Final Exit

The King funeral renews a topic I really enjoy talking about – how does your family celebrate¬† death? I remember when a friend’s grandmother passed away and he was totally freaked out because it was going to be open-casket. And I’m thinking: I’ve never known anything but open casket funerals. In my family everybody goes to the funerals. No matter how young you are. One of my cousins never could walk into the main room of the funeral home and I remember my grandmother thought that was incredibly strange – and dishonorable. You come, you view and you eat. Then after the funeral you divide all the food and take it home – we call the deli sandwiches grief-meat.

And I noted how icky I thought it was that people were actually touching Corretta’s body during the viewing. I think that is disrespectful – we may show the dead in my family but there certainly isn’t any touching! But I’m sure the ones doing it feel it is deeply respectful – and I know that if the family didn’t want folks to have that kind of access they wouldn’t have allowed the viewers to be so close.

I feel like this was starting to get like the Reagan funeral where the processions are just endless. I felt so awful for Nancy that they dragged her, her family and her dead husband’s casket all over the country for days. It just seemed so emotionally grueling for the family. At the same time it is paying honor where it is due (in King’s case, not Reagan’s).

4 thoughts on “Final Exit

  1. JB

    Hmmm…well, the last four deaths were kinda complicated. Two were in the US and I wasn’t really close enough (distance or relative) to go to the funerals. The other two were my father’s side of the family, who most of the rest of the family, including me, don’t get on with, so I only went to the one funeral for my uncle and that was years ago. It was hardly a celebration. I think I’d feel kinda icky looking at a dead relative, to be honest. Each to their own, I suppose.

  2. Gigamatt

    the first funeral I went to was that of my sister’s college roommate. i was freaked out, not only because I knew her, but that I had to walk past her on the way out! AND I HAD TO TOUCH HER! freaked my shit out. apparently, in some families, that’s just what’s done, and my bf’s family does it that way (he was there helping me with his support). my second funeral (again attended with the bf), was another friend from college. i could barely look at him, let alone touch him. i was a total emotional mess. i gave my condolances to the family, remembered a few funny stories with other attending friends, and got the hell out of there.

    seeing one of your best friends (or your sister’s roommate) in a casket should not be one of your first funeral experiences. especially when you’re almost 30.

    luckily, my dad’s family is kind of distant, but also seems to be opting for cremation without a service. don’t know what my mom’s family will do, since there hasnt been a funeral in 30 years.

  3. Alan

    My family is sort of old fashiond that way too. Always open casket, always a huge meal afterward. I’ve never seen anyone but immedate family actually touch the body though. I’ve been going to funeral since before I could walk. However, my brother’s kids have never been to one, and one of them is nearly 18! that seems pretty strange to me.

  4. Brigitte

    My college roommate died in a car accident my freshman year and I remember being so irate at her funeral. Not only at the blatant tragedy of a young life cut short, but irate that my final picture of her looked nothing like her. The funeral home’s used a makeup plot that resembled an 80 year old woman and her hair was still wet from being washed and not blow dryed. That wasn’t my friend. It was a stranger.
    I much prefer memorial services. 3 of my grandparents were cremated and there was something very healing about saying the final goodbye before they returned to dust. It was more of a celebration of their lives and how they touched everyone in the room, without the vision of death staring us in the face. My memory of the last time I saw them wasn’t tainted.

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