I'm at the age when I have to start going to funerals at an alarming rate.

When it comes to my friends, who were all non-theist, that is not a problem - they chose a neutral ceremony - but aunts, uncles and old neigbors are dying off fast, and some of them were Christians.

I feel not attending their funerals would be disrespectful, but singing psalms and pretending I'm praying makes me feel really bad! Almost as bad as if I hadn't turned up at all..

Your 2 cents on this?

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That's right: Sometimes the Kool-Aid is just Kool-Aid...
Bearcat,

I think you and I agree on all of this in every meaningful way. Others will have their own point of view, of course, and that's fine. This discussion will help me when it comes to my parents' funerals, assuming they dont just fade away without leaving any remains. I've thought that this would be "any minute now" for 2 or 3 years, so there has been lots of time to consider the issues and still I'm not certain.

As to the pallbearer question, I didn't think about this before. I guess, if the many trips I've made to his home and town, the agonizing decisions I've had to make on his part, the difficult discussions with his doctors and with him, where I was left thinking what is "right" and what is "best" and what "he wants" when he can't express it, the many thousands of dollars spent in his care, not telling him so he wouldn't think I was 'sacrificing' anything, the discomfort of many airport trips (which I hate) and plane rides (which I hate), and being in his town (which is a backward, overbearing, intolerant, self-rightious place that I hate), all don't mean respect, the pallbearer thing probably won't either. Plus, my back is not that good any more. Plus, if that's the respectful thing, why not go all out, and help with the embalming, body preparation, and digging the grave? I don't get it. I truly love my dad, and my mom, but singing at their funerals seems more like playacting, and playacting, seems like disrespect, not respect.

For someone whose family had more liberal beleifs, such that the hymns were just going through the motions, singing "Nearer my god to thee" like "rudolf the red nosed reindeer", really might be the respectful thing. I actually envy that. So it's different for each of us. Coming from fundamentalist/evangelical background, and making the really hard choices in how to be honest with them about things that they truly feel strongly about, it seems different.

Each of us has our own lives, I won't begrudge other people their decisions and beleifs. This discussion has helped me, significantly, with mine. No coffin carrying, and no prayers or hymns for me. Also no grave digging (unless it's in a prairie with no coffin and no tombstone, and no embalming fluid, which is what I would want for me), and I won't help with the embalming, no matter how nurturing that seems to others.


Thanks for expressing your thoughts, it helped with mine.
Think about the other attendees who sing and pray just b/c the person to their right is doing it. People tend to follow what the majority does to prevent being singled out. Whether you petend or remain silent, you probably won't be the only one.
Your religous family members will probably be too wrapped up in their emotions to notice if you are mourning the same way they are. And if they do, well, tell 'em everyone deals with death differently.
Oh, I would never pretend to pray. I don't have a problem with singing, though.
Having essentially recently gone to my own mother's christian funeral, I can relate to this question. I think the important thing is, just to go, and say your good-byes in your own way. It's important to do that, it helps in your own closure and recovery.
I'm in the same boat.

I've lost 5 blood relatives in the last 5 years (Dad,2 aunts,an uncle and a cousin with Downe Syndrome). Plus there seem to be an aweful lot of weddings and baptisms over the last couple of years.

My family extended family is hard core Irish Catholic. I'm simply expected to attend rites of passage. Was a time I stood at back of the Church sneering at the priest.Today I sit and fall asleep,usually,I'm told, snoring loudly.

I always attend the post ceremony craic, to have a nice cuppa tea and a corned beef and pickle relish sandwich,and perhaps a fairy cake. I try to slip away before first blood.
"Where one of my greatnieces tripped over a puppy leash and smashed her little face in, broke her nose. I was just as glad I missed it all."


In my dysfunctional family ,that would be seen as comic relief.

Our functions begin with people getting oiled and assassinating the character of anyone brave enough and stupid enough not to attend. (except for wakes,where we all tell outrageous lies about the deceased)

After around 6 or7 hours, someone upsets aunt Moira,(in her late 80's) who is a cranky old bitch sober. Then one or more of Moira's neanderthal offspring deck the miscreant,and it's on for young and old --Moira is now nearly blind,has no teeth and severe arthritis,so can no longer scrap as she once could. She is however, still capable of boisterous encouragement and imaginative invective.

Our extended family shows are not considered a complete success without attendance of the police and an ambulance. :0)
"Tarquin I hope you are writing Moira's biography, I would love to read it."

Nah,she's a cranky old bitch,not an interesting one.She also has the IQ of a potato.

These days Moira manages to get to not less than 2 funerals a week. It's her hobby.Not necessary that she knew the deceased,only that they be Catholic.

Gets legless on free booze and gets driven home by some kind mourner.
I just went through this a couple of weeks ago. You have to go, but you don't have to kneel or sing or pray. I am very up front about my atheism, so I feel no qualms about ignoring all the ritualistic bullshit when I am in a church. What I learned is that people will respect you for coming and appreciate your attendance even if you don't participate in the rituals. People who know you will respect you even more for coming- *especially* those who know you are an atheist and would otherwise have no desire to be in a church. So just go - and try not to get burned by any of the holy water :)
Go and stand in the back.
I went to my grandma's funeral at a synagogue and there was very little religion in it. The rabbi told some allegory about a fox who found a really nice garden through a fence, snuck in and then was so stuffed he couldn't get out until he lost the weight...I guess it was saying you can accumulate a lot of things while alive but can't take them with you.

I went to another funeral which was nothing but a big commercial for Jesus. It was very expensive and I thought it was very exploitive. That would have pissed me off (if I were the relative).

Another memorial I went to had pagan rituals and the people said that if anyone was uncomfortable they could go to the kitchen and get a sandwich or something. I didn't feel like getting up but I didn't put a message on a piece of paper and put it in a cauldron to burn...because it wouldn't reach her anyway. That wasn't bad and the woman had planned before she died to have her funeral be a celebration of her life...she just didn't realize she would die quite so soon.
Is there a better reason to have this planned? It reminds me to find a way to ask my dad about making sure his is planned very specifically since my step mother is still (3 years and counting) not speaking to me. Mine will have to specify that anyone attempting to override my husband or son will have to get in the back of the line for a good ass kicking.
Some hymns I will sing (love the ones about wine) and some I won't. I don't do emotional black-mail, so it is not a good idea for anyone to try it on me, though some have tried to poor results. This is one of those very personal issues that is also very individual based on both the person and the circumstance.

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