Archive for January 14, 2010

The Visitation- or what to decorate is the question?


Part Two – THE VISITATION or what to decorate is the question

If you are still with me after part one- none but the brave –BUT remember this will be happening to each and every one of us eventually— there is no escape….. no turning away from death!

We have now learned that the embalming process is done for a few reasons but mainly for visitation purposes and viewing the body . In some cultures including those that live in Lorain, Ohio it seems to be the norm.

It is a way of a community to pay their respects to those that have lost their loved one , and to meet and greet and share remembrances. It is a way of closure for some ( not all) but I respect those rituals and respected the right of my son’s extended family to have their way of closure.

Frankly it just goes against the grain for me. One of the very, very rare occasions that I attended a “visitation ” I over heard one aged aunt saying

” Doesn’t she look well”

I wanted to say :errrr She is dead!!!!how WELL can you look?

Or my friend, whose visitation I did attend ( under duress I might add) , lay stretched out in her Cadillac of a casket with her glasses perched on the end of her nose. Those that knew her well knew she didn’t wear them but for reading and was actually a little vain about her appearance ( she would have hated it). All I could think of was :

“OMG now she will have them on for decades under the ground unless they fall off!”

No ! the “receiving line of grief “ was not for me and to attend would have been hypocritical on my part – I may be many things but I am not hopefully not a hypocrite.

Coupled with the fact that upon hearing my son’s remains would not be available for the visitation due to cremation , ONE “extended” family member expressed to those gathered at the funeral arrangement meeting:

“If there is NO casket for display what are we going to DECORATE????

No!!!! my son was not a Christmas tree or mantelpiece to be decorated as a back drop to a receiving line…… I did not wish to stand in such a line with people who thought that way my beautiful talented son merely a backdrop to their “ritual of closure” filled me with disgust and pain.

I am not alone in my thinking that we need to face death and what happens.
The Desert Pastor Desert Pastor is actually Chris Monroe — an ordained elder in the Free Methodist Church who pastors a congregation in the high desert of Southern California

Open Caskets: Our Need and Our FearWith three funerals to conduct this week, it’s certainly understandable that I’ve been thinking about death, dying, and grief. And when it comes to grief, it seems to me that there is a growing number of people in our American culture who struggle with the whole notion of open casket funerals. At last night’s funeral, approximately 90% of those who attended chose not to approach the casket or even look in its direction as they filed past to leave. Afterward, a family member commented about it and asked me why that was.

For some families, an open casket funeral is a must — it’s a way to bring closure and to say their goodbyes. For others, it’s little more than a macabre display which dishonors rather than honors the deceased. Add to all this (IMHO) a general insulation from the stark realities of death and dying in our culture (VERY unlike many other parts of the world), so that no wonder people are either afraid of looking at death, or convince themselves that somehow they are above such a thing.

To Be Continued………..

January 14, 2010 at 2:47 pm 14 comments



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January 2010