I'm at a stage of my life where I'm really learning that I have control over whether or not I make myself do things that I don't really want to do. But sometimes I have a hard time clearly seeing if it's "Ok, no, I don't want to do this, but I really should, it would be the right thing to do" or "Nope, don't want to do this, I'm an adult, it's ok for me to not go there/do that/whatever".
An old man that I used to know passed away over the weekend, and the viewing is tonight, funeral is tomorrow. Him and his wife were the sweetest people, very well known at my old church, he always had a piece of candy for the little kids. One of the nicest people you'd ever met.
I stopped going to that church several, several years ago; had some teen angst, mixed with a severe dislike of most of the members there, and had a serious issue with the way some things were being handled by the leaders (none of this had to do with the man that's passed away). So while I loved this man when I was a little girl, I have not seen him in YEARS, and I don't have any desire to see the people from my old church.
I was planning on attending either the viewing or the funeral (mostly out of a sense of "I should"), but I'm starting to chicken out. I HATE funerals. Who doesn't, I know..but I always feel so uncomfortable, and I have a serious problem with a dead body laying in a casket just.....laying there. For people to stare at. Gives me the heebie jeebies.
I reallyreallyreally don't want to go to this thing, but now I'm feeling a little guilty. I don't even know if his wife would recognize me (I look very different than I did when I was younger), so I doubt my absence would be noticed or hurtful. Is it really ok that I don't want to go? Or do you think this is something that I need to get over myself and go anyway?
Only a few weeks ago, Washington Post columnist Carolyn Hax referenced an edition of NPR's This I Believe called "Always Go to the Funeral," written by Dierdre Sullivan. I'd never heard of it but just found it so touching. This is so, so worth reading and living, whether you go to this particular funeral or not. And I say that as someone always willing and able to talk myself out of doing something I don't want to do!
I don't think you really need to go to the funeral, but if you want to ease your guilt, you could go to the viewing, even just stopping by to sign in, and maybe send a plant or make a donation to the church in his name. I know that when my father passed away, I lived in a different state. By the time I had made it to the funeral home, I had missed several people that came to view, but I noticed that several friends that I went to high school with had come and signed in his book. That really touched me, that even though we hadn't been in contact, they still at least stopped by.
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Stomped on your roo. Originally Posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' :
Go to the viewing, skip the funeral mass. Give your condolences to the family, and leave. You don't have to stay but 5-10 minutes.
The viewing and funeral aren't about you or the people from your old church. It is about the deceased and their family. If you don't know what to say to the bereaved, I think you can simply say, "he was so kind to me when I was younger, I will never forget that."
I say go. You won't feel bad about going, but you might feel bad about it if you don't.
I saw a human pyramid once. It was very unnecessary.
Was just going to point to the same Diedre Sullivan piece.
I would go. I would go because family appreciates having the pews filled and people respecting someone who was good to them. I would go because it's a way to remember and honor the kindness he showed you. And I would go because at the end of the day, a little discomfort to me from showing up isn't really worth much in comparison to the weight that being present can bear. I'd rather be there and be able to say thank you in person to someone, to tell them that their spouse or loved ones mattered to me in my life.
But that's what works for me. It may not for you -- and far be it from me to tell you what is right or wrong for you. I just think that a little discomfort isn't such a bad thing, when it's a kindness to someone else.
I've been on both sides: when my father died I was so, so touched by the people who I hadn't seen in years who took the trouble to stop by and share a kind thought or a funny memory, or just to show up and pay their respects. It meant a lot.
So go and simply say what you said: that he & his wife were the nicest people and you have lovely memories of him. You don't have to hang out at the wake, just stop by, sign the visitors book if there is one, and say your sentiments to whatever family member is the lead mourner if his wife is not there. It's common for casual acquaintances, neighbors, co-workers to stop by the viewing but not attend the funeral.
On the other side, I recently took a vacation day to drive 4 hours one-way to another state for the funeral (there was no viewing) of someone I hadn't seen but once in almost 30 years, and that once was at a family funeral. But when I was a little kid this person, who was 20 years older than I and a family relation, was a big part of my life and was very kind to me. Life took me far away and as I said, I never saw him again, but when he died all those memories came flooding back, so I went.
When I walked into the vestibule of the church for the funeral, his widow was there greeting the people who came. I recognized her right away but I knew she didn't recognize me as the skinny blonde kid I was 30 years ago. I came up to her and said my name. She burst out, "THANK YOU!", threw her arms around me and burst into tears. All the memories of long-ago came back to her, too. I would've driven much longer than 8 hours that day; she appreciated it so much.
After my grandfather died, it really struck me how many people came by his visitation and stopped to tell my dad how much his father had changed their life, or to tell a funny anecdote.
It really makes you realize that you touch more people in your life than just your immediate family, and that you mean something to everyone you come in contact with. Its comforting, in a way, to know that not only does a legacy live on in family, but the memories of friends and people who you have known throughout your life.
I saw a human pyramid once. It was very unnecessary.
I'm the opposite, I'd go to the funeral and not the viewing. I just cannot bring myself to look at a dead body........just cannot! Also, going to the funeral does not mean that you have to go to the gravesite as well! But, do what you feel most comfortable with, and if that means just a condolence card, well that's fine too....at least you're remembering for yourself what a nice man he was.
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I'm in the "go" camp as well. Funerals are for the living, not the dead so much. And the living seem to take a lot of comfort and even joy in feeling/knowing that their loved one touched others.
I would say go to the funeral, not the viewing if your purpose is to show your support--something about having all the pews full. But if you don't want to "deal" with your old church family, then going to the viewing would be a way to connect with the person you're really there to see and avoid many of the others.
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When my dad's mother died my mom had been estranged from that half of my family. She did not want to go to the funeral services.
Then she remembered that before she married her son, the woman was Aunt Frida to her, a kind friend to her other.
She was glad she went.
You do not have to go to the casket at the viewing.
It is strange, true, to see something resembling a person laying there, but not too overwhelming.
But you can pick either, I suppose, the viewing (I think it's customary for people to attend it when they can't make it to the funeral or were not particularly close) or the graveside service.
In case you run into people you wish not to speak to, 'ah, that's nice, but I have to go' works well.
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Until my husband died I never really appreciated what it means to have people acknowledge a death, and the value of a life, by attending the viewing or funeral. It was all a blur, to be honest, but after the fact, in the days following the funeral when family had left and things calmed down, I went through the cards from the flowers, read the names in the guest book, and started to receive condolence cards and notes in the mail. They meant the world to me, and ever since I will always send a card and attend at least the viewing. (I don't look at the casket, either...creeps me out.)
Go to the funeral. It is polite, respectful, and the right thing to do .Believe me, any teenage drama that you were a part of has long ago faded into most people's distant, distant memories.
When Mr. Flightcheck's father died, we were so touched by those who took time out of their very busy lives to attend (we did not do a viewing). It was such a comfort to my husband to have people he didn't even know say a few words about what a wonderful person his father was.
And to carry this further, what if *everyone* didn't go? How would the poor widow feel?
Remember, the body is not the person. He is not in that body, it is just a shell, not the person.
FlightCheck, who does feel that open casket funerals are *BARBARIC*
I took a "death and dying" sociology class in college, it was a very powerful course, and one thing that stuck with me - is that the instructor (a grief counselor) really emphasized the importance of going to funerals etc.
The families are usually surprised by how many people their loved one touched. They get to hear about their loved one from many different people, from different social circles.
If he was a nice man, and one that you cared for, or honored in one way or another - GO. Its a small sacrifice that will hopefully bring joy to the hearts of his loved ones.