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Memoirs

Funerals are Weird

Maybe no one has dared to utter those words, at least in print or publicly, but there they are.  Don’t you agree?  Here in the U.S., we have certain customs we follow when someone dies.  I’m sure they all, like Christmas traditions, have their origins and seem reasonable to most, but nowadays you have to wonder.  Should the usual traditions and customs be followed during a pandemic?

Because they’re not.  Many are not holding traditional funerals; many are holding memorial services, and many times the service is held weeks or even months after the death.  Fewer people are attending funeral services these days, for fear of catching or spreading the coronavirus, and those who do attend wear masks.

My father-in-law recently passed away, and my mother-in-law honored his wishes by having him cremated, but she decided at the last minute to donate his body to science, in hopes that research into dementia like his could help someone in the future.  An honorable and noble decision, in my opinion.  She filled out the proper paperwork, the university picked up the remains, and ashes may be returned to her when the work at the university medical school is complete.  

So there was no need for a casket, no need for viewing, no need for graveside service, no need for interment.   Most of the immediate family attended the simple memorial service with a handful of friends and relatives, and there were two speakers and a couple of songs, and the service was over.

Family received the guests and then convened at my mother-in-law’s home where we visited for awhile and then left.  It was odd.  No food was brought to the house, no food was served after the service, and no flowers were delivered.

Still, I believe my father-in-law was honored, and my mother-in-law was provided closure after months and months of caregiving.  This pared-down version of a funeral seemed to make more sense to me.  Maybe the traditions of visitation, viewing the body in a casket, and going to the cemetery help to provide closure for many, but this simple memorial service was a good substitute.  

Goodbye, Jerry. We love you. May you rest in peace with God.


Have you attended a funeral or memorial service during the pandemic?  Please share your experience.  I would love to hear about it.

XOXO

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Teacher Tuesday: Worth Remembering (FOLK Magazine Journal Challenge)

Today marks the beginning of the Jewish Passover, and FOLK Magazine’s 2013 Journal Challenge urges us to reflect on the importance of remembering.  It has been said that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.  Remembering past mistakes and making corrections is critical for eventual success.

But what about remembering family and/or religious traditions?  Are those important?  The Jewish and Christian faiths place great importance on remembrance of religious traditions.  The Passover itself was instituted by God as an annual remembrance of His deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage.  So is it important to remember family or religious traditions?

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I say, yes, very much so.  Just as the Christian church observes traditions such as the Lord’s Supper, baptism, singing familiar hymns, and having Sunday School classes, families observe certain traditions as well.  What would Christmas and Thanksgiving be without traditions?  How many families do we know who put up a Christmas tree every year or have a turkey dinner every Thanksgiving?

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Are these traditions important?  I believe they are very important, especially to children.  They provide security–a constant in an unpredictable world.  They provide connections to previous generations, and opportunities to spend time with people we would ordinarily not take the time to visit.  We often do not even realize that we are creating traditions with our families when we really are.  

I started a simple tradition in my home to help celebrate our birthdays.  One year I bought a cheap foil banner with the words “Happy Birthday” and placed it across the top of our entertainment center over the television.  I had gotten into the habit of placing birthday cards received on the top of the entertainment center and thought a banner would be a good way to show them off.  I have done this every year for each birthday since the children were small.  One year I couldn’t find the banner, and my daughter asked where it was.  I dug a little deeper in the drawer where I keep it, and there it was, so up it went.  Traditions do matter.  Our children count on them.
Image from here
What traditions do you feel are important?

XOXO