Since attending a funeral for the first time when I was thirteen, I have decided that funerals are morbid ritual to be practiced. While I have been argued with continually that funerals being for the living and not the deceased, I say “Why can’t the living respect the wishes of the deceased?” Sometimes this does happen, but as I have been to a few more funerals since the age of thirteen, I have seen that more and more the living ignore the wishes of the deceased.
A couple of examples, one of my uncles wished not to have a Christian based funeral as he had decided to follow a different path in his life. He was not asking not to have a funeral at all, just not a Christian base around the funeral. Having a gathering of friends and family remembering him at his graveside would have sufficed him as I am sure he thought it would be good enough for my aunt also.
Lo and behold, when the day of the funeral happened, it was Christian based. I’m not exactly sure if it was my aunt that decided this after his passing or if it was decided for her, but it happened all the same. My being a verbally, opinionated person such as I am, I spoke up as the officiator requested for the friends and family members to join hands for a moment of prayer.
“Have you people lost your minds or do you just not have the love and respect for Uncle Don that you have always claimed to have?” I cried. “You know this isn’t what he wanted, why are you doing this?” At this I backed away from the group of onlookers with a horrified look upon my face; people all the while trying to tell me to hush and calm down. I wouldn’t do it though. I knew that at least I would not desecrate my uncle’s memory like that.
A couple of years later, my cousin Michael called me on the phone one day informing me that he had just finished planning his final arrangements with the funeral home. Michael had been sick and was not getting better he knew it wouldn’t be too long. During the phone call, Michael had expressed his fears to me that he had wished not to have a funeral (Christian or otherwise, since he was a Buddhist) and just wanted to be cremated. He requested that I do for him as I had done for our uncle should the family decide to have a fiasco (as he would consider it) for a funeral for him. I told him that it just came out at that funeral and I couldn’t guarantee I would even be able to talk during Michael’s funeral. He began to tell me how he just didn’t want people gawking at him when he was gone and that it was against his beliefs to have these kinds of proceedings to happen and asked if I could understand. I told him I did understand and I would try my best to say something but I could not guarantee anything.
Then on February first of 2008, this world lost the most beautiful soul that resided here. Michael finally got to go be with our grandmother and no longer feel the pain the sickness was causing. His brother and mother planned out and put on the worlds worst funeral I had ever experienced. Michael wanted to have no funeral for the fact of the embalming fluid used and the gawking it would produce. They ensured the use of embalming and gawking. He wished to have no words (Christian or otherwise) said. They ensured the use of this. His sister-in-law sang “Amazing Grace” at this circus sideshow, changing the words “I once was lost” to “He once was lost” and pointed at the body that used to be Michael as she said it. According to these religious freaks, Michael had “repented and realized he had chosen the wrong path in his religious views” on his death bed. Where did these people have the right to think that they were the ones to decide which religious path was correct? I know for a fact that they would go with their freak of nature minister (who condemns anyone who does not share her point of view of religion) on a daily basis and argue with Michael about how he was doing wrong and would burn in hell for it. In the end, he finally gave in just to shut them up and allowed them to pray for him.
I have just one thing to say about this, “I’m sorry, Michael. I should have been here and with you every day in the end, so I could tell others off for you. You didn’t have the energy to do this yourself, I should have been there. I’m so sorry, I love you, and I miss you desperately.”
It is therefore my opinion, from having experienced this; people should be allowed to have their wishes fulfilled about their own funeral whether or not the living agrees with it.