A funeral in all cultures past and present is an act of remembering, sanctifying or celebrating the desceased. Some cultures do not mourn, they see the act of death upon their loved ones as a joyous occasion that has followed a long and rightous life. Other cultures mourn for weeks and month as they see the death as a cruel act that has taken a loved one from their lives, and this mourning is commonly accompanied by a fear or an uncertainty of death.
In our culture (UK) we either attend a religious bulding or we attend a crematorium alone. Either way, there is a service where the desceased's friends and family gather, usually wearing all black, the listen to stories from that persons life and the people the left behind. The cermony will also include either religious readings or a more humaitrian approach, where the person taking the service offers words of consolidation in either form.
Following this service, the act of burial or cremation takes place. The congregation moves to either the burial plot or crematorium for the fianl goodbyes. A few words are said and the final act is often marked by the placing of flowers. They are almost like the final goodbye if you wish, even though those placing them are fully aware they will be left out in the open for all to see, upon wherever the body has rested. I feel like this final part is the most important. It provides closure, an acceptance, even just an understanding that this is the final time you will be with this person.
The reason for this horribly dismal post is that I attended a funeral on Thursday past. It was my grandmother's last surviving of 9 siblings. It was a sad time because they had fallen out in recent years after the death of his first wife and meeting another lady. I am not going to pass judgement upon either of their actions, as I have respect for the dead and am fully aware this is in the public domain.
My grandmother wasn't told immediately of his death, neither were his children or anyone close to him. His partner arranged the funeral herself and only told a few people days before it was going to take place where it was. She also told his son she wasn't having funeral cars and that he had to make his own way to the crematorium. Of course, as expected, she turned up in an arrange 'funeral car'.
We waited outside the crematorium as my grandmother wanted to see his coffin arrive and follow it inside. This is the most upsetting and surprising part... we spend more time outside with the coffin that we did in. We knew his partner is probably a money grabber and didn't expect anything with bells and whistles. The entire service lasted 5 minutes. 5 whole fucking minutes.
The whole point of a service is to celebrate, remember and sanctify someones life after their passing. My heart sank as it came to an end and I looked at my grandmother. She looked at me. We said nothing, just shrugged our sholders in disbelief. This was her brother that we were saying goodbye to. Someone who had been in her life for the past 76 years, longer than anyone she had ever known and she didn't even get a mention.
It sickened and upset me. I felt like I didn't have any closure and I can't even begin to imagine how she must have felt. I feel like I should go back, like I'm being pulled back to go and say goodbye in my own time because I sure as hell wasn't given the time to then.
I don't know when I will, but if I do, I will take my grandmother with me and we can say goodbye together, properly.