar. Irish folks, some of them at least, have what I consider to be a very positive "follow up" with the bereaved, called the "monthly minder". For the year after a person has died, friends and family come together on the monthly anniversary of the death to "check in" with the survivors, see how they are, what they might need, etc. I find that practice to be not only quite comforting, but civilized.

As to the social repast thing, I've never been one for the stoic thing. I'd share your feelings about that too. Grief is a very strange thing. It pops out anywhere, any time, when you least expect it to appear. And to expect the bereaved to be able to do that on the day of the funeral just seems hopelessly unrealistic at minimum, and pretty cruel to boot. But I'm guessing there must be something people do to get around that?


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 11 Sep 06 - 09:41 PM

Well---group therapy. Azizi interpreted Guest's comments correctly according to Guest. All well and good. I can attest to the fact that these things are individual. Sometimes it is harder years later than in the early years. Reality sometimes takes time to realy sink in.

As to the discussion of "repasts" and "funerals". Truth is that it is a tradition --to my knowledge---in all faiths for food after the funeral (burial). Sort of a communal gathering to remember, reminisce, and, yes, small talk to make us comfortable.

I urge you to listen to a wonderful song by Kate Campbell---Funeral Food. It says it all. And truly describes it for all faiths---church basements (as was written on this thread), homes (Shiva), or restaurants when the people come from varied places---her song takes place in a southern home. The song fits all of the above.

Finally---Azizi wrote---"...healing does happen".   Sincerely, I am happy for him/her. Read my first paragraph and find that time does not heal all wounds---as the saying goes.

Hard as it is for me---I now refrain from an old joke and play on words

BH


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Azizi
Date: 11 Sep 06 - 10:12 PM

It occurs to me that being "stoic" is a positive trait among many African Americans.

The current street term for stoic may be "sucking it up". Many but certainly not all African American children are taught from childhood on that "life is hard" and they must be tough. Many but certainly not all African American children are socialized to show no emotion whatsoever when something bad happens to them. If a child cries, he or she is told to "suck it up" {meaning stop crying, and act like nothing is wrong}. From childhood on, many {but not all} African Americans males and females are taught that emotional expressions are a sign of weakness. Weak people get taken advantage of. Only the strong survive. Being cool, not letting anyone or anything "phase" {bother} makes them a winner in the verbal game of The Dozens and in the game of life. Or at least that's the way it's supposed to be in the world according to Black Coping Skills 101.

What does this have do do with funerals? My sense it that during the funeral, the normal restrictions against showing emotions are suspended. The bereaved family & close friends are "allowed" to let their feelings of sadness and loss show. But after the ceremony at the gravesite, once the family & friends get back into their cars, then life goes back to normal and the rules against public displays of sensitive emotions are back in force. People are expected to return to the dominant coping mechanism of pretending that everything is cool.

I wonder if the New Orlean jazz parades after a funeral isn't a colorful example of the Black American socialization mandate that we should act like we're fine while the world is crashing in all around us". I suspect that this is a largely unconscious and deeply ingrained part of African American socialization. Note that I said "act like". That is different than any belief that things really are fine. I think too often Black people {and other people for that matter} "mask" their grief and depression and anger and despair and then we are surprised when they explode.   

Now I'm not saying that coping mechanisms are always bad. But I definitely think that this "suck up" one's feelings coping mechanism can have devastating consequences for a person's self and for human interactions.

****

Guest, thanks for sharing that information about the "monthly minder" Irish tradition. Checking up on a bereaved family and friends once a month on the anniversary of their loved one's passing acknowledges that grief is not a let it out for one day emotion. It seems to me that this "monthly minder" tradition also acknowledges the communities' joint responsiblity to emotionally support people within the community who are suffering.

I wish there were more positive ways for people-men as well as woman-to show their grief-and sadness at other times and not just at funerals...Oh well, if I had a dollar for all my wishes, I'd be really really rich.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Azizi
Date: 11 Sep 06 - 10:26 PM

I really meant to write that "It occurs to me that being "stoic" is considered a positive trait among many African Americans".

As you may have gathered, I'm African American and I don't think it's always that positive a trait. {but saying it that way one can interprete that I sometimes think it is positive}...

And btw, I'm a she, Bill. Not that it matters that much in this context. The racial identifier only matters in so far as I am sharing my experiences that may or may be similar or the same as other African Americans and other people who are non-African Americans. And yes, I am engaging in some thinking out loud about the psycho-social meaning and consequences of our {Black American} cultural traditions. Needless to say, I am an expert only in the sense that I have lived as an African American for more than 50 years...but that an a nickel won't buy me any coffee.

I stand by my statement that "healing happens". I didn't mean that the healing happens always in all ways, or to every one the same way or that what is healed is not still in some ways wounded or that people who are healed are better than they were before they were wounded though in some ways they might be better and stronger in body, mind, and/or soul.

At any rate, my hope is that some healing occurs for all who are wounded. That said, I never said that I was a Pollyanna.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 05:20 PM

I heard, recently, that the New Orleans Jazz funerals represent something regarding life and death. Not "stoicism". The person talking of them (on NPR) was saying that they start off slowly with the mournful sounds of loss---and get lively to celebrate the person's life and also those of the people who's lives will still go on.

I suppose that, like things in many faiths (see the thread on Kosher Chickens), is open to interpretation and belief.

Azizi--I only wrote he/she because I did not want to make assumptions and if one writes "he" it always supposes a man is writing---as you said--not that it matters.

Bill H---as opposed to Billie (female)


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Charley Noble
Date: 12 Sep 06 - 06:12 PM

How did I miss this thread?

As usual I'm posting late and nobody will bother to check out my words of wisdom.

First, though, I love Micca's song.

Second, I too dread boring funerals which probably includes the vast majority that I've experienced.

However, I go to funerals or memorial services of close friends as an expression of solidarity with them whatever the program is. I don't expect to see a program in advance or a menu but when one send out with the invitation it is appreciated.

Being an athiest generally means that I don't have a clue what to expect from a traditional religious funeral. One of our close friends was a Russian Orthodox and I enjoyed the incense and the incomprehensible singing. I dutifully lined up to say good-bye to the departed and was somewhat dismayed that everyone was kissing the corpse in the open casket, but I screwed up my courage and kissed the corpse too. (whew!)

My father's memorial service was carefully planned, scheduled about six months after he died when most people could attend. His body wasn't in attendence but there were huge blow-ups of important times in his life. There were stories that we had friends and relatives prepare, some of the stories well known and some of them known only to the immediate family. There were songs in between the stories. And there was food and drinks to sustain those attending.

I had a great time organizing it. The organizing did distract me somewhat from deeper emotions but that was fine with me. I even led a song, and had a good time. I think most people had a good time as well, and left with a better sense of who my father really was.

I haven't a clue what father thought of this. He would have prefered something more modest but he didn't get a vote. Mother, however, was pleased.

The lesson to be learned. Do the best you can, but please don't waste a lot of money on an expensive casket and speakers who know nothing about the deceased.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 12:47 AM

If it weren't for funerals, I'd never get a decent free lunch or a bellyful of free beer. It's time to put the 'fun' back in 'funeral', folks!

Seamus


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 03:58 AM

I always took the view that I wanted to be bagged and burned and forgotten as quickly as possible.

I figured the time for people to say nice things about you and buy a drink would be when you are here to enjoy them.

However the large bosomed woman with the major league cleavage , mentioned in Sorcha's post, interests me greatly - perhaps I could book her now.

The last funeral I went to, was a Jewish one. All the men (except me, who feels inhibited about such things) took a turn at filling in the grave. Not sure what that all that was about, and we were all asked to wear hats. The service was in Hebrew. Strangely I never even knew the guy was Jewish until his son told me - religion not being high on our topics of conversation.

When you think about it, you don't really need a funeral these days. I mean if you think about Jesus, a real big hitter in this life - there is not even a photograph of him. Shakespeare - people regularly get on mudcat and say he never wrote a word, and anyway he never looked like that.

Nowadays there will be ample evidence of all of our existences - photos, films, recordings, phantasmal voices and messages floating round in cyberspace - things that can summoned up by anyone who is interested.

And theres the rub. Will anybody be interested? To be honest judging from the lack of intereest generated by my work this side of the grave - I really doubt it. And furthermore, would it be desirable for people to be looking at all the foolish things I did and said after, I 've gone? Because there they will be, preserved and sampled in digital reality, fresh as paint.

Now I see the point of those shovels at the Jewish funeral.


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Subject: RE: BS: Funerals and Other Boring Stuff
From: Mo the caller
Date: 13 Sep 06 - 11:24 AM

I don't go to funerals of people unless I know the close relatives, I reckon the deceased won't know or care, but their partner might.


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