Take a picture- It'll last longer!
When a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of...
Well, not exactly. After all, I'm not all that young anymore. And I don't really think of myself as morbid. Still, I just have to say that I do not get the point of viewing the open casket at a funeral.
Another example of how I'm not all that young anymore is borne in the fact that I have shifted from singing at weddings to a much higher concentration of singing at funerals. As such I have found myself at many funerals wherein people file solemnly by a casket holding the lifeless shell of someone who probably would not wish to be remembered as lifeless. Sometimes the singers are spared from going through the line. Other times, including times I just attended but did not sing, I have gotten out of line to leave without viewing the body. I don't mean to make trouble, I just don't get it. Why do people need to see a dead body?
I hear things about closure, but that rings a little hollow to me as well. Is it as if they won't believe the person is really dead if they don't see evidence? Does the mind fail to make the final connection despite all of the grief?
Ok. Here's what brings all of this up. I was looking through some pictures the other day to respond to BST's blog of embarrassing pictures (I found some doozies by the way), when I came across some pictures from my sister's funeral. There were pictures of the street scene showing cars overflowing the church parking lot and extending for blocks. There were pictures of the police called in to control traffic. There were pictures of attendees, of flowers, of the hearse and more. But most upsetting to me was a litany of pictures of the coffin and corpse.
What the- ?
What is the freakin' point?! I had fought a losing battle about the casket being open in the first place (Vicki did not want that) but I had held my ground about not viewing the body of someone who did want to be viewed and been fine. Now suddenly someone had preserved forever a scene I had hoped not to see. And for what?? Am I supposed to flip through those pictures and reminisce? "Oh, what a great time that was! What a wonderful Kodak moment!"
To quote a great theologian named Max, "My big ol' butt!"
Look, I admit that I may be a little sensistive to this for personal reasons. My mom died when I was very young back in the days when kids were not allowed in hospital rooms. Because of this and the fact that she was sick a long time, I do not have many visual memories of her. One I do have, however, is of her laying in a casket at the funeral home. I remember her dress, her necklace, the way her hair looked, the whole thing. Sure, I have photographs of her in more vibrant days, but the image in my head doesn't match up.
I absolutely HATE that.
Long story short (if it's not too late), I think people should be remembered the way they were when they were alive, not dead. I think viewing a dead body emphasizes the temporal nature of someone's existence which I believe is inconsistent with God's emphasis. If you want to try to change my mind, don't waste your time.
Rant complete. Sorry 'bout that.