Funeral antics

One of my favourite things people say to other people at funeral homes is, “he/she looks good” or “he/she looks lifelike.”  They are dead.  That does not make anyone feel better.

I decided to keep a running tally of how many people said that at my grandfather’s funeral.  I am just that kind of person.  If I subtract the 10 times my Dad and Uncle said it to spite me, I had a total of 33.  And it isn’t even like I talked to everyone.

Pretty epic.

He looked so lifelike, my grandmother (bless her heart) asked twice who was sleeping over in the corner.  If I count those… 35.

My other favourite (not) thing is when people take pictures of people in coffins.  Some people in my grandparents’ generation were especially big on that.  I was secretly hoping to catch someone snapping a picture.

I remember people bringing the funeral pictures home with copies for relatives.  I guess you wouldn’t have to worry about the subject moving for the shot.

At Patrick’s grandmother’s funeral, one of Patrick’s uncles was taking photos of his dead mother, as well as some of the funeral goes… That was until he was scolded by his 89 year old father.   I know it is a little insensitive, but I think it is a bit funny.

Besides being mistaken for a teenager and being hugged by strangers (both unusually common occurences in my day to day life), I was asked repeatedly what my grandfather was like before he died.

How is one supposed to answer this?

My blunt self wanted to say… “Comatose.”  I mean, gee…. What do they think people are like before they die?  I wasn’t sure what kind of timeline they are looking for… I generally went with comfortable.  Seems less morbid.  More acceptable.  Patrick confirmed that for me.  Thanks dear.

My Dad got in a heated debate with one funeral goer who was convinced my Dad was not who he claimed he was, but some guy he knew who sold fish from a truck up North… They argued about it for several minutes.

This was not quite as awesome as my Grandmother who honestly told everyone “I don’t know you.”  And then smiled and nodded to their explanation of how they know her and responded, “that’s nice” then looked at her sister and said “I still don’t know them, do you?” or some other variant.  It is sad, but I enjoy her contentedness in being lost.  And it was good comedic relief from time to time.  Especially because she was just so cute about it.

In other funeral home incidents… They accidentally delivered flowers to my grandfather that were intended for the dead guy in the other funeral home room.  We spent two days trying to figure out who the heck sent the flowers and how in blazes we were going to get them a thank you card.  Apparently, we need to thank total strangers.  Whoops.

My Grandfather was very strict about his beliefs about praying for and, importantly touching the dead person.  So much so, he taught the kids in my generation that if we didn’t touch the dead person, they would come back and pinch your toes while you were sleeping in bed.  My slightly older cousins were all making sure they touched him so as to avoid the risk.  My Aunt pinched one of them at the same time.  They hysterics heard from the room likely led the funeral home people to think we were more crazy (they already knew we were crazy when I was cracking up reading the poems for the back of bulletins… some of them are awful cheesy and really sad).

In case you are wondering… I didn’t touch him.  He knows my feelings on touching dead people in caskets.  And he hasn’t pinched my toes.

I know, I come off as insensitive.  But, it is fascinating what happens on such serious and solemn occasions.  People are ridiculous.  And I am the first to admit that I am too.

8 thoughts on “Funeral antics

  1. Funerals are tough for everyone. Guests don’t know what to say and the family is struggling with loss. I never appreciated them until tons of people came out for my mother’s funeral. I was so touched by the gesture that I have been more religious about attending them since then. I NEVER comment on how the dead person looks! I have been to some very upbeat funerals that have actually been fun (is that allowed?). I hope my funeral is fun. Maybe I’ll have to plan it myself.

    • It is true. People don’t know what to say. But, it is amazing how people come out and care enough to take the time to visit.
      I have been to some pretty upbeat funerals too.
      I hope your funeral is fun too. I want mine to be fun too.

  2. Hi Trisha,
    Reading this post made me smile. Especially the part about touching the dead person else they come back and pinch your toes.

    I was always the type who did not want to see, let alone touch someone who had died. At the end of a funeral while everyone filed past the open coffin to “pay their last respects,” I would quietly slip out the back. All of that changed at my mom’s funeral. We had a private viewing for just our family (about 20 of us…including kids and spouses, grandkids) an hour before the services began. Being with my mom when she passed away, I realized how ugly and raw the dying process can be. Lying in her coffin, my mom looked, well, beautiful. It was cathartic for us to be together (lots of tears and hugs) and see her looking maybe not lifelike, but at least more like she was before she got so sick and died.

    I will probably still slip out the back at funerals where I did not know the person very well. But I felt differently when it was someone I was very close to. I guess everybody is different in how they deal with death and grief.

    • Glad to make you smile!
      My Mom is more intensely a not wanting to see the person after they died kind of person. She does well to be in the same room as a casket unless it is someone she is extremely close to. I understand why people are uncomfortable with it. Death is ugly and raw and it is amazing how people get, well, spruced up.
      It is good seeing your mom changed your perspective and was cathartic.
      I am not bothered by seeing bodies, and I touch dead people all the time to pronounce death, but I haven’t felt the need to touch someone. I think everyone has their own way to say goodbye and it is individual for both parties.

  3. Very funny but touching post. One of my favourite comments from funerals is:”He (or she) lived a good life.” How would they know? At my grandpa’s funeral (when I was 9) i made comments to my aunt and uncle (grandpa’s “children”) about how were were all dressed properly for a funeral – in purple or black in dress, suits, skirts, etc. That got a laugh from them in an otherwise sad time. I was close to my grandpa.

    • I agree… The “He/she lived a good life” statement is often a how would you know kind of statement.
      That sounds like an adorable thing to say as a kid at a funeral. It is always great to have a good laugh!

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