Wednesday, June 30, 2021

I Want a Funeral

When I move on to join the invisible choir; when I kick the bucket and, then, quickly following thereupon, buy the farm, just to be sure I did things properly, I don't want a "Celebration of Life." I want a good, old-fashioned, tear-jerking, black-clad funeral. 

Have whatever you want for your loved ones. Call it what you want. I'm not judging you. These things are personal choices and no one can be told they are doing things "wrong" and I'm not trying to do that. It's just that, for me, I think the best thing to do when someone dies is to be somber and sad. We're wired to cry when we lose loved ones, and cry we should. 

I get it, though -- the whole "celebration of life" thing. A while ago, I lost a close friend. He was younger than I am and we lost him to an unseen heart ailment. He wasn't religious, so there was a remembrance...thing. I don't think anyone called it a "celebration of life" but we spent most of our time sharing funny stories. (He was the most obnoxious, irreverant, inappropriate, foppish oaf I have ever known, and I [and we all] loved him for all of that.) The whole thing was full of laughter with a sprinkling of tears. 

But, it's weird. I find a strange sense of open-endedness in his loss. That's the best I can describe it. Of course, I'm not the important one here. As long as his family got what they needed from the day, that's all that matters. 

In the end, I think I want a little more gloom at my funeral: people standing in the rain in sunglasses, looking all pale and drawn; distraught loved-ones having to be pulled away from my coffin so it can be lowered into the ground; a priest who intones like Max von Sydow; low, slow-rolling thunder; Barber's "Adagio for Strings" running through everyone's heads; one of my sons, kneeling under a rising crane shot as the rain falls, yelling "Why!? WHAAAYYY!!??" up to the deaf,  leaden heavens... That kind of thing. 

Call me grim. (I'll wait.) 

My biggest loss, ever, has been my dad. We had a traditional, Catholic funeral. I wrote this and read it, tearfully, at times, and there were many tears because of it. We only moved away from long-standing tradition in two ways. First, there was no open coffin; he had said, many times in his life, that he did not want that, so that was non-negotiable. Second, he was cremated. I have a small regret about this. When I visit his grave, I really don't feel like I am visiting "him." To have known he was under that headstone in his physical form (at least in my memory) would have been comforting to me. Ashes don't feel the same. 

In the end, all of tthese post-death procedures are for the living. My dad, being dead, doesn't care about any of this; neither does my friend. In the end, I want my family to do what they want -- whatever they need. But I strongly urge them to consider going about things in the way things have been gone about for centuries: tears, gloom and black clothing. Somehow, we decided, at some point, as a human collective, that this is what we needed. There must be a reason for that...

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