Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Strange Business of Death

Today I attended my husband's uncle's funeral.

Funerals are never thrilling simply for the subject matter but this was especially so. The whole event was more of a promotion to get us to attend this certain church than it was about the man himself.

The minister asked for people to get up and talk about the deceased; which received few takers. Not that the man wasn't liked or loved mind you but it does create uneasy moments when you are not prepared for such things.

Those who spoke didn't know him and wanted to go on about us all believing in Jesus (not G-d) and how we should give ourselves over to the 'holy spirit'. My husband, my daughter and I were not impressed. Weren't we there to honor the man and not the place he chose to worship?

A little disappointed, I should say.

Both my daughter and myself returned home while my husband went to the graveside service and party afterwards. Now that I found strange. I suppose it has a lot to do with my not being Christian for my uncomfortable feelings.

My family's mixture of German and Scot traditions in dealing with the dead are very different. We are a bit more irreverent in our honoring of the dead. Somber, I suppose.

The event made me think how different and cultures deal with the death of a loved one. My husband and I have discussed his family's need to forget very quickly by changing subjects.

We held shivah because that is what we have always done to honor the dead. We also keep the 'sitting up with the dead' tradition. For a week we keep mirrors covered and set the table with one more plate. We do not speak of the deceased until a certain amount of time has passed.

Then we honor thier passing with planting a tree in their honor.   I find the partying when he is not even cold in the grade a bit disconcerting. But I do understand how some are nervous about death. They talk about death being another step but most of the time I don't believe they believe their own words. Death seems to be a scary propitiation even for the living.

After all, most Americans don't even honor All Soul's Day any longer or have an idea of what it is.

And the soul is what most are worried about. Aren't they?  Running from death doesn't make it any farther away. 

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