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About Funerals

May 4, 2012

When my last blood relative died 2 years ago I vowed never to attend another funeral.

I can’t say for sure if I actually honored the vow or if no one I cared about enough to attend their funeral died in the last 2 years.

Then out of nowhere, like from where everything comes, 2 funerals within 2 months appeared on my docket.

I had to re-evaluate my vow.

I decided it was a stupid selfish vow, at least for me, and I’ll tell you why.

My decision to never attend a funeral again was born from a childish mindset to get back at death in some way. As if death’s feelings would be hurt if I didn’t go to the funeral death made necessary – As if, if I didn’t go, the dead person would not really be dead in some juvenile way.

Two months ago a sweet lady, aunt to a dear friend, who I affectionately called my aunt too, died.

When I got the news I instantly knew what I knew all along but was pretending I didn’t know: Funerals are not for death. Death doesn’t give a sh*t. Funerals are for the living.

Believe whatever you believe about Karma, Reincarnation, Christ or how lovely Heaven is – seeing your cold dead loved one laid out hurts like a son-of-a-bitch! Seeing your friends there to support you through that hurt even if the only support they can give is an awkward smile or a crumpled tissue from the bottom of their purse, that smells like tobacco – that support makes the hurt a scoach less painful.

Last month a savory gentleman, uncle to another dear friend, who I affectionately called my uncle too, died.

No one expected me to go to the funeral. They all knew Rouge doesn’t go to funerals. When I arrived early and stayed until the end it kind of was a little like getting back at death. While there along with the loss, there was also love and friendship and even a perfect joke that only I would have told.

You know how whenever someone dies even if they were a complete hum-dinger, at the funeral, people will wax on about what a jolly good fellow he was?

It’s respectful, but dishonest…any hoo, this uncle was a swell guy hands down but he did have a debilitating affection for the…shall we say, “brown liquor”. So dig this, as the obituary was being read it listed all the surviving family and next to last left to mourn, was a cousin, Johnnie Walker.

You know I couldn’t resist. I wrote on the back of a business card: Ok, so is this Johnnie Walker a real cousin? Then I folded it in half and passed it up to the grieving niece on the front row. Her smile lit up the entire room when she read it. She stopped crying, tickled by the irony she didn’t see until just that moment. Johnnie Walker was a real cousin. No mention if he was a Native American cousin or an African-American cousin…I mean if he was red or black (Hee He)…couldn’t resist again!

Just go to the funeral. You might get a laugh. You might not, but funerals are not about death, they are always about life.

This post was inspired by recent events and by Deirdre Sullivan’s essay, Always go to the Funeral, which can be heard read in her own voice at This I (if you browse by themes you will find it under death from the link above).

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