Your Vanity In Death And The Industry Of Grief

          Every time I attend a funeral I state how much I hate attending them. Inevitably someone condescendingly replies "EVERYONE hates funerals", and then everyone dismisses me for a period of time without hearing my explanation. While I will grant that nobody likes funerals, my reason for hating them is almost assuredly different than theirs.

Modern practices

          First, let us look at the modern funeral and burial process. After being declared deceased by a practicing physician, the body is sent to the morgue where it is "prepared". This process involves removing organs for donation or study, embalming the corpse, and any other postmortem details I may overlook or am not privy to. The body is then placed in an extravagantly decorated coffin, made of metal and/or wood and filled with pillows and cushions. This setup is then displayed for a number of days before being moved to its "final resting place", i.e. a grave site. Of course most of this process can be altered due to cultural or religious demands, or skipped almost altogether should the deceased elect to be cremated; in which case the ashes of the burnt corpse are placed in a keepsake (usually an urn) and either displayed or "scattered" someplace meaningful.

How it came to be

          Now let's ask, why is all this done? Well, years ago when medical science was not as precise as today, being buried alive was a very real possibility. People that were in a coma, or just too sick to respond or move at all, would be buried. Thus the practice of displaying the body for several days, then burying them in a coffin rather than just covered in dirt, would give the assumed deceased a fighting chance to "wake up" and get out. Now-a-days, after embalming, autopsies, any other such procedures, this is impossible. Once you are declared dead, you have all of a few hours to prove otherwise. The viewing itself serves no real purpose for the burial process, other than to give closure to the family and allow people to mourn together.

Death, a social event          This is where my opinion on the matter differs from the majority. The problem? I gain nothing from being in the company of most of my fellow human beings. I find it much more comforting to mourn quietly and privately for a brief time, and then get on with my life. Whether it is my cold-heartedness, or matter-of-fact way of looking at things, but I find no comfort in crying in public or even talking about things with others. I do understand being with family and maybe a few close friends, but the friends of friends, coworkers, and others who are just there "for support" and never really knew the deceased annoy me.

Fighting nature with vanity

          The only part of this morbid circus that annoys me more than that is the embalming process and the extravagant coffins that are used nowadays. These serve one purpose, to slow the decomposing process and leave the body as intact as possible for as long as possible. Why? When you're in the ground, do some good; feed the worms, maggots, and other insects that in turn help the soil to grow vegetation and continue the circle of life. Your own ego is nothing but a speed bump in said circle, delaying the process for years on end.

Wasted space

          Not that it matters too much, your body is most likely placed in a grave that is marked and reserved so that nothing may be built on that land for years and years to come. Again, why? What's the point of leaving a space that in 2-3 years will be all but completely ignored, save for the cemetery caretaker. Do you need a rock with your name carved in it for people to remember and honor your existence? If so, you probably deserve to be forgotten.

Celebrate life rather than mourn death

          When I die, I want no part of this posthumous spectacle. Take my body and either throw in a hole with nothing else but dirt, throw it in the sea, or donate it to science. Let it do some good (for a change). If those of you left living require the comfort of others, then throw a party. Don't stand around being depressed in my memory... laugh and party as if nothing has happened. Bring some single friends to introduce to my widow, as she'll be available then. Nothing could make me more miserable in the afterlife than to see everyone stand around being depressed because of me, and then just wasting money and resources on "the preservation of my memory". Move on. Accept it. It's ok to cry and be sad... for awhile, but don't drag everyone else down more after they have begun healing because you feel it necessary to share your feelings and memories with the public.


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  1. I said this to my Aunt the other day. We have lost quite a few family members and u keep telling people to celebrate that we were the lucky ones to have known them, been part of their lives. I totally agree I'd be miserable seeing family feel said at my departure. ... have a party!!!! Remember the good times ��. Thank you for this

  2. I agree! I want one of those cardboard coffins with a big flower on it. Something short and sweet for a service for those who'll be sad I'm gone - and then a few snacks and off you all go. Nice to see there's others that don't want all the pomp and ceremony!

  3. Hey there! Stopping by from the Sunday Blog Hop linky on Thank you so much for linking up! I agree that we should celebrate life, rather than mourn death. I'd love to see a funeral in a different culture to see that celebration. We should really do that in the States! Hope to see you again on the next linky :)

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