To funeral, or not to funeral

My brother Dick is probably the next in my family to die. How soon? It'll be a while, nothing is imminent, and the doctors have no estimate, but with the litany of things going wrong with him one after the next, it's hard to think in terms of 'years'. 

We've never been close, but I'm not close with anyone. Actually, Dick gets on my nerves. I don't see him very often, even now that we live only thirty miles from each other.

We text a lot, though, and I enjoy those conversations with good old Dick. I want to continue hearing his bad puns, and stories of playing his trombone and being a Republican, believing in God but also making an occasional dirty joke.

When he's not there any more, his death will be bad enough. Worse, will be his funeral. Cripes, I hate funerals. Everyone wears black and someone plays an organ and someone else sings a song. The stories told about the dead are often lies, you have to pretend to like people you don't, and people you don't know or can't stand want a hug and then they don't want to let go. Everything is religious and fake, and it's in a church, or at a funeral parlor selling $16,000 caskets. Death is awful, and funerals only make death even worse.

Often I've announced to family that I'm never going to another funeral, but luck has made that easy. When my father died, I was a long ways away, out of touch, and didn't even know he was dead until much later. When my brother Ralph died, I knew about it right away, but I was poor and several states distant — a great excuse not to come. Same with Grandma's funeral, and my other grandma's funeral.

When Dick dies, it'll be the first death in the immediate family while I'm around and in touch. There'll be a funeral, and will I be there?

I would much, much, a thousand times much rather that friends and family gather at a restaurant or in someone's living room and spend an afternoon talking about Dick and his life. I'd be there for that.

But I'm the lowest-ranking member of the family. If I suggest a restaurant instead of a church or a frickin' funeral parlor, I'd be the only one accepting my invitation. Realistically, either I go to a bullshit funeral, or say no and mourn alone, and get rebuked for my absence until I'm dead and the bullshit funeral is my own.

Weirdest aspect of all this is, I'm more bothered by maybe having to endure Dick's funeral, than by his soon-to-be death.

Analyzing that feeling, I think it's this: Dick's going to die regardless of anything I say or do, so while it saddens me, it's not on my shoulders and I have no say in the matter.

Going to his damned funeral, though, or not going — that'll be my choice. 

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of another outrageous funeral, or to stay home and remember my brother better from a few miles away? That is the question.

No answers today, though, luckily, since he's not dead.



  1. I would be surprised if you attend Dick's funeral. But I would never, ever judge you for it.

    My dad died in January, and as I mentioned in texts, that fucking ordeal cost my mom almost ten grand.

    1. Death is a racket same as life, and again my condolences on your father, my man.

      I would also be surprised if I attended. Probably I won't, but I'm surprised to even be thinking about it.

  2. I think about this issue as I live in a small town and when someone notable dies I never go, although i did go when my actual close friend died, maybe I'll share my recent thoughts about this here:
    Nancy’s Memorial: A letter to her daughter
    I get it, I rarely go to memorial events, it’s just too much: all the people, the emotions. No one needs to make excuses, it they really wanted to be there they would. When I asked people if they were going to Bob McKee’s memorial they all had their bullshit excuses, ie, the other events they were already planning to go to, etc, like somehow they had to justify why they weren’t making it. I just told the truth why I wasn’t going: I’m lazy, self-centered, and don’t like crowds. I’m also an emotional midget I suppose, just can’t handle the feelings, and if I were really a mature caring adult I’d find it within myself to attend some of these events, but alas…
    When I asked people who went no one said anything about Bob, it was all about the people they had seen and talked with. I may sound judgmental but maybe that’s what it’s really about, an opportunity to connect with our aging peers, for some or many it could be the last time?
    Nancy’s event is a special case in that though she was your mother we also felt that she was ours, not our mother but our person, neighbor, positive energy presence, and community leader. Though it’s easier for us to move on than her actual children, and we all do move on as we’re caught up in our own lives.
    I know why you’re not going, like me, it’s just too much. I didn’t go to my mother’s funeral either, though I did Zoom in with my eulogy, I just didn’t want to disrupt my life to travel across the country to Vermont, and neither did my sister.
    Even toward the end of Bob’s party I thought,” I could still make it for the music!” And maybe I’ll think the same on Nancy’s day, after all it’s just two miles away. Eel

    1. Nicely captured, sir.

      We all know we're supposed to go, but we all also know it'll be boring, disappointing, and being almost anyplace else would be better. And yet, even if you don't go you second-guess not going so much you might as well have gone.

  3. I frickin' love this, Arden. You hear about people planning their own funeral, but your buddy planned his funeral to be annoying. "And now, here's the dear departed's recorded rendition of a song you might like if someone else was singing it."

    Bee yoo t full.

    My condolences, but also my giggles.


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