Last week my mother’s friend for close to 60 years died. She was in her 80s and from pneumonia. She was in and out of a hospital and nursing home for seven weeks, went back home then back to the hospital. Who ever thought pneumonia could last that long and she did have emphysemia but did not need an oxygen machine prior to the hospitalizations.
So today was the funeral and she did live out of town. We would meet halfway when we met her for lunch. Sad part is they were on the phone just about every evening. Also I make horrible medical predictions the day before she did I told.my mother she would be fine no one fights more then her. She fought with clerks, receptionists, cable folk, her family etc. Of course she would be fine. Less then 24 hours I was wrong.
So we went to the funeral today. I have not entered a Catholic Church since my late grandmother.died in early 2000s. I never forgot that. Totally traumatizing.
I thought of that while at this funeral. Why? At my late grandmother’s funeral we did not know the priest from Adam nor he knew my grandmother was Eve. We knew what he said was canned which is fine.
What got to us particularly and I never forgot was the wheeling down the casket. I was very sick at the time, my mother a mess. I have no idea how many went. I knew about twenty. The Church as I discovered has what I call “funeral voyeurs” those that go to funerals sit never knowing the deceased. To me they were voyeurs invading a private gathering, they were in back rows about 4. We knew her friends and they were not her friends.
The rolling of the casket then placing it in front of the alter. Sorry but that’s ghoulish and traumatizing. My last memory of her is her in a drapped casket.
Today it was deja vu, a.woman I knew all my life, wheeled down the aisle in a drapped casket. Oddly her family trailed her casket. With my late grandmother it was only the paid ushers who did it. No we would have been in zero shape to trail.
Now the friend did know the priest, she went every late Saturday afternoon. So the priest talked about specifics about her.
I was hurtng so much with standing every three minutes then sittng a minute later. I declined to kneel or take communion. Sorry but seeng the priest with bare hands placing the wafer in parisheners hand and you could see the priest’s hand barely touching the others hand I thought “good god he is going to pass germs”.
I dressed in a sweater, shirt under it and jeans. I noticed over half the men wore matching suitcoat and pants. No clue on clothing etiquette. My mother essentially laid out my clothes minus the shirt, she said “wear those jeans you like and a long sweater in case you need to bend.”. Other men wore more casual clothing. I suspect the guy in back row.may have been a “funeral voyeur”, I could be wrong. . The rest were in first 40 percent of the rows.
I would rather have my memories of the friend with me picking up the phone passing pleasentries before I yelled “mom, phone its ...”. Or meeting her for lunch and both of us wanting to shrivel up because she once again complained to the waitress or returned food for sake of returning it. Those are last memories I want not her draped casket rolling down an aisle.
So yes I find it more traumatic then good.