I was reminded recently that there really isn’t a convenient time for death. When you think about it though, there really isn’t a convenient time for anything that doesn’t occur on a daily or weekly schedule. Even those things that are on the scale of monthly and yearly are inconvenient. Let’s look at a few things:
|Brake Job||Not convenient|
|Dental Crown||Not convenient|
|Trip to grocery store||Convenient|
|Sunday lunch with mom||Convenient|
|Cremating dad||Not convenient|
Is there anything that I can do as a funeral home owner to make this situation more convenient? No. Not really. Let’s face it – death sucks. Even when it comes as a relief after a protracted illness and the person has “gone to someplace better” there isn’t anything about the arrangements to handle the remains of a loved one that is going to parallel the ease and speed of picking up that McGriddle in the drive through when you are just too lazy to get out of the car. This notion of death getting in the way of our life has some strange repercussions.
The upshot of being hassled by a loss makes me wonder: when did the inconvenience of death move us to completely discard the etiquette of death? I recognize that there isn’t a perfect cause-effect here, but I think they are tied together. We’ve lost our way in evaluating the gravity of the moment. I’m not suggesting that we return to the days of old where the small town shut down for the day and everyone spent the afternoon on a stroll behind the horse drawn carriage to the cemetery and then retire for the evening for some nasty casserole thrown together at the church. What I am suggesting is that we need to slow down for a couple of minutes and look at the loss of someone in our community as an event worthy of reflection. When I say “our community” I mean any group, tribe, circle or relationship set that you are connected to. It could be work associates; it could be family, friends, or neighborhood acquaintances.
What does it look like to discard funeral etiquette?
It looks like people bitching and complaining. Like when a son or daughter of the deceased complains that they need things wrapped up “immediately” because they have things to do. Seriously? You have something more important than taking care of the mortal remains of the people that gave birth to you?
It takes the form of people that can’t be bothered to show up to a funeral or memorial service on time. You honestly couldn’t allow yourself the appropriate amount of time to get to a service in the middle of the day?
It looks like people that show up to “pay their respects” in outfits that look like they are trying to turn a trick or sell crack on the corner. A leather mini-skirt and stiletto heels are your most appropriate funeral attire? Alright.
We should take a moment to look at what death means to us. Death is a natural and significant change in our lives; an event that should give us pause to reflect on what and who we have in our life. Because it happens so infrequently means that it is inherently inconvenient. And it should be. Convenience isn’t a feature of the important things in our lives. Take a minute to be inconvenienced the next time your neighbor’s family member dies. It will be worth your time to reflect on the fact that you still have your health and those that you love around you. And if you’re appropriately inconvenienced, you will also have more time to evaluate the goofy outfits that people wear to the funeral.