My feelings on funerals.

A funeral procession drove by as I walked back from the post office the other day.

An elegant, dove-gray hearse led the way, followed by thirty or forty cars with their hazard lights flashing.

The other cars on the road all yielded as the group passed. Pedestrians stopped and watched.

The motorcade crawled down the street, around the park and off to the cemetery before activity started up again.

There was something stately about the whole thing. It was regal, despite the Subarus, Toyotas and Fords with their blinking red lights.

The solemn parade seemed like a wonderful way to celebrate someone’s passing on a cloudy November day,

I don’t believe in funerals, in general.

Maybe that’s because I’ve rarely been to a funeral that actually meant anything.

My family is not religious so we didn’t have a priest or minister to preside over my grandmother’s service.

The pastor we hired was nice enough and had a beautiful speaking voice, but his words were based on brief conversations with family members and rang false.

I attended a funeral mass for an Episcopalian minister I had worked with in the theater and, while I appreciated the pomp and circumstance as the spectacle it was, the mass wasn’t personal in any way.

A teenage cousin died when I was in the seventh or eighth grade and I was traumatized by her Jehovah’s Witness funeral, where a church elder preached that her soul was doomed to float around in space until the world was entirely free of sin.

Another cousin lost her year old baby and at the funeral the attendees were forced to stare at the little girl in her open pink coffin while Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” blared in surround sound.

I was not comforted by these or any other funeral, memorial service or “celebration of life.”

Perhaps it’s because I’m rarely reassured the presence of other people or that I think that grief is a lonely experience at its essence and to pretend otherwise is futile, but I don’t understand the point of such events.

I like the funeral procession though.

Like life, it’s a journey.

And people aren’t forced into a group experience. You’re isolated in your car where you can cry, swear or smile and there’s no one to judge you.

Yeah, funeral processions seem a fitting way to mark the end of a life.

It’s too bad you can’t have them without funerals.


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