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August 02, 2007

Comments

Leighton

In World of Warcraft, my favorite character joke is when female taurens say "D'you know how hard it is for you to get your groove on with the spirit of your great-grandmother watching over you?" When I was younger, I imagined #4 as a contingent of cranky old dead people staring at me through my ceiling while I just wanted some privacy to do what adolescent boys are so self-conscious about doing.

I haven't liked the funerals I've been to, because they were pretty clearly for everyone but the family. I like Orson Scott Card's idea of a Speaker for the Dead, but I don't see many people older than my generation who would much care for such a thing.

Zossima

I've heard people say, "I know if [the deceased] could speak right now, he'd say, 'Come to Jesus'", when I knew that's the last thing the deceased would say.

I hate funerals so much that I told my wife and kids to drag my body into the mountains, play the instrumental to "Layla" as they dump my body over a cliff with a six pack, then let the bears eat me.

greg

Leighton,

I've only read Card's Seventh Son. Anything else I should read?

Z,

At my step-dad's funeral, the minister actually used that phrase. Don was famous among the grandkids for turning them upside down to "check the bottom" of their shoes. Right after the minister said "if Don were here, he'd say..." the hot wife said, "I'm pretty sure he'd say, 'Let me see the bottom of those shoes.'"

fiodax

I would like my body to be bronzed with a hans solo'ish carbon freezing look to it, and then painted with glow in the dark paint and set up as my own tombstone in a dark corner of the cemetery, then I would like my living relatives to spread a rumor amongst the local highschool kids that I wasn't really dead when they bronzed me so that they would sneak out to the cemetery at night and get freaked out by my tombstone/bronzed corpse.

It might be neat to put an mp3 player or something inside the bronzing that moaned or cried to let me out.

greg

fiodax,

My step-daughter has been talking a great deal about death and funerals lately--her paternal grandmother died in June. I told her that she can throw my body in the street if she wants. I honestly don't care about funeral arrangements. I just want everyone to drink as much as they want, eat bratwursts (unless they're vegetarians), and tell stories.

fiodax

That sounds fun, can I come to your funeral :)

emergentninja

greg,
i actually have a leather bound copy of a christian minister's manual. about 20 of its 250 pages are dedicated to funerals and to performance and ordering of the service. some tips for those of you who will direct funerals or give u goo ga lees:
(this is actual advice from the manual)

soft organ music

messsage ought to be personal w/o becoming maudlin?

strive to alleviate rather than increase the family's sorrow. (not sure why this had to be noted)

also, the passages of scripture were arranged according to the age of the deceased.

on a more serious note, i am sorry for your losses. it is at times such as these, where i long for ressurection to be true and even now. i hope you can truly enjoy the memories of your loved ones.

peace,
brad

brenda

There is a book called "Deaths in Yellowstone." My final goal in life is make into that book.

Dallas Tim

I'm going to be cremated and then my wife is going to sell my ashes to Keith Richards so he can snort them.

Leighton

Greg,

Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead are the first two books in the Ender saga, and the only ones worth reading. Speaker is the better work, as Ender spends his life atoning for his childhood "heroism" chronicled in the first book. It has its flaws, but it's worth a read just for the way he handles the funeral of an abusive asshole that nobody particularly cared for.

There are many unfortunate sequels. The next in line, Xenosaga, is mediocre, and I couldn't make it past the third page of book 4. Card's writing is deteriorating as he ages and burrows deeper into his faith, but his early stuff is still mostly good.

Chris

I attended my first Catholic funeral a couple of weeks ago. The Catholic Church takes death seriously. Which was nice for a change.

fiodax

Sometimes I wonder if a great many churches remain open simply because of the funeral. People faithfully pay their dues to the church so that when death comes to a loved one there will be a ceremony that will aid in their ability to deal with this totally alien situation without providing to much of a hindrance to the forward progression of their quest for material wealth or otherwise cause them to have to consider another person or even their own mortality.

Hence the funeral is jello-molded, every step coordinated by a very well paid funeral director. Like an jungle guide in the amazon he skillfully navigates you past all elements that would slow the passing of this monumental inconvenience. The minister is paid to be skilled with words carefully chosen from a string of cliches that have totally lost their meaning lest we be tempted to actually consider what is really happening, or how we or the deceased actually lived our lives.

Just pay the money, let the pastor have a job, who cares what he does from day to day, who cares what he teaches on Sunday, we don't believe it or care, but we pay him so that when death comes he can gracefully get the inconvenience of it out of our way as fast as possible.

Dino

The most difficult funeral I went to was a couple of months ago. A student that was in the youth group where I used to be the youth pastor passed away...she was in her mid twenties. When she was younger she was in a car accident in which her older brother died (he was 7years old.) So this is the second child her parents have lost, they have one other daughter. My former pastor did the wedding, he also lost his 5 year old daughter 11 days before 9/11.

There were some of the cliche's you mentioned, but at one point the pastor did say "how the hell do you get through something like this." Which I thought was honest and appropriate.

The creepiest thing was that she had written a devotion piece for a forty days of prayer thing at the church a few months before, in which she detailed a dream she had where she died and was somehow able to come back and to tell her dad she was ok cause she was in heaven with Jesus. They read the devotion at the funeral. Painful.

Kevin Powell

It's easier to comfort with cliches than to preach a future resurrection. I find many preachers default (myself included sometimes) to a "she's in heaven" sermon.

But coming from a liturgical tradition, the liturgy often cleans up my homiletical mess.

kgp

andy

"He or she's in a better place" is a cliche that forgets those still alive are not - they just lost someone who was a part of them. I have made myself availabe to do funerals for those without a church affilation. I meet with the family and seek to find out about the life of the deceased and even add humorous stories to help lighten the atmosphere and aid in the healing process. I have found at the loss of a loved one that most people want comfort and assurance and, contrary to some of the comments above, are thinking about eternal things and want someone to meaningfully address them.

blessings

greg

Andy,

I'm sure you do the best job you can, but when you say the loved ones want you to address eternal things meaningfully, you utilize language that is simply incoherent. We can't meaningfully address the afterlife if by meaningfully you mean "using words that provide meaning to the experience." We simply don't know. You can speculate; you can offer hope; you can wish; you simply can't say anything meaningful except "we just don't know."

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