As readers know, my father was seriously ill and passed away this last Saturday. I can't remember how it came up but I probably asked my mom when the funeral would be. And she said, there won't be one. I must have looked very surprised, as she commented on how surprised I looked. She went on to explain that she was going to have my father cremated, and then later on in the year have a remembrance ceremony, probably involving balloons. Her feeling is that my dad is not in his body anymore, why get an expensive coffin and bury him, when how she wants to remember him is in other ways.
I really like this for a number of reasons. Everyone will be invited in the future to come remember the life of my dad. Almost all of us in the family were with him all day while he was dying and, frankly, that was about the most perfect experience in this realm, ever. We all had a chance to love on him, talk to him, even if we weren't always sure he was hearing us, and share our grief with other members of the family. In a sense, it was like having a funeral beforehand... except better.
I mentioned a while back here about how when my grandmother died, she had a Come To Jesus style funeral, and my cousin said some things that unintentionally made our whole branch of the family feel excluded. And that later we found out that my grandmother had specifically asked for that to be said at her funeral, which, for me, mitigated the circumstances. I found out that my mom also had been upset at those comments made by my cousin and hadn't known, until the other day when I told her, that it was upon the request of my grandmother. Anyway, my dad was not a fan of that style of funeral, and there was another reason for skipping it.
When my husband's grandfather died, the man who did the service got his name wrong. It was kind of startling and everyone in my row looked over at him. Made me realize that it must happen pretty often that a preacher does a funeral and may not even be personally connected or know well (or at all) the person who has passed away.
A more crass reason, that my uncle said, is that, unfortunately, sometimes funeral directors prey on people in their time of grief, getting them to spend more money on a fancier ceremony, coffin, etc. Better, I think, for my mom to have that money for the rest of her own life-it won't make any difference in how we feel about Dad.
My mom has never seen the movie "The Big Lebowski" and I"m not sure I would necessarily tell her to go watch it, although I think she might find it funny. But I did tell her about the part where Steve B dies and John G and Jeff B go to the funeral home to collect his ashes. And that when the director tries to get them to go with a fancy, expensive container, John G goes to the store and buys a big can of Folgers, which he empties out, for the ashes. Seems fitting.
The one thing I do like about funerals is that it's an occasion to see people you haven't seen in years. The last time I went to a funeral, it was really great to see uncles and cousins and other kin. But that doesn't have to be the only time to see your kin, it's just the only semi-mandatory time. Nothing stops me from writing, calling or visiting anybody.
A while back, I was considering, after attending the Moore funeral here, what I would want to have done at my own funeral. I read about people who decided beforehand which songs to sing, what they would like to have done, etc. I think, for me, I would like to copy my mom's idea and ask for a remembrance, with poetry and happy celebration to be held at a point in fhe future after my death. And I'd like to be cremated and have a memorial stone.
I do believe that because we were all able to spend the day together as a big family, that it has supplanted any need in me for a funeral. I asked the hospice nurse to please print out the words to "Love Lifted Me" and my mom and I sang it to my dad, who loved that song. We also joined hands and prayed. everyone who came was able to sit by his side and hold his hand, talk to him, kiss him, and carress him. I'd much rather have been able to do that before he died than crying about it afterward at a funeral.
So it was all good. And will be.