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Funeral frustrations October 11, 2016

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Events, Rants.
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Most of the time, I can arrange my life so I don’t have to have much contact with religion.  Sure I sing with a chorus that sings music with religious texts, but I can appreciate the artistic quality, and try to ignore the words as much as possible.  But other than that, I’ve managed to exclude the religious practices and expectations of others pretty well from my day-to-day existence.

Except.

Earlier this month, a good friend from my chorus died in a pointless accident.  You know how, in most organizations, 10% of the people do 90% of the work?  He was one of those 10% and then some.  He was a stalwart member of the chorus, not only singing, but taking on more responsibilities than anybody else, and holding a really important position in the organization.  He always went above and beyond, was always positive and cheerful, and I will miss him terribly.

The funeral is Friday.

It’s Methodist.  His wife is the pastor.

AAARGH.  I’m already hearing the religious platitudes about “He’s looking down at us” and such being thrown about.  Going to listen to an extended session of “he’s in a better place” and “god has a plan” and all the other religious tripe that people say is not how I want to be spending an afternoon.  That’s not how I cope with loss.  Instead of grieving, at the funeral I would be trying to keep my mouth shut, and finding a way not to be rude or roll my eyes when the crowd around me is playing their pretendy-game that he’s in heaven and they will see him again.  My friend is gone, really gone, when he should have had at least another twenty years ahead  of him.  This completely sucks.  They get to be honest, but I don’t, because if I say what I really think I’ll offend someone, and a funeral is not the appropriate time to be doing that.  If I go I have to be fake and polite.  Sheesh.

There’s no point in my going for my own benefit.  There’s no point in my going for my friend’s benefit, he’s dead and so has no opinion on this.  There’s no point in my going for his family’s benefit, because I don’t know them and they don’t know me.

But-

As someone who has also held major positions in the chorus in the past, there’s an expectation that I’ll be there.  The director, the other past and present officers, and the chorus members are expecting me to be there.  It’s part of the solidarity needed to keep the chorus functioning through this.  I don’t need to be there for me, but they need me to be there for them, so I can’t not go.

The chorus has been invited to sing.  If I go, I can’t not sing.

So there I’ll be, the atheist in the choir loft.   Crap.

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Comments»

1. mechanicdude - October 12, 2016

Ubi= Sorry for the loss of your friend. After my sons death my wife and I decided not to have a funeral at all because of all the very reasons you mentioned. I would have thrown out “anyone” putting some christian voodoo spell on him and it would have been a disaster. The uproar and condemnation was overwhelming. We have never regretted our decision. No regrets =MD

Liked by 3 people

Ubi Dubium - October 12, 2016

Sorry for the loss of your son. I’m with you on the not having a funeral part.

I might consider having some kind of gathering for family and friends, but with NO pastors or religious content of any kind. I think a party with all the favorite activities of the person who died would be a much better tribute.

Liked by 1 person

2. Godless Cranium - October 12, 2016

Sorry for your loss.

It’s a tough situation. It’s happened to me a few times and I always feel super uncomfortable in the church. It feels like I have a thousand eyes on me when I don’t bow my head or mumble the prayers.

I think it’s great of you to honor your choir even though it will be uncomfortable.

Again, sorry for your loss.

Liked by 1 person

Ubi Dubium - October 12, 2016

Thanks. I’m going to try to be somewhat inconspicuous, but I can’t go as far as bowing my head or mumbling along with the prayers. I’ll sing along with the hymns, and stand and sit as requested, and try not to look as uncomfortable as I’ll feel.

At least it’s not an evangelical church, the Methodists should be pretty tame. But I even feel out of place at Unitarian services now!

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Godless Cranium - October 12, 2016

Exactly. I can’t bring myself to do those things either. It seems like a betrayal against myself and like I’m lying to everone else. I just can’t do it.

I also have a hard time not laughing. I recently went to a Catholic funeral service and when the priest began sing song chanting and waving around incense, I almost broke out in laughter. Here’s a grown man chant singing and everyone is sitting solemnly like it’s not ridiculous.

Liked by 1 person

Ubi Dubium - October 12, 2016

If I didn’t have to sing, I could just sit in the back and slip out when things got too silly. As long as I slipped back in before the end so I could exit with the crowd, it would be fine. Not this time.

The best funeral I ever went to was a reform Jewish funeral. The service was a few songs and a lot of stories about the deceased. Then we went to the cemetery for the burial, and took turns shoveling dirt onto the coffin. Not just a little symbolic sprinkle, but really having at it with shovels, filling in the grave. They described it as doing a last good deed for the deceased, because you were doing something for them that they were unable to do themselves. It was a much better way of saying goodbye, very cathartic.

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3. makagutu - October 12, 2016

Sorry for your loss Ubi.

Liked by 1 person

4. Steve Morris - October 12, 2016

Sorry to hear your news. I have found myself in similar situations. While it may seem unfair that others get to mourn at the funeral and you can’t, I think we owe it to those others not to detract from whatever comfort they gain from such events. Participating and singing is a brave choice, and the right choice.

Liked by 1 person

5. ... Zoe ~ - October 12, 2016

Sorry Ubi. (((hugs)))

Liked by 1 person

6. Juana Mann - October 12, 2016

I am very sorry for your loss, this man sounded like a good person. As far as the service goes, remember its about the deceased and what mattered to them. It’s not about you, and your personal beliefs. This is what they wanted, and you show respect for your friend by attending, and singing. You are not required to believe what is being said, but this isn’t a time to tell others how to mourn, or to show disrespect by not attending (unless serious illness, I would be there). Sometimes just being polite is the right thing to do, out of respect for your friend and their family, if nothing else.Just watch out for the eye-rolling – that won’t go over well.

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Ubi Dubium - October 12, 2016

It’s not actually about him, he won’t be there, or be aware of what’s going on. It’s about those of us left behind, and how we cope with losing him. It’s for them that I have to go and pretend. At least the music will be glorious.

It just sucks that there’s this expectation that religious people get to publicly grieve in their religious way, but those of us who aren’t religious just have to smile and nod and pretend to participate.

If somebody says to me “Don’t be too sad, we’ll see him again in heaven” that’s not rude. If I were to say to somebody “This really hurts because he’s really gone and I’ll never see him again.” that’s considered rude and confrontational. It’s a double standard we’re stuck with, and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

Liked by 2 people

Juana Mann - October 13, 2016

Well, it is still about your friend, even if he isn’t there, because its about respecting and honoring his memory, its the last chance you really have to do that with others. To honor that memory is for his family and friends, and you are considered a part of that group. Perhaps in his last will he may have left instructions about his funeral – in that case you are respecting his wishes after he is gone, you aren’t being asked to convert. In a religious setting, yes, sometimes those who attend a service who are not part of that religion are bystanders and not direct participants. If I go to a Catholic wedding, I know there will be rituals that I don’t participate in. I am not pretending anything – It’s their thing, I just don’t make it a big deal to me. I came, I supported them, I move on. I think of it like a big field trip to a strange world with strange customs that are not my own. I am only visiting, not moving in.

To me – Trump is offensive – weddings and funerals are not offensive – they just may be conducted in a way that I wouldn’t choose if I could organize the celebration or mourning. I celebrate a wedding or mourn a loss in my heart, and I don’t have to let dogma bother me, run screaming “my eyes, my eyes” as I race out of a church or temple. That is just acting childish in an adult situation. If someone believes in heaven, let them – that is their business. You aren’t there to tell people heaven doesn’t exist -it really doesn’t go over well at funerals – you just believe what you believe, If someone says “you will see them again in heaven” – just walk away – those words comfort those who say them, even if they mean well, and let them live in their delusion, if that is how you see it. Your non belief is your right, your choice, but you can handle the religious aspect of the the situation gracefully and keep your beliefs in tact.

Sometimes supporting other people and the memory of one who has passed is more important than your need to not be in any religious setting. You have an aversion to religion, but its not an allergy, you can survive an afternoon. You can mourn – you can say “I will never see him again” and if they respond with something pithy and trite, ignore it. There are far bigger worries in the world, don’t you think?

How do you handle your own family funerals, – what if someone wants to include something religious? Do you not attend those? Do you tell them you are offended, and if so, how does that go over? What do you want to happen when you die – so that the mourning is handled in a way you see to be real and not pretending?

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Ubi Dubium - October 13, 2016

Now just a minute here. Stop putting words in my mouth. Have I said that it was “offensive” or told anybody that they were offending me with their religion? Have I “run screaming” out of someone else’s ceremony? That’s coming from you, not me. No, I’ve sucked it up, gone to what I needed to go to, been polite, and only vented my internal annoyance here on my own private and mostly anonymous blog. For a relative, sometimes you don’t seem to know me all that well.

For my own funeral, I won’t be there, so it’s really not my call, is it?

Liked by 1 person

Violet - October 15, 2016

JM, you have a very interesting take on things. I’m a deconvert with an extremely religious family. If one of them died, I would be forbidden from attending their funerals because my existence as an atheist offends THEM. If I died, they would not attend my funeral because again, I offend THEM simply by breathing (they consider atheists the instruments of the devil). You seem to have this idea that atheists are the ones going out of their way to offend religious folks at a funeral, and I just don’t understand this.

You also seem completely impervious to the psychological trauma some of us have been through when we lost our faith. Inserting yourself back into religious rituals after this trauma is no easy task, and can be extremely mentally taxing.

The man is dead, and Ubi doesn’t know his family. I tend to think Ubi should honor him in her own, private way and forgo this funeral, but this is up to Ubi.

Liked by 2 people

7. Nan - October 12, 2016

Is there any way you could just attend the grave site burial service?

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Ubi Dubium - October 12, 2016

Nope. Won’t be going to that anyway. It’s the choral participation part that I need to show up for, that’s the one people will notice if I skip.

On the bright side, the piece of music we are performing is really good. It’s this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1E9uJVF5Z4U

Liked by 1 person

8. cag - October 13, 2016

It gave me a sense of calm at my brother’s funeral having my real thoughts with me even if they were not uttered.

This is a repeat posting, first offered in 2012. Please feel free to make appropriate changes and print it off for personal use.

I would like to correct some misconceptions about my brother. The presumptuous pompous ass in the dog collar who somehow slipped off the leash has made some rather scurrilous remarks in regard to my brother, who is unable to demand a retraction. This demented individual, full of righteous ignorance and superstitious beliefs, beliefs that would be amusing in a 3 year old but is highly inappropriate in an adult, makes unsupported pronouncements about my dead brother. You, sir, have uttered the most vile and inhumane comments about my brother, you have called him a christian. I can think of no insult more detestable than to call someone a christian.

To be a christian involves belief in a so-called “holey” book, a book that claims that the earth is the centre of the universe (“In the beginning god made the heaven and the earth”) and that the sun and everything that makes up the solar system and all the stars planets and debris in the rest of the universe are fixed in some “firmament”. The same book that claims that one can see the 4 corners of the world (Rev. 7;1) and has detailed instructions on how to treat slaves, proscribes death for working on the Sabbath, death to unruly children, death to non-virgin brides and a number of other “infractions”. The same book that demands that women be quiet in the church.

I have been known to compare religious leaders with snake oil salesmen. I wish to correct that scurrilous assertion forthwith. Snake oil salesmen, please forgive me for comparing you to clergy. You only defraud an individual once, twice at most. The clergy’s aim is to defraud individuals every week for the rest of their lives. You sell an actual product, it may be that the product is totally useless, but it is still a product. The church sells an unfulfillable promise with no way to collect or get a refund. The price per gram of vacuum that the church sells is infinite. You at least have the decency to get out of town while the clergy live in various levels of comfort. Many clergy live much better lives than those who they delude.

We do not need moral guidance from a book that instructs us how hard we can beat our slaves before it becomes an offence. We do not need moral guidance from any one who gets their moral guidance from a book that has a god who commands that all Amalekites, including children (1 Samuel 15:3) and their animals be put to death. We do not need moral guidance from a book that proscribes death as the penalty for working on the sabbath (Exodus 35:2), or anyone who believes such a patently erroneous book offers guidance for a good life. A book that demands death for a rape victim if she does not scream loud enough (Deut . 22:23-24) is not worthy of respect. Anyone using such a vile book to control the lives of others is worthy of gross contempt. You should hang your head in shame.

Preacher man on the TV
And his message is not wise,
For his oleaginous visage
Is a cover for the lies.
Preacher man very sleazy
And the book he reads from is lies,
But the truth of the matter
He is in it for the tithe.
Preacher man in his pulpit
And his words are full of spite
For his pay is increased
By the absurdity of his lies.
Preacher man visits parishioners
To look them in their eyes
For the lies that he utters
Are a money making device.
Preacher man at the altar
And the altar boys are nice
But after their “instruction”
They’ll look behind them more than twice.
Preacher man in the courtroom
And his freedom is on ice
For his child rearing ways
Will incarcerate him for life.
Preacher man in the jail house
And now he is thinking twice
That his many prevarications
Confused thousands of lives.

Liked by 2 people

9. Quixie - October 21, 2016

That’s weird. Your posts are showing up out of order in my reader. This post just now showed up!

Liked by 1 person

Ubi Dubium - October 21, 2016

Odd. I know sometimes I get comment notifications in my email really late, so some of that system is wonky. I guess the reader is too.

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