Sunday, February 12, 2012


Why do we have visitations/wakes when people die? 

Well, let me rephrase that. Why do we do them the way we do?

All my life, with all my loved ones and all my friends, there has been a visitation one night and the funeral/burial the following day.  At the visitation, usually there is an open casket placed on one end of the room.  Flowers surround the casket.  Chairs, tables and Kleenex make up the remainder of the room.  There is usually some bad music piped into the room.  Friends and family come to pay their respects.  Some people view the body, some don't.  Most stand as far away from the casket as humanly possible while still remaining respectable.  Stories are told, condolences are shared and that horrible awkward couple of hours ends with everyone feeling drained.

I sure wish there was another way to do it.  Death sucks.  Hands down.  So, I know it's a sucky time, plain and simple.  But, isn't there something else we could do to honor our loved ones, celebrate their lives and, if you believe, rejoice over  their homecoming to a higher being? 

I read an obituary the other day, and it said there would be no funeral, but friends were encouraged to meet at the families house.  I had never read anything like this, but haven't stopped thinking about it.  I like the idea of bucking convention in this manner.  I told Steven and Taylor that when I die, just cremate me and have someone give me a final blessing.  No funeral homes.  No bad makeup.  No dead body sitting in the room making everyone else feel like absolute crap. Put up some of the more flattering pictures of me and play all my favorite tunes.   Just get some finger food, lots of beer and have a great time telling stories about how great I was.  Find solace in each other, be sad if you must, but then be happy again. 

I know there are many psychological studies out there about the way we do it and why it's necessary to help us heal.  I get that.  I certainly can't speak for everyone, only myself.  But, please don't put JuJu in the corner. 


Cheyenne said...

I have always hated funerals from the time my parents made us attend at a reasonable age of course all the way up to the last one a few years ago.

I totally agree with you. It is really stupid what some people put themselves through for a funeral. The person is gone, they are not aware of a thing and yet people want to have a funeral so friends a relatives can come and pay their respects so they feel better. But the one closest to the deceased feels crappy. Makes no sense and to me it is rather barbaric.

I have been reading yuor blog for a few weeks and cannot remember how I found you.

Grandma K said...

G and I have already planned (and paid for) cremation. Part of the decision was my horrible experience with the funeral home. I didn't want my kids having to deal with that. Another part was why be buried? In this day and time - with families spread all over the world - who visits graves like they used to? Why take up ground space or be in a mausoleum? And third - I think we went ahead with the total package because of my cancer diagnosis.

What is decided to do with me post death and cremation - that's up to them. I look at funerals as being for the survivors.

Darla said...

I am totally in your corner, so to speak! Don't put me in a corner in a casket, either. I have explicit instructions for cremation for me, and my family knows this. Donate any and all organs to help someone else.

I will let you know that my Moms' funeral started out like a death walk...all quiet; you could hear a pin drop. BUT, after a very short time, you never would have known it was a sounded like a party was going on! It was wonderful to hear family and friends talking and laughing. It was a true testament to how loving and loved my Mom was to all of us. And at the end of the evening, the stress was not hanging over us like a mantel. Even my Dad was in a good place. It was a blessing all around.

But as for me, dust to dust...literally. Park my urns' ass in the sand with an umbrella over me, and I will be just fine, thank you. :)

And don't let me get into the whole "how creepy I think the whole grave thing" is to me. It is still hard for me to go to the cemetery!

mel said...

I, too, want to be cremated.

I don't know though...I know funerals are painful but, Ju, am I really going to be any less sad if I am sitting with your friends drinking a beer? You will still be gone and I will still miss you.

I don't know if I view it differently because I am Irish or because my dad's cousin owned the funeral parlor growing up but wakes are where everyone comes together and people let down their barriers so we can see and share the pain and the sorrow, the tears and the hugs, and the stories too. No matter how we do it,it is sad when someone we love passes. And I think I would rather acknowledge that and share it so that when I am later alone and crying because of the sadness I know that other people too feel the same way. A wake is horrible but it is a sharing of raw, human emotion - - a sharing.

Phew, didn't think I had so much to say when I started!

SPT said...

In my family, we mostly do "celebrations of the life of xxx." It is a memorial service - hymns, sermon, and then usually a few family members or friends speak. Some of my relatives have been buried, most cremated. But the service was the same no matter whether buried or cremated. No caskets to be seen.

And then afterwards there is usually a reception where the church ladies put out food.

I too want to be cremated. My grandparents all have little plaques with their names on them at a church garden from their home town so if we want to go "see" them we can.

I haven't really thought of it, but if there is a service i want kick ass flowers (no cheap funeral arrangements) and good wine.

JuJu said...

I'm all for people gathering together to lean on each other, cry, laugh, etc. I do think we need to be with others during times of grief.

But for me? I don't want it done in the sterile environment of a funeral home. And, I don't want my loved ones to feel that they are on display along with my icky body.

Thanks to all for responding. I truly enjoyed and appreciated all your responses!

sherri s. said...

My mom and I just scattered my dad's and my brother's ashes. Lots of different places. Some of them were guerrilla scatters, some funny because the ashes blew back on us. Much better than a casket, for sure! Turn me into fertilizer, please!

word: minestri

I like minestri soup, but please leave out the borgorigmus (what?!).