Monday, May 02, 2011

Funerals

My funeral plans are really always in some stage of being planned and replanned. As much as I mentally redesign most rooms I walk into, I replan my funeral when I attend other people's, or run into a new hymn or something. In terms of my profession, on the whole I prefer funerals to, say, weddings. People generally have very fixed ideas at weddings and if one thing goes wrong EVERYthing might as well go wrong. Whereas at a funeral, people are grateful for the liturgy, rather than always trying to change it, and ready to attend to and hear the Word of God.

I generalize, of course.

So it was interesting to see how much attention, today, was paid to the manner and occasion of Ussama bin Laden's burial at sea. He was buried, shouted every possible news outlet, in the manner prescribed by Islam, in the 24 hour period after death, body washed and wrapped in a white cloth.

Among some of the many evils of Islam, the flattening out and wrecking of funeral ceremonies remains one of the highest. Getting the body in the ground in under 24 hours, and then, as far as I can remember, sitting around doing nothing--no party, no dancing, no music, just sitting--is boring and horrible. Where I grew up, your funeral is the biggest party of your life (if you're a reasonable age at death). Everyone who can come does come. The party lasts for many days. The food is amazing. The music is fabulous. The body is danced and danced to the grave site. But if you are so unfortunate as to convert to Islam before you die, and request and require a Muslim burial, all that goes away and your family gets to sit around for long long hours not having a party.

Which is really fitting for the death of a man so few of us mourn.
Which is its own great tragedy.
I hope at my funeral nobody will be able to stop weeping, and will only be able to console themselves with Nigella's Fish Pie, Cream Sherry, and Cake.

2 comments:

Jessica said...

Right on.

Anonymous said...

I hope everything's ok with you and the family. I miss reading your posts. CT layperson