FUNERALS ARE FOR THE LIVING

As my age continues to advance (I’m not complaining, considering the alternative) I have become more contemplative about my eventual and inevitable demise.

I can only hope to slow, not end the process. Stepping off the path is impossible save for a few detours as we traverse the orange cone lined zones of life that provide temporary respite.

Film critic Roger Ebert’s recent death brought greater awareness of this essay, excerpted from a book, in which he deals with the reality of his death. http://www.salon.com/2011/09/15/roger_ebert/

It contains much wisdom and is applicable no matter your religious persuasion or if you, like me, have been persuaded by no religion at all.

But that deals with dying whereas funerals deal with death after the fact. One can muse to one’s heart content about their dying, its pain or not, their life regrets or appreciations, or even how they want their death observed.

But once dead, they no longer have any feelings, any eyesight, any hearing or any thought processes by which to observe the world around them or to form any opinion whatsoever.

Whatever happens to finalize the final recognition of their life and disposal of their remains is done to satisfy the needs and desires of those left behind. Even if the deceased had expressed preferences for ceremonies or other details and observing these requests demonstrates respect for these wishes, not doing so will not change the fact that the deceased is dead.

Take my mother, Please! She died in December of 1991 having provided for her cremation and specifying that she wanted no funeral nor graveside service when her cremains were laid beside my father in a cemetery in Wheeling.

My brother and sister and I, my mother’s grandchildren, a few remaining other family members and some friends all grieved just as anyone grieves when a loved one passes. But there was no fancy casket, no overwhelming flower arrangements, no dirges played, and no ostentatious public display of mourning.

Despite this low key approach my mother today remains as successfully dead as any decedent whose passing was observed with great expense and all the exhibition of decorum demanded by tradition and funeral home marketers.

Any personal affairs or financial accomodations were satisfied and wrapped up quickly with little fuss and absent any hint of acrimony.

Contrast that to the families torn apart by fighting over what the dead wanted and how they wanted to be remembered and the expense involved when the dead had no greater concern with these matters than they did with the ongoing debate over the size of Kardashian asses.

In these cases the dead are still successfully and blissfully in that state while their survivors are relegated to their fifteen minutes of fame on Judge Judy arguing over who pays for what while proving to a national TV audience that non-humans indeed are entitled to their day in court.

I wish to emulate my mother in terms of no funeral. Additionally, if I can complete the proper steps, there will be nothing of me left to bury. That oughta cut the cost waaaaaay down.

On the other hand I do wish for my sons to hold a celebratory party for whatever family can attend and for all my friends. It could be that reserving the rest room at Burger King will suffice for space. But…who knows? Perhaps it would be necessary to rent Mountaineer Field to hold all the folks who want to give public thanks for my passing. That would have the added advantage of the police being able to interview in one venue all the “persons of interest” who may be responsible for my death.

Most of us live our lives with varying degrees of success— personally, professionally, financially,—and that success is rarely sustained for much more than 30-40 years. But I can pretty much guarantee that all of us can remain successfully dead for centuries, if not longer (it depends on whether George Romero has use for us) whether the world learns of our death via flowery obituary or gleefully circulated hate-filled email: whether our corpses are contained in fancy caskets or Hefty Bags: or whether any formal service takes place in the most magnificant cathedral or the humblest parlor in a loved one’s home.

Once we achieve death we are immutable objects who will be modified in no way by a funeral. Let the living enjoy them…I think I’ll have a beer.

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Comments

  • Little_Minx  On May 2, 2013 at 11:38 PM

    I imagine there’d be a memorial reception at your frat house.

    • umoc193  On May 3, 2013 at 4:01 PM

      Frat lost its chapter and the house was sold in 1976. It still stands. A couple of local bars may be more fitting venues since I probably spent more time in them than in the house anyways.

      • umoc193  On May 3, 2013 at 4:06 PM

        Another lie about the economy which was oft repeated here and elsewhere that most of any job growth the nation experienced came from government jobs.

        “The big story of the recovery that continues to be clear and not subject to small revisions is the rebalancing of the American economy out of public-sector employment and into private-sector production. There are 89,000 fewer people employed by the government than there were one year ago, and almost 2.2 million more people employed in the private sector. Given sequestration, I would expect that trend to continue. Federal agencies will cope with furloughs rather than layoffs, but agencies will be sluggish replacing people who quit or retire in order to conserve budgetary strength. At the state and local level, even as tax revenue rebounds, federal funding streams are collapsing and pension and health costs continue to mean that you get fewer employees per dollar than you used to.”

        http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/05/03/april_employment_situation_report_good_news_all_around.html

      • umoc193  On May 3, 2013 at 4:11 PM

        This award is most deserved. I’ve used Dahlia Lithwick as a reference many times and always find her reports to be insightful.

        http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2013/05/national_magazine_awards_dahlia_lithwick_wins_for.html

  • toadsly  On May 3, 2013 at 8:49 AM

    I couldn’t agree more. Worry about the living.

  • Little_Minx  On May 3, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    Could learned counsel tell us whether ante-mortem plans specified by the deceased (e.g., in writing, and notarized) take legal precedence if one or more of the survivors want something different?

    This situation arose after one of Mr. Minx’s grandfathers died, and a religious zealot daughter-in-law of Grandpa’s boycotted his non-Christian visitation and insisted she would not attend the non-Christian funeral he stipulated either. Not only had Grandpa put his instructions in his own handwriting, but he’d told family members over the years what exactly he wanted as well, so it came as no surprise to anyone. The other close relatives (including Mr. Minx) defended Grandpa’s decision, so it fell to the woman’s husband (Mr. Minx’s uncle) to convince her to attend the heathen service, even though she didn’t get her way and it offended her dogma, I mean faith. Mr. Minx felt kind of sorry for his uncle, especially as his wife permanently ruptured his (the uncle’s) relationship with the rest of the family.

    • Little_Minx  On May 3, 2013 at 12:28 PM

      Clarification: she “insisted she would not attend the non-Christian funeral he stipulated either” because she was demanding that he have a Christian funeral service, in a Christian church. The rest of the family refused to knuckle under to her bullying.

    • umoc193  On May 3, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      Well, I dare say instructions like that have often been ignored. By the time any legal action would be taken the deed is done. It’s not likely an injunction would stop the unwanted service since no irreperable harm could be shown. There may be a case decided to the contrary but I’m not aware of one, at least in the appeals process where the decision would be reported.

      • Little_Minx  On May 3, 2013 at 5:53 PM

        Perhaps the solution is prepaid post-mortem serivce, where the not-yet-deceased has a paid contract for whatever disposal of remains s/he desires, so that the post-mortem serivce company can be a legal party to enforcing the contract.

        • umoc193  On May 4, 2013 at 2:47 PM

          Prepaid plans are available but I don’t know how popular they are or how much they bring down costs.

          Interesting anecdote.

          History Channel has show called “Counting Cars”. This guy in Vegas, nickname Kount, has custom car and bike business. He used to have TV gig as vampire hosting SciFi flicks. So he likes that theme.

          For the anniversary of his business his employees decided to buy a coffin and convert it to a couch. They went to a funeral home to look at the selection, found one they figured would do, and asked the price. The stern funeral director said the price was firm, no negotiating. These guys are used to negotiating for cars they’re buying to flip, customize, and sell so they were surprised but agreed.

          Now all this was being taped so the funeral director couldn’t negotiate with them without regular customers trying to do so. I know occasionally some undertakers may do a favor for a family but to my knowledge their prices always are what’s stated.

          I’m not knocking making profits but from what I’ve seen a lot of this pricing has little relation to cost. Sort of like hospital charges. So they gotcha going AND after you’ve gone.

  • Little_Minx  On May 6, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    Holy cow! Speaking of death, just heard on WV Public Radio that the body of their “All Things Considered” longtime statewide host George Walker was found over the weekend. The two staff announcers who had to make the announcement sounded so choked up that I wondered if they’d make it through their comments. Walker had one of those voice-of-god voices, and was so familiar. Such a shock.

    • umoc193  On May 9, 2013 at 4:58 PM

      I never have become a steady NPR listener. I think he may have appeared on PBS telecasts, too, but the local stations has their own set of hosts so I may not have heard him on TV either.

      • Little_Minx  On May 9, 2013 at 5:35 PM

        He announced from WV PR’s Charleston studios, but I heard him on the Morgantown PR station (90.9), since his “All Things Considered” hosting was carried statewide.

  • toadsly  On May 7, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    Can’t believe this. I loved Mr. Walker’s voice. He will be missed.

  • Little_Minx  On May 9, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    What thinkest learned counsel? “Experts say judge’s ‘shaming’ order for [Justice Joan] Orie Melvin may not be enforceable”:
    http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/experts-say-judges-shaming-order-for-orie-melvin-may-not-be-enforceable-686812
    “Orie Melvin is not going to jail. / Instead, she will remain in her 3,655-square foot home in Marshall, valued on the Allegheny County assessment web site at $555,000” — that’s all, for helping subvert the electoral process and victimize the public? Oh, boo-hoo.

    I agree with the P-G editorial that it’s actually not enough (I’m reluctant to type here what I’m really thinking about them, although the three witches at the opening of the Scottish Play come to mind) — “Creative injustice: A low penalty for high misconduct is a disgrace”:
    http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/editorials/creative-injustice-a-low-penalty-for-high-misconduct-is-a-disgrace-686847

    • umoc193  On May 9, 2013 at 4:55 PM

      I posted two comments on the editorial. One was sarcastic noting she could return to lucrative employment (practically a Constitutional right for convicted politicians) much sooner this way and pay high taxes instead of having taxpayers support her in prison.

      I then replied to another commenter who seemed to have had this same idea, only was serious about it. My statement to him was that the taxpayers seem perfectly willing to keep por dolts in jail for much lesser crimes.

      • Little_Minx  On May 9, 2013 at 5:42 PM

        Well yeah, of course Joan (and her husband) — rather than we hapless Commonwealth taxpayers — would have to foot all her lifestyle bills if she’s under house arrest Chez Melvin. And as you rightly note, she might even turn back into a taxpayer herself (I wonder what sort of employment she could get — maybe blogging for some religious right-wingnut organization?). Let’s just hope Gov. Corbett doesn’t decide to pardon Orie Melvin.

        • umoc193  On May 11, 2013 at 5:55 AM

          Oh Melvin will enjoy a sinecure provided by wealthy backers and she’ll probably have little actual work to do.

          • Little_Minx  On May 11, 2013 at 7:19 AM

            Perhaps the P-G will follow up on this.

  • Little_Minx  On May 9, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Rats, I forgot that WordPress does that when one links to more than one article 😦

  • Little_Minx  On May 9, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    Oh heck, I’ll just chop the post in half so each part posts.

    What thinkest learned counsel? “Experts say judge’s ‘shaming’ order for [Justice Joan] Orie Melvin may not be enforceable”:
    http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/experts-say-judges-shaming-order-for-orie-melvin-may-not-be-enforceable-686812
    “Orie Melvin is not going to jail. / Instead, she will remain in her 3,655-square foot home in Marshall, valued on the Allegheny County assessment web site at $555,000″ — that’s all, for helping subvert the electoral process and victimize the public? Oh, boo-hoo.

    • toadsly  On May 9, 2013 at 7:56 PM

      Martha Stewart went to prison for a (in my opinion) lesser crime.

      • Little_Minx  On May 9, 2013 at 8:37 PM

        Agreed, Toadsly! As the P-G astutely observed, Orie Melvin’s sentence was “not to be mistaken for a slap on the wrist. It was the sound of state taxpayers being slapped in the face.” The judge deemed her arrogance “stunning” and said, “You ruined an awful lot of people […]This was not a single error of judgment.” I wonder if Orie Melvin thought Nixon didn’t do anything wrong during Watergate, either.

      • umoc193  On May 11, 2013 at 5:54 AM

        I first thought that Martha Stewart got what she deserved. BUt now, looking back and seeing what real Wall Street crooks get away with daily, as well as the hefty portfolios of our Congress creatures built on inside information, she got a raw raw deal.

  • Little_Minx  On May 9, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    I agree with the P-G editorial that it’s actually not enough (I’m reluctant to type here what I’m really thinking about them, although the three witches at the opening of the Scottish Play come to mind) — “Creative injustice: A low penalty for high misconduct is a disgrace”:
    http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/editorials/creative-injustice-a-low-penalty-for-high-misconduct-is-a-disgrace-686847

  • Little_Minx  On May 9, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    Oh, this is gonna get right-wingers’ knickers all in a twist — give ’em greater impetus to implement voter suppression legislation.

    “Black Voter Turnout Tops Whites For First Time In 2012”;
    http://www.rttnews.com/2114318/Black-Voter-Turnout-Tops-Whites-For-First-Time-In-2012.aspx?google_editors_picks=true

    “…The Census Bureau said 66.2 percent of eligible blacks voted in the election last November compared to 64.1 percent of eligible non-Hispanic whites…”

  • Little_Minx  On May 11, 2013 at 6:24 PM

    I wonder whether Rand or Ted Cruz will be America’s next Joe McCarthy (ignominiously self-destructing eventually, but not after destroying a lot of good people along the way).

    “Rand Paul: Obama is working with ‘anti-American globalists plot[ting]
    against our Constitution'”:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/11/rand-paul-obama-is-working-with-anti-american-globalists-plotting-against-our-constitution

    Here’s the link to the Snopes page debunking Paul’s claims re the U.N. treaty:
    http://www.snopes.com/politics/guns/untreaty.asp

    • umoc193  On May 12, 2013 at 1:04 AM

      Rand Paul is far more dangerous to the country than Obama could ever hope to be.

      I was already aware of the U.N. treaty and how much lying BS was being circulated about it. bad enough coming from the NRA or right wing kooks, but a U.S. Senator who should know better? SCARY!

      Of course the teabaggers view of the Constitution is pretty distorted anyways. This opinion piece from Salon is a pretty good explication.

      http://www.salon.com/2013/05/11/does_the_tea_party_understand_the_constitution/

      • Little_Minx  On May 12, 2013 at 5:50 AM

        …the irony being that some Tea Partiers carry around a copy of the Constitution and (loudly) proclaim their reverence for it, as if to suggest that they hew more closely to it than does anyone to their political left. Ha!

  • Little_Minx  On May 11, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” Dang, I forgot about not posting two URLs in the same comment. Well, I’ll just split up my message.

    I wonder whether Rand or Ted Cruz will be America’s next Joe McCarthy (ignominiously self-destructing eventually, but not after destroying a lot of good people along the way).

    “Rand Paul: Obama is working with ‘anti-American globalists plot[ting]
    against our Constitution’”:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/11/rand-paul-obama-is-working-with-anti-american-globalists-plotting-against-our-constitution

  • Little_Minx  On May 14, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    Good news,Toadsly!

    “‘Downton Abbey’ to return in early 2014”:
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2013/05/14/downton-abbey-gets-season-4-premiere-date/2158013

    “…Shirley MacLaine, who plays Martha Levinson, will return for Season 4, as will several new actors, including Tom Cullen, Nigel Harman, Dame Harriet Walter, Joanna David, Julian Ovenden, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Gary Carr…”

    I ♥ Harriet Walter and Dame Kiri.

  • Little_Minx  On May 14, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    RIP, Chuck Muncie. Does anyone here remember him from Uniontown?
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/early-lead/wp/2013/05/14/chuck-muncie-former-saints-and-chargers-running-back-dies-at-60

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