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08 December 2009 @ 06:10 pm
 
My MIL's funeral was Saturday. It was a long, hard day for everyone, and I don't know if the funeral offered comfort/closure or not.

It was a standard Episcopalian funeral service. Because I am not religious, I find such services unsettling: they follow the formula of celebrating eternal life in God, which is supposed to comfort believers with the thought that their loved one is "in a better place." I don't believe in such an afterlife myself, though I wish I could, and instead the service always bothers me because it is generic and impersonal. It seems to me that your funeral ought to be about you, a remembrance and celebration of you specifically. There was a bit of that in the gathering afterward, but I remember this from my FIL's funeral. He was a sweet, wonderful man, and no part of that service was about him as a person—the very special man we all loved and missed. The same was true here. The ritual reminds us that the person is gone, but it does not rejoice in who they were. To my agnostic spirit, that seems very wrong. I know that is the service my MIL wished for, and that she was far too humble to think she deserved more personal attention (she didn't want a eulogy, for instance, though there was one anyway at the after-gathering). But it still seems a terrible shame.

~*~

HSH and I spent Sunday getting the rest of the Xmas lights up, and Lauren surprised us by doing a lot of the inside Thanksgiving-removal and Xmas-decorating. It saves me all kinds of effort, and she did a really great job! ♥

A few of my "light sculptures" died (my angel with trumpet is x_x), so Lauren and I went out looking for replacements—to no avail. She found an inflato-penguin with a giant head that she really liked, but those are pretty dismal in their deflated state. Plus, with a 20-pound+ monster-cat stomping across it and the smaller one who doesn't fully retract her claws, I think it would have died a very sad death on our lawn in under a week. :0

I went out again at lunchtime yesterday to another store where I usually get good lights. It was packed with LED lights (the "white" ones are a hideous grayish-ghostly color), but I found a couple of chocolate-filled advent calendars for the kids. I also looked for adapters to combat one of my indoor-light-sculpture problems, but discovered my target solution is contraband! Apparently, NO-ONE wants you to ever convert a polarized plug connector down to an unpolarized plug connecter, which is exactly what I need when I'm driving two indoor light sculptures off of the same timer and one needs an extension cord. Good god—I'm going to have to sneak around Goodwill to look for more unpolarized extension cords!

LJ, stop eating everyone's comments already. :/

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she said mysteriouslyresounding_echo on December 9th, 2009 03:06 am (UTC)
In addition to everything you just said, I also feel that funeral services can quickly slip into the disingenuous; grief as performance. I hate it.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 9th, 2009 03:57 am (UTC)
*sigh* No danger of that here. There were three presiding church "officials," none of whom seemed particularly affected by the situation.

My MIL had broken off with this particular church location over one of the officials' attempt to strongarm us into more church attendance before agreeing to baptize Lauren. She'd gone to a different Episcopal church closer to where we live for about 8 years, and then moved into the assisted living situation where she didn't have transportation to get to church. I.e., she hadn't attended this particular location of the church in awhile.

But my FIL had been a regular volunteer there when he died, and the level of impersonality was exactly the same. :(
brigid_tanner: candlebrigid_tanner on December 9th, 2009 03:40 am (UTC)
I was an Episcopalian for a long time, before I went back to being an agnostic pagan, and I thought the funerals I attended there were well done. But it was a smallish church, with awesome priests, who made the service very much about remembering the departed and comforting the family with good memories of the person. I'm sure it varies from church to church. They took the time to make the service personal. Sorry it was such a tough day for you.

You can't get adapters any more? Damn...better hang on to the ones I've got! LOL! I needed to plug a 3-prong cord into a 2-prong plug years ago, couldn't find the adapter, and was horrified when my dad just took some snips and cut off the ground so it would go without an adapter. But he's an electrician, and it worked just fine. So that might be an option for you...cut off the polarizing leg.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Wanderinghalfshellvenus on December 9th, 2009 04:02 am (UTC)
But it was a smallish church, with awesome priests, who made the service very much about remembering the departed and comforting the family with good memories of the person.
The size might make a difference, or the "high vs. low" Episcopalian, I suppose. Mainly, I think this is one of the side-effects of Catholocism/Episcopalianism, i.e. the love of the rituals exceeding the attention to personal occasion. My sister converted to Catholocism before getting married, and her wedding was a Catholic Mass that might as well not have been a wedding. There was little "wedding" in that ceremony-- primarily, it was yet another generic Mass, trotted out for the occasion.

You can't get adapters any more?
You can't get the kind I want, that's for sure!

I saw plenty of 3-prong (grounded) to 2-prong adapters, but 2-prong polarized to 2-prong UNpolarized is apparently the mark of some evil arsonist scheme that no-one wants to support. Or something.

I'm not sure if I could go from 2-prongs to one. I think I'd be missing half of the AC/DC equation, and might just have a dead wire then. :0
brigid_tanner: Dean-scratching headbrigid_tanner on December 9th, 2009 01:19 pm (UTC)
I didn't realize polarized was a 2-prong. Huh...guess I haven't run into that problem! I totally misunderstood.

The church I attended was high church, but more friendly than the similarly sized High-High church down the street. Visited there once and it was cold in that service.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 10th, 2009 06:47 am (UTC)
The polarized has one wide-prong and one regular prong. Non-polarized has two prongs of the same size (which is why that stupid wide prong won't fit in there). The 3-prong thing is polarized and grounded, and fortunately there ARE adapters for those. I have more of those than I need, because I went a little nuts just in case (before I got better extension cords).

The church I attended was high church, but more friendly than the similarly sized High-High church down the street. Visited there once and it was cold in that service.
So much of that has to do with the people running the service. I don't know if they're priests in the Episcopal church or something else, but you know who I mean. When Christopher was baptized at the other Episcopal Church, it was during the second service (which is for younger people and tends to be less formal). The priest for that service was much more "communal" in style than the people at the other church (who at one point hit an all-time high in High Episcopalian, with a processional for the Bible and an incense-carrier and all kinds of pomp and circumstance, followed by the 3-person tag-team service. It was frankly rather bizarre).
Yo: SPN:  Hugs (animated love)dreamlittleyo on December 9th, 2009 04:29 am (UTC)
*is useless but offers hugs anyway*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 9th, 2009 06:50 am (UTC)
Hugs always help! And the banners too-- I haven't linked them up yet, but I plan to this week (when I can stay awake, which is not tonight).

Thanks so much for remembering those!
realpestilencerealpestilence on December 9th, 2009 06:44 am (UTC)
My condolences to your family. *hugs*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 9th, 2009 06:50 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
happy is as happy does: Hug - Friendshappywriter06 on December 9th, 2009 06:44 am (UTC)
Most of the funerals I've been to have been the same. Most of them seem to be impersonal on some level. Anyway, you sound like you're doing okay. Take care.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 9th, 2009 07:00 am (UTC)
Fortunately, I haven't been to many. Most of them have been less formulaic, with more remembrance of the person now gone. I just got an email from my SIL asking, "Wasn't that a wonderful service?" and I always dodge that question, because no-- if you're not religious, then it's an entirely empty service. It speaks on no other level, not even one of humanity or spirituality.

The good part of that is that it seems she found it lovely, and losing her mother was and is very hard on her (and her daughter, who is 23 now, was just devastated). So if it spoke to her (and the other children) then that's what matters. I just find the impersonal nature of it extremely depressing. I hope they don't.

We're doing pretty well, my own small family. This has been awfully hard on my husband, especially with everything else that's going on. The strangest things give you pangs-- magazines being forwarded to our house, where the subscription is still going even though my MIL is gone, or spotting an Almond Roca display in the store the other day (her favorite candy) and being reminded again that she won't be with us this Christmas.

But being missed is a sign of how much someone was loved. They are hopelessly bound together.
Princess Robot Bubblegum!astrothsknot on December 9th, 2009 09:33 am (UTC)
I was at a funeral earlier this year and the way the minister went on you'd thought God had died, not Colin. It was used as a recruitment drive. there was nothing about Colin.

I can't get my tree up - the window is leaking and it needs twenty people to come up to it to tell me that it's leaking and apparently, they all have to get their bosses to come and look it at it to tell me it's leaking.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 9th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)
It was used as a recruitment drive. there was nothing about Colin.
That seems doubly insulting to me, both to the occasion and the person who is being 'remembered' by that service. :(

I can't believe your leaky window hasn't been resolved yet! Is it the same one as last year? Is it the panes or something else?

If someone could commit to "It will be fixed on this date" you could caulk it or cover it with plastic, for crying out loud. But not until then, so you don't get someone saying, "Well, it doesn't appear to be leaking to me- no problem here!"
Princess Robot Bubblegum!astrothsknot on December 10th, 2009 08:15 am (UTC)
it's the same window. It's leaking at the vent and the seal on the right and bubbling at the lintel on the left.
be: depressedbeascarpetta on December 9th, 2009 05:03 pm (UTC)
So sorry to hear of your loss (*totally useless,since busily electrocuting herself atm with rather weird-looking lights son nr.2 managed to get at ebay*), feeling for you.
I still can't figure out why "Wasn't that a wonderful service?" always gives me the heebie-jeebies.
It must have been devastating for your husband as well.How did the kids bear up? (*hugs you,although still hot-wired*)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 9th, 2009 06:09 pm (UTC)
I still can't figure out why "Wasn't that a wonderful service?" always gives me the heebie-jeebies.
At this church, I always have that feeling (on the rare occasions I've been there), because their style of sermon/service is always wholly Christian-religious in its approach with no attempt to speak on a more general spiritual level. So for me, the service offers nothing because it's all centered on Christian faith, and that doesn't work for me at all. As in, rather than offering kindness to others and tolerating the bumps in life, it would be focused on "Jesus said..." and Christian duty to deliver that same message.

I sometimes wonder if my SIL forgets that I'm agnostic, or if she somehow thinks that the message she heard has a universal beauty for non-Christians. So I always evade, because the answer is, "No."

Funny-- I once helped a friend do an audition tape, which she was recording at a Unitarian Church, and she looked at the instructions for the microphone and read the last one, "For some reason, this microphone always works better if you smile." Then she said, "That's so Unitarian," in a dismissive way, and I boggled at that internally. She was a lifelong Lutheran who was transexual, and her church and its members were not at all welcoming to her. The Unitarian Church, however, would have been an ideal place for her. And moreover, what's wrong with that kind of message?

My husband stressed most of the week prior to the funeral because he was delivering a short eulogy at the after-gathering. He did a wonderful job, and it was a beautiful and fitting eulogy, and he made it all the way through it without trouble. I could never do that-- just mentioning the name of the deceased usually starts up the tears, and that's the end of it.

Lauren keeps so much inside, though she's very tender-hearted, and she sailed right through it all (on the surface). The service went right over Christopher's head, but he was very teary about it afterward, and then again at the after-gathering. He's very sentimental under that "die-die-die" boy exterior, and you never know what will stick with him in terms of grief or sorrow.

Hope you're having a little fun with your decorating, despite the potential dangers. I saw SO many lights on Amazon.com that I coveted, but didn't buy (no free shipping). There was a strand of penguin lights, some multicolored starts, and the one set I did buy (with free shipping) are those old-fashioned bubbling lights that my husband lights (and one of which I broke last year).

I hate it when my beloved lights die-- I count on them to be ready each year! Some of them don't matter-- you can get them anywhere, But my large hanging stars, where I hand-swapped all the lights out to make them colored instead of white? My mini-Christmast-tree parade (16 in all)? My purple lights that go in the tree out front? Usually, half the strand dies and you can never get it to come back again-- new fuses and light-testers be damned. :(

If I could repurchase them more easily, I wouldn't care. But nooooooo!
be: tensebeascarpetta on December 9th, 2009 06:39 pm (UTC)
Just a short note:
Right in front of our house we've got a beautiful fir tree,which we always try to decorate with strands of lights around Xmas.
Needless to say,my mother,aged 86,is in charge of supervising staff(basically myself and my husband)and won't allow anyone to do this before December 24,especially not her grandsons because they are very dear to her.
Unfortunately that tree has undergone a massive growth spurt so this year our tall ladder won't reach anywhere near the top.
Should I add that we always have at least one ambulance car parked in front of our house around December 24?
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Xmas Penguinhalfshellvenus on December 9th, 2009 07:31 pm (UTC)
Eeek! I love the idea of having an outdoor Xmas tree that you can decorate, though I wouldn't wait for the 24th (enjoy it while you can!) Depends on your country, though-- Denmark, for instance, has the tree-lighting ceremony on Xmas eve and not before.

Once the tree outgrows the ladder, though, that gets scary. We have a ginormous tree at the bottom of our street that gets decorated, and I've always assumed that the house owner works for the fire-department and can borrow the equipment.

I ran past a house on Sunday with those evil, ghostly-white LED lights run way the heck up into the tree (far beyond ladder range) and no other decorations. Huh?

If your ambulances worked on tips, I can especially see why they might lurk on your decorating day. ;)
(Deleted comment)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 9th, 2009 06:34 pm (UTC)
This particular Espiscopal church really goes for the "tag-team" services, with 2+ individuals present for each one. I have no idea why.

Does your version of the ritual usually include places where people talk about the deceased on a more personal level? That would certainly help. This one was purely a series of various Biblical texts and church rituals, and other than including my MIL's name from time-to-time could have been for anybody, or not a funeral at all. :(

Lauren did such a wonderful job-- I knew she wanted to set up the Christmas village, which was great (unboxing all the pieces and lugging things up and downstairs is trying). But while HSH and I were outside, she and her brother (with the cast on his arm) apparently got down one of the other boxes with most of the "cloth-based" decor and things like Xmas art they've created over the years. Really, she covered half of what I do inside at Christmas! That leaves us free to enjoy getting the tree this weekend and decorating it, and doing up the fireplace mantel and such.

I swear we're deeply paranoid about electrics in the uk, but US electrical stuff scares me stiff!
Hahaha! I think we feel exactly the opposite over here, but that's mainly because we have to use adapters when we travel and so many of the European outlets looks so old. Could be much safer, for all I know! Too much of the electrical inside our house appears to have been done by "Dynamo Dave," the manic handyman that the former owner loved. That includes Christopher's light switch, that sparks when you turn the lights on. :0

Someday, when he's got a little more energy, HSH will put the rubber gloves on and rewire that thing (over to the "white" instead of that dingy off-white while he's at it).

When we first moved in, the only enabled phone was the FAX phone in the back office (the phone company picked the wrong switch). I tried to rewire a few other phones to match (not realizing that it was a different line altogether), and discovered this disgusting gel surrounding the wires and a wholly random system for the wires in each line (even the red power and the black ground couldn't be relied upon)!

It was the clear mark of a Dynamo Dave job. :0
sassy, classy, and a bit smart-assy: SnoopyWoodstockbadboy_fangirl on December 9th, 2009 08:46 pm (UTC)
Not that I've been to tons of funerals in my day, but I have always felt that Mormon funerals tend to have a better balance of after-life consolation/joy and celebrate-the-life-of the departed; other Christian denomination funerals I've been too have been heavy on the former and lighter on the latter, and yes, it leaves you with a not-satisfied feeling, if there can be such a feeling after laying a loved one to rest.

However, the fact that your MIL said she didn't want an eulogy is just the kind of thing that I think should be disregarded. When it comes to funerals, the bottom line is they are for the ones left behind, not for the dead person. However they want their remains to be disposed of, now that's something to be sure to carry out (my uncle wanted his ashes dumped in a river that's his favorite fishing spot, even though you aren't supposed to do stuff like that). But the funeral itself is for the grievers.

Anyway, I'm just sorry you didn't feel the thing you were hoping to feel, or get some sense of closure. I imagine the whole process of death is remarkably different for an agnostic in comparison with someone who does believe in the afterlife, but there is so much about life to celebrate and focus on, it's a shame you didn't get more of that (and your family too).

So, here's all I've got: *hugs*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 10th, 2009 01:14 am (UTC)
other Christian denomination funerals I've been too have been heavy on the former and lighter on the latter, and yes, it leaves you with a not-satisfied feeling, if there can be such a feeling after laying a loved one to rest.
It's a sense that the person being honored has not been given their due-- as if they've been overlooked at their own funeral, and that just seems terribly wrong and unfair to me.

However, the fact that your MIL said she didn't want an eulogy is just the kind of thing that I think should be disregarded.
I agree-- and her children did too. People need to be able to grieve, and part of that grieving is giving remembrance to the person who is gone. There was far too much family "wank" after her death, mainly because my BIL invited some people to the service whom my MIL had disliked (for no reason that I could ever see), and my husband's sister raised a fuss over it. They wound up being UNinvited and very hurt over the whole thing, and while it was presumptive of my BIL to issue that invitation without discussing with his siblings it was too late to change once he'd done it. It would have been far better for them to be there (again, funerals are for the grieving, and they liked her) rather than to ever suspect that she didn't like them. :(

And thanks for the hugs and the understanding. I appreciate them both! :)
The Huntresshuntress69 on December 10th, 2009 02:20 am (UTC)
I just take out the Menorah and a fresh box of candles and I am all set for the holiday season LOL. Although I do miss helping to trim a tree. And hugs!!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Xmas Penguinhalfshellvenus on December 10th, 2009 06:50 am (UTC)
The tree-trimming and the lights are fun.

Growing up in an agnostic household, we celebrated all the holidays with lots of decorations and family, but none of them were "religious" holidays. Christmas, in fact, is largely a co-opted pagan Solstice celebration.

While looking at Xmas lights at Amazon.com the other day, I hit a Menorah selection that struck me as kind of... over the line? Aimed at people who were raised Jewish and totally don't take it seriously? I.e., Menorahs where the nights were marked by 1) dogs, 2) cats, and 3) random musicians. It wasn't so much the musicians that seemed out of place as the dog-Menorah and the cat-Menorah.