Friday, June 12, 2009

The American Funerary Ritual

So unsatisfactory. So morbid and creepy. So expensive. What a giant racket.

So help me, the person that decides to place my corpse on display will be haunted. I mean it. The people that show up and declaim that it looks life-like will also be haunted. Stick my hull on a boat, set it on fire, and float it down the river, yo. Forget this bullshit embalming, $4000 casket, crappy over-scented floral arrangement, rigmarole. Do not force my loved ones to stand over my corpse and smile and nod and shake hands for hours on end. Ugh. Hate it.

I went to the "visitation" for a colleague's sister the other day, is why I bring this up. I don't know who decided that the bereaved should be forced to play smiling hostess for hours on end, standing in the vicinity of the deceased, but it seems to me sadistic as hell.

I am grateful that my immediate family are as goobed out by corpses-on-display as myself, and we all plan to be cremated. My mom says she will haunt me if anyone plays "Amazing Grace," on account of she thinks it's the most depressing tune in the history of depressing christian tunes. Noted! The last funeral my brother and I attended, my uncle's, some terrible song started playing and we made eye contact because we both had the same thought: HOLY FUCK WE HAVE GOT TO PICK OUR OWN FUNERAL MUSIC BECAUSE THIS? IT SUUUUUCCKS!! Because we are music snobs, and heaven forbid someone play some cheesy-ass inspirational tune with no indie cred what-so-ever.


mighty jo said...

i want a green funeral. dig a hole & toss me in, hold the embalming fluid!
when my brother died last december his poor wife had to stand for 5 hours recieving the hundreds of mourners who flocked to his service. my mom--i think she has Munchausen by proxy syndrome--enjoyed all the attention...she was the only one.

Jezebella said...

Green funeral would be just right. Too bad the funeral industry has lobbied so you can't actually get buried without being embalmed. How crazy is that? And good dog, five freakin' hours? It's cruel and unusual.

Neko-Onna said...

Ohh, I know! The music thing is a particular issue for me. I tell my husband all the time that: 1.) I want to be buried in a literal pine box, and I want my coffin to be a time capsule, with neat artifacts for some future archeologist to dig up; 2.) I don't want a funeral presided over by some clergy person I don't know, but rather I want a short gathering where people who knew me can stand up and relate funny stories about me, with a short musical interlude of songs from my favorite albums; 3.) NO open casket viewing morbidness!! A slideshow of pictures from my life will do just fine, and; 4.) I want the little gathering followed by a nice buffet-style dinner. The little kids can run around and play while they finish off the last of their brownies and Jello salad, and the older folks can sit and catch up with each other. They can stick my carcass in the ground with no fanfare after the dinner is done, or at their convenience the next day. No "visitation", either. One uncomfortable gathering is enough.

Bird said...

We had a memorial service for my mother at her church (her choice). The music was all stuff she wanted--she used to sing with the choir there and left a list of songs she liked. One of them was "You Are My Sunshine" because that's what she sang to us as a lullaby. Not bad. Still very funereal overall, but at least it showed her personality.

She was cremated, and a couple of weeks ago my brothers and I went to a favorite spot in a provincial park in BC. We scattered her ashes among the trees in an old-growth cedar forest. It was quiet and simple, and afterwards we had a picnic on the beach.

Of the two events, the second one holds far more meaning for me. Funerals are such public spectacles, and I felt like I didn't really say goodbye until that simple moment standing quietly in the forest.