On Funerals and Other Lighthearted Topics

I had occasion to attend the funeral of a close family friend yesterday. It occurred to me during the service that death is something organized religion still does pretty well. I'm not a practicing member of any particular religion, nor am I a booster for organized religion, but the funereal is right in it's wheelhouse.

The death of a loved one sets you adrift; even if you've been anticipating it for some time, it's never not (in my experience) unexpected, and is pretty gutting for the folks closest to the deceased. There's an absence now that wasn't there before, and you try your damndest to steer around the edges of it so you can hold yourself together, but you're also required to stare right into the heart of it and publicly acknowledge it.

"Here is where a person once was." Everybody has to wrestle with it eventually.

I suspect that organized religion sprang up in the first place (among other reasons) as a means for providing ready-made infrastructure for dealing with death.

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"Here is where a person once was. They were in pain, but aren't any more. Some of us loved them deeply, and always will. Let's remember 'em."

Of course, it's all wrapped up in embellishments for which I have varying amounts of time and patience, but it's a pre-baked system and service for solace and removing some of the organizational burdens from people who really shouldn't be expected to plan an event down to the most minute detail.

There are secular services that cover most of the things that organized religion does and have more or less rendered it obsolete for day-to-day life in the West, but for the life of me, I can't think of anywhere that does the funereal quite so well.

On a related note, I intend to write my own damn eulogy. "He went kicking and screaming and by God, Death himself had to come by to pick him up. We'll never buff out the gouges his fingernails left in the laminate."

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