Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Is there such a thing as being too prepared?

Have you ever thought of what you would like in the way of a funeral? Have you thought about the hymns? What kind of flowers? Who do you want speaking for you after you are dead?

I went to a funeral for a friends husband today, he was only 37. The whole thing was very sad. Sad mostly because his kids are only 11 and 8. To lose your father that young would be tough, I was 23 when I lost mine and it wrecked me.

The saddest thing, however, was how pitiful the whole production was. It is all well and good to stick with your own perish at a time like this, but this is their business. Any church on the planet should have funerals, weddings and christening down to a science. It was like a dentist who just couldn't do a decent filling.

We walked into the church and I knew right away it wasn't Catholic. Oh, there were the obligatory stained glass windows, pews that were hard and uncomfortable, the smell of candle wax and hymn books on the seats. But that is where the similarities ended.

First of all, there was no altar, definitely not Catholic. I look up on the left of the pulpit and there is a huge picture. Not of any religious figure, that would be expected. It was a man in a top hat, what the hell was that about? And I am sorry, but there is something inherently wrong with a big-ass clock behind the pulpit. And when I say big, I mean you could see this thing from space.

Catholics are more traditional, we do weird things like put the Lord up there. Big cross, that sort of thing. Madness I know, when that space can be put to better use, like inform the congregation of the passage of time. But once the service started I saw the wisdom of this. It was a hope clock, hope that time is indeed passing and that there is an end in sight.

The minister, unfortunately, was about 12. I was worried about him the second I set eyes on him. He began the service and he made no sense at all. He was reading the scriptures like he had never heard them before. You know how that sounds? If you don't put inflection in the right place, everything sounds wrong. I think an older minister could have done it a bit more justice. There is no substitute for experience in situations like that.

The choir sounded like it was hastily put together. Even though most of them were in their late seventies I think maybe it was. As we were standing at the back of the church looking for a seat, one of the singers asked if we wanted to sit with them, all we had to do was sing.

I don't know about you, but I want a choir that has at least met each other before. A couple practices would have been nice. But once they realized how much they sucked, they should have done us all a favor and kept the hymns to one verse.

The personal stuff, from family members and the priests own personal reflections about the deceased was heart wrenching. The man knew for about 6 months that he was dying. He tried to do all those things that you put off thinking you have all the time in the world. He had family portraits done, bought gifts for the kids, memory boxes for their graduation presents, that sort of thing. He even got diamond earrings for his daughters wedding.

Perhaps he really didn't care how the funeral itself went but you only get one chance at a decent funeral, you have to make it count. I have been to some beautiful services, so I know it can be done.

Is it morbid to plan for your funeral now, in the event you have no say in the matter later?


Virginia Belle said...

i haven't planned anything, but that's because i'm only 27 and healthy. also, my mom (The Czarina) is still alive and she's good with stuff like that.

I hope she writes down what she wants somewhere because i have no idea. And if i do the wrong thing, she will haunt me.

you think i'm kidding.

Anonymous said...

I have talked often about what I want.. What about U? Have you told friends/family/kid?

I have asked my parents and spouses parents.. etc .. about what they want.. My Mom and Dad and I went and worked with the church as to what Plot was theirs and how they wanted stuff done..

Radmila said...

Beyond knowing that I want to be cremated, to my mothers horror, no. I haven't thought about it.

On traditions of other faiths and churches...it's all what you're used to.
I remember when I attended my first Catholic Christening. I was surprised to see the assembly line of parents with babies.
It seemed strange to me...being Orthodox, Christenings are a huge deal, and the ceremonies are elaborate and individual..like weddings.
But, I guess regardless of the outward appearances, the main thing is the faith. Maybe it's the fault of the griefsticken person who organized the funeral....