The Funeral

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Photo on Visual Hunt

It’s good to be back, especially because it was about a 6-hour road trip both ways. My depression is beginning to cover me like a blanket again, but I hope it’s just stress from the drive this past weekend and the weekend before.

We arrived at our hotel, which is about 20 miles from the tiny Midwestern town in which the funeral took place. (My mother-in-law warned us not to stay at the hotel in town lol!) This was the night before the funeral, so we weren’t able to go to the visitation, which was held in the funeral home. The casket is there, and it’s a chance for family and friends to say their good-byes, and for friends to offer condolences.

The next morning, the family had to congregate in a room at the church at 9:45. It wasn’t as awkward as I thought it would be, and I wanted to support my husband and mother-in-law, who I’m close to, so I spent time talking to her, which felt good. My uncle-in-law’s (?) side of the family was there. I haven’t seen them in maybe 10 years, but I don’t know the cousins and their kids very well. The mood wasn’t somber, which I expected, but almost festive because it was also a family reunion, even though it was for a sad occasion.

However, I did feel awkward because I was the only person of color there. One of the cousin’s kids kept staring at me, and when I told my husband, he assured me that it was probably because she’d never met me before. I’m used to being around my husband’s immediate family, so this was hard to shrug off.

That awkwardness followed me to the church, and stayed with me through the service. I’m a lapsed Catholic, but I’m still used to things being done a certain way (though obviously, there’s no right or wrong way). It was so different to me that the congregation didn’t do the sign of the cross lol!

The female pastor (obviously, I’m used to priests) gave the eulogy, and it was a wonderful celebration of the deceased’s life. It was so moving that I almost cried, which assured me that I’m not a heartless person, after all. My husband was one of the pall bearers, and the internment at the cemetery was quick. She was laid to rest next to her husband’s grave.

A luncheon took place at the church afterwards, and fortunately there was food my husband and I could eat because we’re vegetarians. Later, we changed into more comfortable clothes and spent time with the family at my aunt- and uncle-in-law’s (?) house. Some of the cousins had left by the time we arrived, so I didn’t feel awkward at all. Although it was a sad occasion, it felt good to be around my husband’s family, because I hadn’t seen some of them in years. I was glad to be there for my husband and his mom.

Does this funeral service echo the way it’s done in your culture?


via Daily Prompt: Congregate

19 thoughts on “The Funeral

  1. Strangely enough, I’ve never been to a funeral. It’s partly that a number of people in my family didn’t wish to have funerals, and in other cases it just hasn’t been practical for me to travel to where the funeral was.

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  2. My family was Catholic, so most of them are Catholic. I am glad they had vegetarian food–these days it is sensible since so many don’t eat certain things.

    In Tibetan Buddhism, which I have been for some years, it is entirely different. I am unsure if I will have a Tibetan Buddhist ceremony–presumably, but I ought to get cracking on setting it up with a lama in case I pass on and stay dead.

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    1. We were in a small Midwestern town where meals are mostly meat & potatoes. But I also had a feeling they’d have mac & cheese lol!

      What is a Tibetan Buddhism funeral like?

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      1. Super-different. Mostly if the person is actually Tibetan Buddhist and living there or in India, they would have a range of ways to be buried, including being put out for the vultures to eat–seriously. They do a kind of divination to find out what is most appropriate for that person. In the west, it seems like people get the usual burial or cremation, although it is believed that the spirit may stay in the body for a few days so they don’t necessarily hustle people to get buried right away but make sure that the person has indeed moved on. That happens mostly with actual Tibetans or lamas, where they can stay where they are for a day or so and not be hustled out like if they pass on in a hospital or something. For the 49 days after the death, prayers are read out loud to the dead, mostly instructions on how to pass through the afterlife and get the best reborth. It is a very complex system that has been goijng on about 1300 years in Tibet, and maybe 1000 years earlier in India etc., since the Buddha was thought to have been born about 2500 BC/CE.

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  3. I’m so sorry for your loss, and the stress that you faced during your trip there, and back. I think the three hardest funerals I ever attended were my grandparents and my ex-husbands.
    My ex-husbands was a Jewish ceremony that lasted over 6 hours. By the time that was over, I had to drive back 6 hours. I was so stressed, depressed, and exhausted. I think I slept for over three days from that experience.
    I’m happy that you got through it. That shows strength.

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  4. I actually just got home from the wake of my cousin, and have been thinking about her upcoming funeral… I’m anticipating it’s going to be a tearful ceremony, and I’m afraid I might be too sad afterwards. I’d wanted to keep those memories about my cousin in which she was alive and well, and not have the image of her in a casket as the last thing about her imprinted in my mind. But what you mentioned about the pastor giving a eulogy that was a celebration of life sounds comforting. Maybe I should start seeing funerals as a celebration of a life well-lived, too.

    Thank you for sharing this.

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