Last week I attended the funeral of a relative. I hadn’t seen this person in 40 years so it wasn’t sad for me. She was elderly and lived a full life on her terms. Her death ended years of severe health issues.
Attending funerals makes me reflect on what I want for me. I’ve concluded that I don’t want one. People don’t want to go. It’s sad and depressing. I’ve been to some upbeat ones but that’s rare. It’s not about the deceased. People attend for the survivors. This made me reflect on some of the more memorable funerals I’ve attended.
My former father-in-law had a three-day event. He was Irish and that’s what they do. By the time the burial was over, everyone was relieved to go back to their lives. There were some memorable moments along the way. His kids wrote his obituary. After it was published they found one he had written a few months before. Fortunately all the highlights of his life were included. I also found out that I don’t have three days’ worth of funeral clothes.
About 20 years ago, I attended a cousin’s funeral. I have 50 cousins so these almost require renting a stadium. We were young. The deceased was younger than I am now. It was an unexpected death as he died during routine surgery. After the standard service, there was a luncheon at a nearby restaurant. The tables sat ten people and I gathered up my favorite folks to cluster at a table. I never laughed so hard in my life as we were all telling stories from our youth. We were schussed a few times and asked to keep the noise level down. After two hours we were asked to leave the restaurant. There have been other cousins who have gone but the synergy wasn’t there. Maybe it was the light bright restaurant or maybe it was because there was a high attendance. That one hit a home run. The odd part was that this cousin wasn’t one of my favorites. That didn’t matter. All my favorites attended on the right side of the ground. Sadly many of these cousins are gone and the rest have health issues that preclude them from attending my funeral so it wouldn’t be as much fun.
Near the end of my working career, the son of a co-worker was killed in an auto accident. It was very tragic. He was young with lots of friends. The funeral was well attended. He was buried in his favorite team’s football sweatshirt and they played Beatles era music. It was very hard not to swing your hips and tap your toes. The location wasn’t large enough for the crowd. I stood jammed in the back and didn’t hear the eulogy or service. I commend his parents for pulling it together and giving him a sendoff that fit his style. Somehow despite it all, I felt upbeat when I left. It was the music. No one sang Amazing Grace and much as I love that song, it causes instant crying.
When I buried my mother, there was so much to do that it was anticlimactic. There was a lifetime of possessions to be gone through and paperwork up the wazoo. I remember friends and relatives attending but much was a blur. I’m sure the cousins were there as it was pre-health issues for my generation. What I learned is that funerals are about the survivors, not the person who has passed. Perhaps the decision on a funeral should rest with the survivors.
How about you? Do you have a funeral story to tell? Are you getting buried in red cowboy boots?