Funerals and Death

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by earllogjam, Apr 24, 2007.

  1. earllogjam

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    I'm going to a funeral next Saturday and I've been told that it will be an open casket ceremony. Oh joy. I've been to just maybe 2 of these and I hated it. Absolutely hated it. It all seems just so unnatural, so odd to me that anyone would want to be embalmed with formadehyde, have make-up put on them so they look alive, and then be hermetically sealed in a padded coffin and placed in the ground to be preserved forever. Who is going to dig you up open the coffin and look at you? Does it matter? I understand that doing this lets people remember you better if they can see your likeness, but they never look like how you'd like to remember them. It seems all grotesqe and morbid to me after thinking about it. I used to just take if for granted but now having to go to this funeral - I think it is so against what I feel about the cycle of life. Ashes to ashes dust to dust, come from the earth, return to the earth seems far more poetic and beautiful to me.

    What's the best way to go when your time comes?
     
  2. SpoiledPrincess

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    When I go I want to be freeze dried and placed in a hermetically sealed glass pyramid in the middle of Hyde Park where my priests will sing soppy songs about my beauty all day.
     
  3. earllogjam

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    Like Lenin in Red Square. There will be lines for days girl.
     
  4. B_BristolBill

    B_BristolBill New Member

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    The ritual of the funeral is a good one in my view.

    The 'best way to go' is that which you choose personally before you die. It seems to me that those wishes should be respected beyond anything else so - GET IT ON PAPER FOLKS.

    I prefer the open coffin since (unless the individual was grossly disfigured before death) it gives the living the tactile notion of the person's loss.

    I think our rituals (esp. this one) are in place to help with the grieving process. The current trend at cremation is troubling to me. This "cast my ashes into the sea" thing is troubling too. I want to be able to go to some place (a cemetery) on this earth to visit with the early remains of my loved one.

    Buck up Earlogjam. You'll get through it.

    It's a necessary ritual.
     
  5. HotBulge

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    Lowells talk to Cabots, Cabots talk to God
    How much of the funeral is about the deceased, and how much of it is about the living and how they remember the deceased?
     
  6. rodewet

    rodewet New Member

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    well every body mourens diffrently....funerals are a complex issue ,religion age ,and so much more..... ive been to a lot of funerals,friends realatives my father ...so on .. but hands down nothing comes close to one that involves a child. ---- like my son . ive been shot by a gun ,and lay dying, lost 3 of my best buddies, and lost my father, none (absoulutley )none of those even come close to losing youre 3and ahalf year old son.........rip taylor...12-7-01 5-3-05..youre missed so very much son.
     

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  7. DC_DEEP

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    Tough topic for anyone to agree on.

    The funeral IS completely 100% for the survivors, a way for them to begin the grieving process.

    I've been to just about every variation of funeral and memorial service. The creepiest were the open casket ones, where the "loved ones" were expected to kiss the corpse as they filed past. Being good-ole-southern-baptist folks, both of my dad's parents had open casket funerals. My mom was cremated, but was still in the toaster when we had her memorial service. We did scatter her ashes, but each of her children kept just a bit of the ashes before scattering the rest.

    Some people believe that this actual body will be made whole and actually physically ascend into heaven eventually. That's part of the reason for burial ceremonies. I don't believe in afterlife, so I have specified that I am to be cremated. Being the environmentally-minded person I am, though, I have specified that all my metal dental work be removed and recycled before I go in the toaster - crematoria are a major, huge contributor of mercury pollution. As for what is done with my ashes after the deed, I really don't care. I won't need them.

    Hmm.... on second thought, perhaps I need to take Stranger In A Strange Land (Robert Heinlein) more seriously, and request a barbeque in my honor after my passing....
     
  8. prepstudinsc

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    Well I'm a mortician so I have a different take on this than most people since it's my business. However, it's all about the living. The deceased has gone on, it should be about remembering a life lived and celebrating the memories.

    My grandmother died this past week and I am still out of town because the funeral was just yesterday.

    We used a great funeral home and they let me sort of take over and run things for my family. I did not want to embalm my grandmother, but I was able to do her hair, makeup and dress her. That was the last kind thing I could do for her, because she had been sick for a few months. She lost a ton of weight but being able to embalm her and get her looking like she did prior to death was something that really helped my grandfather, uncle and mother.

    I also planned things on the church end, since I'm also a church musician. Don't get me started on the music--I was crying harder over the bad musicians rather than mourning my grandmother! LOL
     
  9. Belly_Dancer

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    I agree that funerals/memorial services are a necessary ritual for the living. And I know that some people benefit from actually seeing the body in order to have closure, or to accept the reality of that person's death.

    However, my mother died of breast cancer when I was 14, and I must confess I didn't (and still don't) like the image of her rotting in a luxurious, satin-lined coffin.

    I'm not sure whether or not there's an afterlife, but I believe a loving God would not require us to have kept our bodies intact to allow us to enter into it (if you disagree, please understand I'm not putting you down.)

    Therefore, my choice would be to be cremated, and have my ashes scattered in a place that is special to me. But before that, if I died by accident and not of disease, I would want to donate every tissue and organ that could possibly be useful.

    So...they can take whatever parts will help someone else...then burn the rest and let it blow away on the wind.
     
  10. rubberwilli

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    I'm going to agree with "make your own plans for your funeral arrangements if you can". It's never to early to make them, to get them in writing and to talk to your family about them. Funerals are expensive, emotional and gut wrenching which can all result in something very divisive in a family. If you can make your own arrangements and pay for it in advance as well, that's the best thing I think. My grandmothers did that and discussed the arrangements with their children things just ran very smoothly, all things considered.

    My father paid for his own funeral and didn't share his plans with us, so when it all happened rather suddenly, it created tension because we had never discussed it and we didn't all agree with his plans.

    We (his children) agreed to, or were fine with, his decision to be cremated, and we were fine that he paid for it, but we (my sisters and I) wanted a funeral or service (which he didn't) and I wanted to know where the ashes would be interred or placed (contrary to his wishes that the crematorium just dispose of them so he wouldn't be a trouble to us.) I needed to know where my dad was, even in death. That was a year ago and he's still sitting in the funeral home on a shelf because we haven't gotten together to take care of the ashes, and to be honest it's not that big of a deal now. But when someone dies, everything is very emotional and you react emotionally to those situations and I "needed to know" ion the 48 hours after he died. It was shock basically.

    So, my words of wisdom are, plan in advance (wills and funerals) and tell your family what your wishes are and make sure they know why those are your wishes. It's never to early and it's not morbid to think about this, it's just reality and when you don't talk about it, it can create big problems for your family in the heat of the moment.

    I personally hate open casket funerals. It's not the final image I want to have of a loved one, dead, lying in a box. I avoid funerals at all cost and my family knows my aversion to them all to well. I refused to go to my paternal grandfather's funeral, I only went to my paternal grandmother's because by father forced me to "get in the car you're going!" followed by "Go up there and say goodbye!" and my maternal grandmother's to support my mom. My niece's funeral last year, I only went to support my mom who was so wrapped up in the grief of 5 years of failed cancer treatments and watching the slow decline of her only niece, I had to support her so my focus was her. And at my fathers funeral/memorial I had to speak for the children since none of my sisters would say anything, they were too shocked by the whole circumstance.

    That's all probably TMI, but if it helps someone else then it's all worth it I guess.
     
  11. JustAsking

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    rodewet,
    I cannot begin to imagine what losing a 3 1/2 year old son is like. The last picture of your family by the casket is just too much to take. Bless you, my friend and may your son find grace and love in God's presence.

    earllogjam,
    I agree that funerals seem like a very bizarre practice. Especially open casket funerals. However, as I get older and as I attend more funerals of people who were close to me, I have come to find two things about funerals to be important (to the living, that is).

    1) Funerals, especially open casket ones, seem to provide a necessary visceral and emotional function in the grieving process. Truly seeing the person who has died and even touching them seems to be very important in helping people move on from the sense of unreality about the person's death, to beginning to accept it. This was so strikingly true for me at my father's funeral and my mother's funeral. Even through the odd artifical cosmetic appearance that a made-up dead person usually has, my memory of my mother or my father in the casket seems to be indelible after all these years.

    In another example, I remember something very odd when I was at the funeral of my 95 year old grandmother. When she died she was still living at her apartment and getting around with the help of a few younger relatives. However she was so fragile and she had all kinds of health problems. I was always worried about how she was going to get through the next day without something really bad happening to her. At the funeral I remember at one point looking over at her in the open casket and having this profound warm feeling come over me that now she was safe and far from any more suffering or harm. Strangely, the feeling mostly disappear when I looked away and it would come right back as I looked at her. Although I am a religious person, I am not implying anything supernatural here. I am only saying that the psychological benefit of actually viewing her in the casket was for me very important and profound. I can recall some of that feeling now these 20 years later.

    2) Family and friends show up, view the deceased, and make an "event" out of the passing. This is very important. When I was younger I couldn't figure out why all the family members would come to a wake or a funeral and end up discussing every day life. I expected people to not be able to think or talk about anything else but the deceased person. Later on I realized that the "showing up" is the most important thing. A person's life is honored by the fact that family and friends have suspended every day life and have come together for this sole purpose.

    Later on, being in the "receiving line" at funerals for my father and mother, I realized how extremely important to me it was that all kinds of people showed up at the wake or the funeral. Especially people you haven't seen in years and people only peripherably related or acquainted with the deceased. This is an important aspect of wakes and funerals. In the midst of your grief, it is extremely soothing to see your family members and close friends, but just as soothing to see the basketball coach or someone you would never have expected to show up, coming down the receiving line. It helps to constantly remind you that the deceased was a real person who affected the lives of many people. It helps you hold on to the fact that the life of the deceased was valuable and from that so is yours.

    So earl, here is the advice that I give to anyone who asks me for it. If you know someone pretty well, who has had a close family member die whom you did not know, it is always useful for your friend for you to go to the funeral or wake. Your presence there is always treasured at the moment and long afterwards. You don't even have to say anything to your friend and the other family members. Just going through the line, locking eyes for a moment and shaking some hands is extremely helpful.

    As for the open casket. If you don't actually know the deceased, its perfectly ok to just turn from the end of the line, stop for a moment and look at the deceased for a couple of heartbeats and move on.

    There you go. My two cents on your funeral question.
     
  12. earllogjam

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    Although I understand that funerals are rituals for the the friends and family of the person who died - I deeply think the ceremony should be a direct reflection of who the person was, their beliefs, favorite foods, their views on afterlife, God, what have you - as a gesture of respect.

    I am dreading the personalized sermon from a priest who never knew the deseased.
     
  13. HazelGod

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    I have no intention of going anywhere other than into cryostasis.
     
  14. agnslz

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    When I die I'd like to be wrapped in a sheet and buried directly into the ground, without a coffin. I assume this is not possible anymore, so I guess I'd be happy with anything other than cremation. I'm not comfortable with the idea of being cremated, at all.
     
  15. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    I don't much care, as long as they don't tell me about it.
     
  16. mindseye

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    I've been to more funerals this week than any human being ought to, and I've still got one more to go to tomorrow.

    The service I went to today was for the victim that was emotionally closest to me. Her casket was closed, as were the other ones I'd been to, because she had been shot in the head and face, and no mortician in the world could have made her presentable in a way that wouldn't be horrific to look at.

    I had known Jocelyn Couture-Nowak only as a friend and colleague; we worked together here in Blacksburg, and her family lived in Montreal. They came down for the service here, and I wasn't at all prepared for the emotional reaction of seeing so many faces that looked like hers.
     
  17. earllogjam

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    Thank you JustAsking - Thank you for your wisdom. Thank you for sharing. And thank you for caring.
     
  18. rubberwilli

    rubberwilli Member

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    I couldn't agree more. These are the worst! My father and my grandmothers all had some random minister talking about them. I think that was one of the worst parts for me. It just made my stomach turn.
     
  19. JustAsking

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    Yes, I have to agree with that. I find it embarassing for a family that the main eulogy for their deceased loved one is being given by someone who doesn't know them. Since, as you can see, I am long winded, I am usually coerced to the podium at funerals involving family members and I manage to set the record straight about what the deceased life was all about from a family members point of view.

    I have become the family's resident eulogizer.
     
  20. chicagosam

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    Neptune Society. No funeral. No obituary. No visitation. Ashes spread in a special place by a friend, but undisclosed. I hope everyone would get together and have a celebration of life if they needed that.
     
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