Monday, January 17, 2011

On Funerals

This picture only captures a fraction of the elegance of my Auntie’s beautiful horse.

On funerals

Anyone here like funerals? The official, formal part, I mean. Didn’t think so.

I’m starting to form a real dislike for them. I find that the real healing, satisfying part happens before and after the actual funeral. I don’t remember much about my grandmother’s funeral, what I do remember is sitting around at my aunt’s house visiting with my cousins, aunts and uncles in the days before and after and that just being together was comforting. My grandfater’s funeral was exactly 5 minutes long, followed by tea at the senior’s center and then home again. I cried all the way home. I felt alone.

When my grandmother on the other side passed away we gathered in the carport and built a casket together. I painted a big swirly letter B on it in her favourite color of blue (hippies? yes.). Working together on it filled the need to commemorate that I think funerals try to fill.

This weekend the family gathered again at my aunt’s house. No funeral this time for my cousin who had passed away. We played cards, ate pizza and homemade pie and visited. Cousins gathered from all over.

It’s what we all needed, no formal service required.

I’m starting to think why bother with a funeral at all, when, for me at least, it’s the gathering of family and friends that is important and healing.

Am I missing something? Agree or disagree? Please comment.

1 comment:

  1. Hi!
    Thanks so much for the positive comment on my blog about the sock art quilt.
    PS Funerals are important, just not ordinarily enjoyable. A lot of my work deals with the concept of remembrance and universal mortality (such as my Grave Rubbing Art Quilt series). I've even toured a funeral home, behind the scenes sort of personal tour. One of the things I learned through conversations with the director, the crematory operator, the embalmer, etc., is that grieving comes in a vast assortment of ways and that a formal occasion frequently helps some people to accept the loss so that recovery can then happen. These caring people told me about some of the "best" where a Harley-Davidson was rolled into the viewing room, one with theater costumes, one that allowed pets! The funeral can be created, generally with advanced planning, to be the memorable occasion that the deceased envisioned as a parting gesture to loved ones. These are funerals to be remembered....and even celebrated!