11 February 2004

...and in a radical departure from my usual fare, i shall now take a few moments to write about Death, or at least, about what happens when someone dies.

i mean at the funeral, not at the proverbial pearly gates. there's a times article about newfangled funeral practices today that ends with one of the least healthy statements i've EVER SEEN. as follows:

-- But that does not mean a funeral mass has to be grim. In churches that allow it, Father Wasielewski, the industry critic, drapes the pews with balloons and crepe paper. "I try to leave grief out of the funeral," he said. "St. Paul says, `Do not grieve unless you have no hope.' "

At the service, he said, he tells relatives and friends of the dead: " `How many of you think George here went to hell?' No hands go up. `Went to heaven?' All hands go up. `So let's have a celebration. We don't want anyone grieving. If anyone's going to grieve, we'd like them to leave right now.' " --

that's right, NO GRIEF ALLOWED. because it wouldn't be natural to grieve, would it. i am sorely tempted to make this into a broader argument about american culture and the way it ignores inconvenient realities...but that would probably be too easy. instead, this note: the worst funeral i've ever been to (of seven, so far) was a "celebration of life" with no liturgy and no space for sadness or anger. i never, ever, ever want to repeat that experience again.

remind me to steer clear of father [polish name].