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).