Friday, March 23, 2012

Grandma Puts The Fun In Funeral

My Grandpa died in 1991 at the age of sixty-three after a year long battle with a brain tumor.  He left behind my Grandmother who was only fifty-seven.  At the time my Grandpa's headstone was made, my Grandma decided to have her name put on the headstone too, and secured the plot next to his in the cemetery.

My Grandma came over to my house this morning.  She is now seventy-eight years old and in fairly decent health.  She told me that yesterday she and her sister went and paid and planned for their funerals.  I wasn't that surprised.  My Grandma loves a good funeral.  She will go to the most distant relative's funeral just to check it out.  I am not sure if this funeral appreciation started after my Grandpa had died or if she always enjoyed going to a funeral, but she wouldn't miss one for the world.  It's not that she enjoys the celebration of life or the together-ness of family and friends, she likes to critique things like how "good" the dead body looks (a good friend of hers passed away a few years ago and my Mother asked me to go to the funeral with her.  My Grandma greeted us at the door and told us to come look at the body, "She looks good!"  She declared.  "No she doesn't.  She's dead."  My Mother responded flatly) or what is being served at the funeral, or how much pizazz the priest or officiator but in to his presentation.  My Grandma has literally been staring her own mortality in the face for the last twenty-one years every time she goes to visit my Grandpa's grave and since she loves other people's funerals so much why wouldn't she want to take the reigns of her own and plan it while she's still alive and kicking?  

Grandma told me how much she spent (hot damn, funerals are expensive!) How much her casket cost and what materials it's made out of.  She also told me the order things would be conducted at her service (bury her, then eat.) and to get that hearse back to the funeral home ASAP since those things ain't cheap!  I had to give her credit for taking care of this before she actually does die since the last thing my mom and aunt want to be doing after their mother dies is humming and hawing over what kind of box she should be buried in (they'll be too busy going through all her shit.  My Grandma is a low-level hoarder. Neat and tidy, no dead cats, but TONS of random crap everywhere.)  Grandma is also a full-bloodied German, and we Germans love nothing more than efficiency so I think that also played apart in this.

Now my question is this.  Is feeding people at a funeral a thing?  I've been to funerals where there are impressive spreads and funerals where there is no food.  Why would you want to eat at a funeral?  Maybe bottles of water and a few treats, but like steam-trays full of things?  At my Grandpa's funeral there was a meal.  It was in the basement of the church her worked at and where the service was held.  But it's not like a wedding.  There isn't a dance that follows.  I think it's strange.

It doesn't make me sad that Grandma planned her funeral.  It's not out of character for her and she's probably going to live forever anyways.

My Mother also has funeral plans.  Nothing is actually paid for, but her wishes are very specific.  An invite-only funeral ("If they don't know me well enough to know that I'm dead I don't want them there.") no hymns, "don't feed anyone" and "I don't care what you do with my body."  Cori and I have decided a Viking Funeral would be in order for her.  Light her on fire and send her down the Mississippi.  


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Food was served at both my Grandparents' funeral...I think food is a tradition but it's not served to the casket. Is the food part what is called the "wake"? I don't know. All I remember is that we had the funeral, the burial ceremony, then off to a friend's house where they fed our little family (what was left of it) and the few close friends of my grandparents (they were my Mom's folks - and the died a week to the day apart from each other).

    These are my funeral plans: cremate me, throw my ashes in a cardboard box and dump them in Lake Superior. Honestly, do whatever is the cheapest. I'm not in my body anymore - what do I care about it?

    I came up with a joke for what to do for my Mom (b-t-dubs - I love your "Viking funeral" idea) - suggested it to her once and she LOVED it so it's probably what will happen. First of all, you should know: my Mom LOVES anything that sparkles or is shiny. So, in joking I said to her:

    "Mom, when you die we should cremate you - then I'll mix a whole bag of glitter into your ashes, and sprinkle them off the point into Lake Superior."

    She squealed and clapped her hands and said "I LOVE IT!" I told her it was meant to be a joke and she said she didn't care, that she thought it was a GREAT idea. My Dad was not happy. He said "This isn't funny. This is macabre." Poor Dad! My brother agreed and told me to STFU. Come on, death might as well be fun! Why not go out in a poof of glitter?!

    **Had to delete my original comment, edit and re-post because I realized I'd typed "clitter" instead of "glitter" and how awful is that?!