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Monday, August 5, 2013

Funerals, Fly-bys and Fiasco's

Funerals, Fly-bys and Fiasco's

A decade or so ago, I became "unfulfilled" going out with a small group of my older-than-me-friends on lunch dates that turned into funeral chats.
I was trying to decide about retirement and they were planning their deaths!
This does not work for me! I thought.
Gotta hang with the less depressing people who are plotting retirement, not death.

I should not have worried about maybe hurting their feelings by opting out of lunch.
One by one they died, or faded away in some other fashion.
Not one of them remains on the scene.
I was hardest hit by Ellen's death.  She was the one I was closest to, and THERE WAS NO FUNERAL.
Ellen had said to us that she wasn't having a funeral....and I thought she was kidding!

Her death hit me hard, because.....there was not a way provided to grieve in community for her.

Oh, I grieved privately, but when I would talk with anybody about Ellen it was one on one and I had to initiate the conversation "out of the blue".  We never even went out to lunch together as friends to cry  in our soup that Ellen was gone.
One of the group dismissed my scattered wool gathering by saying, "Oh, Ellen was such a plaintive woman."
I puzzeled over the word plaintive for days, weeks, months....and years.  Damn it!  Give me a story about Ellen that goes with plaintive!  What does plaintive mean?

I almost bought a little doll that looked like Ellen to stand on my dresser to remind me of her and how important her friendship was to me.  I didn't buy the doll.  It was a money thing.  Is that sad or what that grieving has its monetary limits for some people!
I tenderly put "Ellen" back on the store shelf, saying a whispered choked up, heart felt good-bye to her.

Of course I do not blame Ellen for axeing her own funeral.  She was, after all, a plaintive woman.

I don't like funerals either.

How horrid that I am now thinking of my own future funeral.  And yours!

Mostly mine.

It's odd my thoughts have turned to a subject I  am not real interested in  since my funeral will not be for me.

It won't be for me.

It will be for those left behind.

And speaking of those left behind......  Janie just told me of a funeral she went to for someone on her husband's side of the family.
It was only the second funeral within that family group Janie has attended and apparently the first funeral fiasco had taught them nothing!

Janie said the entire family is unchurched, and completely incompetetent about the whole grieving and burying thing.

However, that family does have one pagan cult member (not that there's anything wrong with being a pagan)  who was interested in certain strange rituals....so that fueled a family fight at the cemetery.  Which struggle went well with the misting rain that was wrecking havoc with the Fed-Ex box of ashes flown in that very day from Oregon.
"My god, they are burying Grandma in a Fed-Ex Box!"
There was no one in charge, but several opinionated attendees.
Apparently the children who were present stood on lawn chairs, the better to see the cemetery drama.
The entire farewell took place under the weepy sky, no overhead shelter.

There was no pastor present to help unify the attendees who were "done with" each other for long-standing reasons.

Apparently the funeral itself was a reason to grieve.
Individuals left that funeral angry...jaded.....disappointed.....or relieved.......
but certainly not uplifted, nor strengthened individually or as a group.

Birth.  Marriage.  Death.  Life's great events.  Meant to be shared, both joy and grief, in community.

Is your community in place and working well for those you will leave behind?

I wonder, if we look down on a departure for us that has materialized into a fiasco, will we laugh or weep?
Either way I doubt any of us, having lived to be old, will be stunned by what we see at our departure gate.

Probably plaintively yours, (whatever that means)