It's been a long time since I wrote my original Guide To Funerals. It's one of the first articles I ever wrote, and the childishness of my worldview at that time certainly shows. Fortunately, dear reader, a lot has changed since then. I've grown up. I've matured. I've gotten married, bought a beautiful four bedroom, one-and-a-half bath ranch home, and my wife and I have had 3 beautiful little boys (Zack, Moses, and Topper) all of whom are now the collective loves of my life.
Also, I've apparently begun lying for no reason, because none of that shit is even remotely true. I live by myself, eat pop tarts as meals, and spend most of my free time writing shitty stories about sasquatches. So yeah, life is pretty good.
But I hope you'll excuse me, because I have to get on with disrespecting the recently dead and the behavior of those who grieve for them.
OFFER CONDOLENCESLeave no doubt as to the purpose of your visit. Immediately upon walking through the door, say something along the lines of "Too bad your kid died" or "I heard your grandpa was burned alive in the fire, that sort of eats." Don't worry if nobody from the family is there to hear it. Issuing condolences to the funeral director, a small child, or even an empty entryway filled with coats is very much acceptable. As they say, it's the thought that counts.
But whatever you do, you should NEVER apologize to the family. Apologizing implies feelings of guilt, so unless you feel like being implicated in the as-of-yet unsolved anal icepick stabbing of your uncle Rufus, it's best to keep your mouth shut.
Professor Goodtime Cowboy Baseball: DEAD AT 21
REMINISCE ABOUT THE DEPARTEDSomeone who has just lost a spouse or family member just loves to be reminded of all the wonderful and unique qualities the person they will never, ever, see again (ever) possessed. So why don't you go ahead and do that. Don't worry if this seems to upset the bereaved even more: Deliberately stirring up excruciatingly painful memories of the recently deceased is all part of the grieving process!
And if you can't think of any good qualities (or if none existed), it's probably best to simply begin making up mildly ridiculous anecdotes about them. Everyone always makes the dead out to have been far better people than they ever were in life anyway, so you may as well have some fun with it.
I invite you to enjoy this photograph of anthropoid bears
which I have inexplicably included for your viewing pleasure.
BRING FLOWERSI cannot imagine a better way to honor the memory of the recently deceased than by presenting their closest relatives with the expensive (yet entirely impractical) gift of flowers. You may also want to include a card:
I'm sorry your sister is dead. In her honor, I present you with the following set of organisms which were torn from the land at little cost, and sold to me at an appalling markup. May your days be filled with joy as you watch these once-vibrant plants slowly wither away and die, until they are nothing but a decayed pile of rotting brown filth upon your coffee table. As well, I hope that on the day you disgustedly toss the plastic Walmart bag containing the remains of these flowers into the waste bin, you will be reminded of the festering remains of your dear sister Mitsy as she lies, decomposing, under the soil.
Admiral Windsor Chumley: DEAD AT 21
DO I HAVE TO GO TO THE FUNERAL?In a word: Yes. You are expected to be present at pretty much ever funeral you hear about. You might foolishly assume that you are exempt from having to attend the funeral of a friend or loved-one because you paid no attention to them while they were alive. In reality, the opposite is the case. The majority of those who attend funerals paid no mind to the deceased while they had the chance.
Most grandmothers, for example, are ignored entirely by their grandchildren once these children reach the age of 16. But wouldn't you know it? The old woman kicks off and suddenly everyone is gathered around sobbing and talking about how wonderful she was. That's the beauty behind the funeral: It allows you to selfishly ignore elderly relatives at the expense of your own social life for years, and then spend a single day "mourning" and "paying your respects" to them once they're gone for good. Then it's back to the bar!
I think you'll find that this method is far more efficient (and enjoyable) than spending actual time visiting or communicating with an old person to assure their happiness while they're still alive.
I DON'T BELIEVE IN THE IDEA BEHIND FUNERALS. DO I STILL HAVE TO ATTEND?What a ridiculous question. Of course you must. What those who stand opposed to funerals fail to realize is that they cater to a basic human need: The need to grieve. It's a well-known fact that all human beings grieve in exactly the same way: By sitting around sobbing uncontrollably over a corpse wearing makeup while a complete stranger reads to them out of an ancient and violent book.
Now some of you out there might be thinking "But I believe that traditional funerals are calculated exercises in suffering and misery, entirely bereft of anything resembling joy, humor, or hope, and I do not wish for a guttingly awful despair-ridden experience such as this to be the last thing I remember about this person who I cared for so very deeply and moreover I may be of a different religion than the church holding the proceedings and find many of the views which are expressed throughout the proceedings to be ridiculous, if not outright offensive, to such an extreme that they might interfere with my own personal grieving process!"
Give me a break.
"Oh boo hoo! You're callously infringing upon my closely held beliefs! I have the right to grieve in my own way!" Let me tell you pal: This selfish notion of independent thought and the right to personal freedom has no place in a civilized society like The America. Read your constitution! Bullheaded adherence to nonsensical traditions trumps freedom of choice every time.
Rupert "Tubby" Cubbins: DEAD AT 21
THE PROCESSIONAfter the ceremony and afterparty have wound down, a funeral procession is likely to take place. The idea of the procession is to insure that the death of the deceased inconveniences as many people as humanly possible, including Law Enforcement Officers Who Have Infinitely More Pressing Matters To Attend To and Regular Motorists Who Wish to Reach Their Destination Without Having Their Progress Impeded By Leisurely Corpsehaulers.
Yeah, that's it: TAKE YOUR TIME YOU BASTARDS
AFTERWARDSOnce the body has been interred, you may go home and watch TV. The following day, you should continue to go about your life as usual, basking in the smug sense of self-satisfaction which often comes with performing a pointless and unpleasant action which society happens to have deemed important.
So good luck with all that.
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