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
Leave 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.
REMINISCE ABOUT THE DEPARTED
Someone 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
than they ever were in life anyway, so you may as well have some fun
which I have inexplicably included for your viewing pleasure.
I 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
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
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
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.
After 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
Once the body has been interred, you may go home and watch TV. The
you should continue to go about your life as usual, basking in the smug
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.