We have just concluded the interminable living room cheese eating event that characterizes the days between the moment of death and the detailing of the body. Now we are detailing ourselves to go to the funeral parlor, which is just around the corner. And this makes me happy. And this fact, that of my happiness, I do not have to keep a secret from the People's Republic of Blogistan: Of all the death events common to most American households, my absolute favorite is the Viewing or even better, the Wake.
Those days of endless cheese calories are necessary, to be sure, but they provide only distraction, not closure.
As for funerals, I have been to my share, and the results, at least for me, are always the same. It is a public display of the mourning family members, who get to sit in the front row and try not to make complete asses of themselves while the rest of the people in the church do whatever letting go they have to do - while, of course, watching the family lest someone come totally unglued and require their laces cut. (No one ever admits that they secretly want to see at least one person lose all composure, because hey, it's the FUNERAL - the LAST GOODBYE to whomever it is everyone put on all the itchy and uncomfortable clothing for. Somebody, anybody be in pain. Show some hurt, please. Otherwise we could have stayed in our sweatpants and watched Antiques Roadshow.
No, funerals are just not good.
I like wakes. Viewings. At a funeral parlor, the deceased is actually in the room, open casket or no, and I still believe that human beings are just enough percentage of monkey to actually need to let go of the bodies of our dead. At a wake, it takes a special kind of selfishness to lose track of the point of the event: someone is dead, and that someone is not you, and though you might be missing Antiques Roadshow right now... it's not about you. And if you are having trouble not thinking about yourself, there is a dead person in the room to remind you to cut it out.
And then by the time the funeral happens, any residual letting go can and does happen, and maybe someone freaks out and requires smelling salts, which is at least sort of interesting. And then everyone goes home and wonders how long they have to wait before it is acceptable to do something normal, like go to a movie.
I saw my mother's body, and the funeral was just an afterthought -- expect that everyone was staring at me and waiting for me to wail and throw myself into the aisle and have a seizure.
I did not see my father's body. I would like to have seen it but I was not allowed to. And truth be told, by the time of his death, I had not really seen the man who raised me and was married to my mother in a very long time. My presence at my father's funeral felt more like an imposition on my step mother than anything else. I could have happily skipped it.
Is it just me, or does anyone else find funerals as useless as I do? Go ahead and disagree - I am pretty sure I am in the minority here.