Reflections Tradition

Who Owns the Dead?

Cotton Balls
For decades, Americans have been increasingly distanced from the dead. A small group of women is working to change that.

Source: Who Owns the Dead?

This article from New Republic is pretty incredible. Vanessa and I have talked about our desire to, as much as possible, not leave a body alone between death and burial, but these folks have taken that idea much further than either Vanessa nor I had considered before.

In a perfect world, we would want to have a wake—with the deceased—at the house surrounded by family and friends as the final personal send-off and remembrance before the funeral and burial. I recall with my dad’s funeral spending quite a bit of time at the funeral home, sitting out back by the hearses with my mom (where they had a smoking station), playing around in an empty office, generally trying to get some sense of what had happened. The funeral home or funeral parlor, so named because it replaced the family home or the home’s front parlor as where family or friends would gather to spend the person’s physical remains last moments amongst the living.

Returning back home after all of the events, during which I slept at my sister’s house, was an unsettling experience. The last time we were all home together, it was as we were walking out the door to the ER. I don’t know if having a sense of closure at home would have changed anything, but I’m open to trying it.

All that said, I’ve never felt the desire to go to the extremes (by today’s standards) of the families in the article. I’m a-okay letting other people prepare the body and generally following today’s norm with using a funeral home—just with having a wake in a more familiar setting.


A Funeral and A Birthday

On Saturday, I started the day with a funeral and ended it with my birthday dinner. When the funeral was set for the 15th and I was asked to help organize the reception, I paused. Without question, without hesitation, Ruben’s funeral and the celebration of his life with his family and friends far, far outweighed any need for me to celebrate my birthday, but there was the thought that I can’t celebrate my birthday, or at least couldn’t without guilt, when the day’s focal point would be the funeral of a good friend, long before his time should have come.

A Cake with Happy Birthday Candles