Thursday, June 09, 2005

Sudden Death, Sudden Shame

I attended a funeral recently. What can be said about death that hasn't already been said? I noticed some things I'd never read about, though. I noticed how time slowed down drastically and days seemed to drag on unmericifully until the memorial service and the subsequent funeral.

Hers was a young life, abruptly terminated. She was pretty and vivacious - a real party girl. She was outwardly sweet and kindly, and never malicious; but perhaps a little vacuous and self-centered. She had done some things recently (that came out at the time of her death) which made many of us squirm.

I don't believe in speaking anything but the truth, and I don't have that superstitious belief that one shouldn't speak 'ill of the dead'. I think she made some mistakes. And I think that it left her family confused. She was at no fault in her own death. It was a simple accident that killed her instantly and made her passing more merciful, but horribly unexpected.

But a twist came when everyone discovered that she had been working a job that would cause embarassment to many in her family when it was disclosed at the time of her death. And she had just decided to end a marriage to a wonderful guy, so that she could begin openly dating the one she'd been having an affair with for over a year. The family made the mistake of choosing to not disclose this to the pastor, so there he stood; speaking of what a great wife she was, and not mentioning the mourning boyfriend with his entourage of (what appeared to be) female strippers that knelt or sat by his side, supporting him in his time of grief. (I really must add here that his time of grief will apparently be short and fleeting).

Many of those attending were wonderfully supportive of her family during this time; family people who were more friends of her family than of hers. Her true friends drifted outside regularly to smoke a cigarette or stand around in clusters looking more like abandoned children with thickly applied eyeliner, than like young adults.

And I looked at those woeful friends of hers and felt great pity for them. They are part of the new generation of young, aimless adults. Many of the women were emaciated from drug use, many of the men covered in tatoos and multiple piercings, all looking as if they lived only to party and use their bodies in jaded entertainment with no care for tomorrow.

I think too often we encourage our kids to live for themselves, and live for the moment. Because we love them, we overindulge them to the point that they know of no other way. But it leaves children who are selfish and unfulfilled...and unfulfilling. And then, when tragedy strikes, we find ourselves lying to ourselves and lying to our ministers.

I have made some mistakes in my lifetime, and I have seen them as an opportunity to grow and change. I hope that my life will be something that I can be proud of. She never had the opportunity to rectify her mistakes. And I suppose that needs to be a lesson to us all. We never know when 'our page in the Book of Life' will be suddenly bookmarked for all to see. I pray that there will be no one that feels that they have to lie for me at my funeral.


Tabasamu said...

Interesting! I agree with your assessment of today's youth. Thankfully, not ALL are like that.


bananarama said...

I went to something similar once, and it is always sooo awkward. You don't know what to say to everyone! I hated it. I've seen specials on Funerals Gone Bad where families duke it out over the casket. I've never been to one THAT bad!

United We Lay said...

When my husband's parents died, the funeral was awful. It was in Colombia, we could smell the bodies, and all people did was cry and fight, thankfully in Spanish, so I didn't understand all of it. Time did slow down. That week could have been a month.

I'll say it here since I won't say it to Fernando - his father was a horrible man. Speak ill of the dead if they did things worthy of ill-speak. Just because someone had died does not mean they didn't live, and make good and bad decisions. Even more so, isn't it better that we discuss and learn from their mistakes before crashing headlong into our own? On occasion, I have to say to my husband, "You're acting just like Alf." By saying that, he knows that I feel his behavior is unacceptable, and I don't need to clarify. But his dad was a horrible, awful man who beat his wife, molested his children, and never really cared about anyone but himself.

I also agree with your assesment that my generation is one of aimless adults. I'm doing my best to correct it, but some days it nearly kills me.

I love the description of me as a controversial teacher. It beats what others have said.

Saur♥Kraut said...


I understand exactly what you mean. There are some people that weren't fit to live to begin with, and when the funeral comes you're hard-pressed to show any sorrow whatsoever.

I get the feeling you're in your late 20s. So I think you're closer to my age than not (I probably sound a lot older than I am in my writings, then again, maybe not...but I'm in my late 30s) So it's not really your age group, but the ones after you that are concerning me.

Let's face it. My generation wasn't held to a very high standard. And the successive ones seem to have even less of a standard. What's next? Are we becoming a race of burned out, wasted, self-centered, uneducated Americans before we even reach our mid-20s?

It's fine that my children will easily succeed compared to their classmates. But I would like to know that they will not be considered mutants simply because they're intelligent, ambitious, polite, drug-free and educated.

United We Lay said...

I am 27. I don't think your kids will be mutants. There are more people like us than we think.

Saur♥Kraut said...

I surely hope so. You and I could be great friends. My friends come from all different views, religions, and political parties. What we have in common are kind hearts, eager minds, and the desire to enrich each other's lives.

Oh, by the way, did you get my email?

And thanks for including my link in your blog!