Fun at Funerals
Funerals are traditionally perceived as unpleasant affairs where people try to avoid being upset. Endings are difficult, but the end of a life is particularly painful. Then there are the circumstances of the dying: age, type of death and the mourners’ relationship to the person.
In many other situations such as work, social life, and holidays an inevitable eventuality would be planned for, so not to spoile the occasion.
People plan financially for their own death but it is rare that any emotional plans are put in place. In 2012 with the help of medical science and the prevalence of people dying of cancer there is an opportunity like never before of predicting death, and having some time to prepare. A wonderful example of this is Tuesdays with Morie. The dying man invites friends to his house to speak about life and death. They have a wake for him while he is alive! But it seems this is so rare that it might as well be fiction!
Talking to dying people who know they are dying is a revelation into one of the central human dilemmas: dying, and character of the dying person. From the denial that nothing is happening, through some sort of inevitable fateful occurrence, to acceptance, sadness and regret! Depending on the attitude of family and friends, mixed with the attitude of the dying person the dying process becomes an opportunity or a burden. It might be an opportunity to reconcile and examine our own attitudes towards the dying person and death itself, or the opposite – having to keep up a pretense to avoid feelings which the dying person cannot cope with. People comfortable with feelings, and people avoidant of feelings is a challenging mix.
This mix feeds into the funeral. If there has been an opportunity for emotions to be spoken out loud before the funeral it can be more fun, a celebration, if not the funeral can be a lifeless, formal occasion. The funeral can also be a release for people to celebrate and have fun without the limitations of the emotionally avoidant dying person being there!
Culturally there appears to be greater and lesser emphasis put on the funeral, and what happens afterwards. There might be a meeting, a party, or everyone going home! A little booklet of the persons’ life is a summary and talking point of a life, to be referred to in the future. Singing songs, dancing along to a DJ set, and making informal speeches by anyone who knew the deceased add life and colour to the celebration.
The funeral day is an opportunity: what sort of opportunity is an insight into the family and the person who has died.
Fun at Funerals
Copyright Adrian Scott North London Counsellor Blog 2012
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Disclaimer: This weblog content are the views of the writer and for general information only.
This article is designed to provoke argument and critique.