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Unfortunate Funerals

My mother's funeral was today. At the wake last night, my four alcoholic brothers and sisters set up a temporary tavern in a van in the mortuary parking lot (we're in our 40s and 50s) and proceeded to get completely sloshed, staggering about the parlor and disappearing into the dark for a half hour at a stretch to return even more so. Like-minded relatives joined them. I never saw anything like it before; it is not a family tradition, although alcoholism is.

SO, I'd enjoy people sharing stories about funeral mishaps and other experiences related to the cringeworthy associated with mortality and its customs. Assuage my grief and outrage, please!

(I said nothing, stayed polite, and just kept saying she'll/he'll be back soon when clueless relations and friends kept asking where so-and-so was. But really - This morning at the service the chapel smelled like a street festive outhouse, they were so nasty.)

by Leopoldreply 21706/16/2013

Sorry for your lost Leopold.

by Leopoldreply 110/21/2010

There was a fist fight at my grandmothers wake. My two uncles who hadn't spoken in 10 years started beating the crap out of each other in the ROOM WITH THE BODY.%0D %0D I come from trash, I tell ya.%0D %0D %0D

by Leopoldreply 210/21/2010

My drunken oldest sister managed to become the trustee of my elderly fathers estate. I, the youngest ended up taking care of my father in the last two years of his life dealing with his alcoholism and his senile dementia while my sister and brother spent his money and basically terrorized me and exhausted me. Eventually I sued to have her removed as trustee and she grabbed him and took him away. Shortly after he passed.

She was so so loaded during the preparations that my other sister and brother conceded to me making the arrangements. The night before the funeral she took off with a couple of guys and got truly hammered. She rolled into the family house at 9:00 am and passed out in a bedroom. We all left for the funeral scheduled at 10:00 am leaving her passed out over the objections of her 9 year old daughter who came with us, we explained that he was our Dad and we had to deal with it our way.

At the funeral, I went out to the front of the funeral home to wait for a family friend who was late when I saw our neighbors car racing up the long drive. She whipped up to the stairs, leaned over my still drunk sister, opened the door and pushed my sister out onto the driveway with her foot. The funeral director helped me pull her into the building, stinking, disheveled, hair akimbo and we dragged her to the front of the seating, where she began to berate us for not, "waking her up." She had apparently heard our cars leave and tried to get to her car when the neighbor found her.

Later, I of course won the lawsuit against her for stealing from my fathers estate.

by Leopoldreply 310/21/2010

the casket tipped over at my great uncle's wake because my giant aunt leaned on it all awhimper and the frame collapsed and my great uncle had to be heaved off the floor and reassembled.

by Leopoldreply 410/21/2010

I, too, am sorry for your loss Leopold.

by Leopoldreply 510/21/2010

My sister married "poorly" so at my fathers funeral a few months ago my sister's in-laws show up with baseball hats and halter tops. It was pretty disgraceful but the kicker was that it was sister who arranged the grave stone (which my father set money aside for and we were all to help pick-out) and had a hand holding a deck of cards on engraved on it. Since, I have decided to donate my body to science and not have any funeral or service of any kind.

by Leopoldreply 610/21/2010

As sad as this thread is, it is also quite hilarious.%0D %0D

by Leopoldreply 710/21/2010

[quote] set up a temporary tavern in a van in the mortuary parking lot (we're in our 40s and 50s) and proceeded to get completely sloshed, staggering about the parlor and disappearing into the dark for a half hour at a stretch to return even more so%0D %0D So?

by Leopoldreply 810/21/2010

At my mom's funeral people a meth addicted friend of mine horned her way up to the lectern and read a poem she'd written about watching the sunrise.

by Leopoldreply 910/21/2010

I'm sorry for your loss and having to deal with your relatives Leopold.%0D %0D No shitty funeral stories, but a friend of mine told me that her Irish grandfather was buried with a whiskey bottle in the casket.

by Leopoldreply 1010/21/2010

My very flamboyant, never-in-the-closet friend escaped from his hateful AME Baptist upbringing when he moved to the big city. His job and life brought him in contact with artsy types as well as lots of kids--everyone loved him and we were shocked by his unexpected death. %0D %0D The parents, whom he hadn't spoken to in years, hosted the funeral at an AME church in the hood. Lots of kids were in attendance, sobbing. It was obvious that they'd never been to an AME church before or perhaps even a funeral. %0D %0D It was a full-blown, fire and brimstone service. Lots of ranting and theatrics. The preacher went on and on about how everyone in attendance needs God in their life and if they don't, they are to approach the front to be saved or risk eternal damnation. This went on and on and on. I was squirming like crazy.%0D %0D Of course, some of the kids made their way to the front of the church to be saved. They all looked so confused and hurt as they made their way down the aisle. It really felt to me like they were targeted and being exploited. Meanwhile, my friend was lying in an open coffin just a few feet away. %0D %0D Awful.

by Leopoldreply 1110/21/2010

Jeez, me losing it on my Moms doctor at the funeral pales in comparison with some of these.

by Leopoldreply 1210/21/2010

[quote]hair akimbo%0D %0D Oh, boy.

by Leopoldreply 1310/21/2010

My brother wore a navy suit to Dad's funeral.%0D %0D NAVY.

by Leopoldreply 1410/21/2010

At my uncle's funeral, his son refused to let his half-sister into the church because she was estranged from the family at the time. Poor thing was sitting outside crying until my mom (not from my uncle's side of the family) brought her inside.

I, like all other DLers in that situation, wouldn't have let some douchebag dictate whether or not I attended my own father's funeral.

by Leopoldreply 1610/21/2010

My condolences, Leopold. %0D %0D R14 - Love you.

by Leopoldreply 1710/21/2010

I left the South as soon as I reached adulthood. My brothers stayed there. When my Mom died a few years ago, we all stayed in the same Hampton Inn in Mobile, AL.%0D %0D The night of her funeral, my brothers, cousins and their families staged a hoe-down in the lobby of the motel. It lasted until 1 p.m.%0D %0D A couple of wannabe singers sang original songs, cheered on by much foot-stomping and hooting.%0D %0D The rest sang songs traditional in our extended family.%0D %0D %0D %0D

by Leopoldreply 1810/21/2010

This was years ago, when I was in high school. My grandmother died, and my mother and father and I were sitting with the casket in the funeral home. My family is Irish Catholic, so there was a kind of magazine-like rack near my grandmother's body where people could leave condolence cards, or a card saying they'd asked (and paid) for a Mass to be said in my grandma's name.%0D %0D Long buildup, I know. Anyway, my parents and I are sitting there and a woman comes in, casts us a mournful glance and heads for the magazine rack to leave a card. Then she kneels and prays in front of the body. My parents are mouthing to each other, "Who IS that? Do you know her?"%0D %0D As it turned out, she had gone into the wrong room and the card was meant for another person. She had to skulk over to the rack and retrieve her card.%0D %0D We waited until she left to laugh hysterically.

by Leopoldreply 1910/21/2010

My father is a retired pastor, but he was ordained in the early 60s. I guess that there were still some survivors of the Spanish-American were still alive then. At a funeral for one of them it was raining at the grave site and a fellow comrade went to place flowers on the casket. With the rain and the advanced age of the guy, he ended up slipping and falling into the grave.

by Leopoldreply 2010/21/2010

As a kid, I attended a graveside service at the family cemetery out on the ancestral ranch. It's a very rural sort of thing, in a small grove of trees next to a creek in the middle of a working sheep ranch. During the service, my cousin was rounding up a flock nearby, to move into another pasture. It was just him on horseback working with a few of his dogs.

His way of directing his dogs was to curse at them at the top of his lungs, so while the minister was trying to deliver the eulogy, all we could really hear was my cousin screaming things like "GOD DAMMIT FUCKER, GET BEHIND THAT ONE! SHIT! GET AROUND, GET AROUND, GOD DAMMIT TO HELL!

by Leopoldreply 2110/21/2010

My father's funeral was Sunday. For the most part, it was well done (I did the eulogy) but when we got to the cemetery, there was a problem getting the casket into the grave. Apparently, the hole wasn't big enough for the casket. It was...bizarre. But then they finally got the casket into the grave and that was that. I kept thinking that was my father's doing--he always had a dark wit.

by Leopoldreply 2310/21/2010

These are awful. AND I love them.

by Leopoldreply 2610/21/2010

I hate visitations with an open casket, especially when the dearly departed looks like they're "sleeping". Creeps me out.

My grandmother had a visitation with an open casket. I was reluctant to go and see her, but when I did I couldn't believe it. She had the same hairstyle and hairdresser for 50 years. So the hair looked alright. But the make-up. She was always very careful about the hair, clothes, and make-up.

Whoever did her gave her these huge black caterpillar eyebrows, too much rouge, and shocking pink lipstick and nails. I silently started talking to her. "Grandma, I know! You look ghastly. You must be dead, because that's the only way you would ever wear something like this."

The visitation was also my birthday. Standing next to the casket in the receiving line, I wanted to say, "Hello. This is my dead grandmother and it's my birthday. Where's my present?" I didn't, but I should have.

by Leopoldreply 2710/21/2010

Sorry Leopold.%0D %0D Sounds like your siblings alcoholism is more of a problem than your loss however. %0D %0D Alcoholism and substance abuse is really the essense of hell on earth in my opinion.

by Leopoldreply 2810/21/2010

My cousin committed suicide by shooting herself in the head. She was not a churchgoer, so I suppose the funeral parlor just assigned a minister. Her funeral was presided over by the Reverend Gunn.

by Leopoldreply 2910/21/2010

I actually forgot an incident probably because it hits a bit too close to home. This happened at my dad's funeral a couple of years ago. My mother has always been a very cold, unfeeling woman and a rageaholic. Very narcisstic, to boot. During the service several people, including our neighbors, were crying. My mother did not shed a tear at any point before, during or after. But she did have to disrupt the service by LOUDLY blowing her nose. It reverberated through the chapel. She did it several times. The last time the priest just stopped and waited for her to finish. Even my father's service had to be about her.

by Leopoldreply 3010/21/2010

Another one I just remembered:%0D %0D After the funeral we all drove in a procession to the cemetery. I was new in town and didn't know my way around. I was probably the 8th car in the procession. Unexpectedly, the car I was following pulled into a parking lot. I pulled in behind her. So did the car behind me, etc.%0D %0D The person I followed parked. I pulled up alongside. "Why did you all follow me in here? I need to run into the drug store for some cigarettes! You should have just followed the car in front of me and I would have caught up with you all at the funeral!!"%0D %0D There were about 4 or 5 cars, some filled with family members, waiting in the parking lot for her to buy cigarettes because we didn't know how to get to the cemetery ourselves.

by Leopoldreply 3110/21/2010

These are great stories, wish I had one. Just wanted to say how sorry I am for you, Leopold.

by Leopoldreply 3210/21/2010

"hair akimbo"

I've got to see a picture of this!

by Leopoldreply 3310/21/2010

When my granddad died, my mother and her disgusting friend got all liquored up, and ended up falling into the hole dug for the grace!! Gran and I were mortified

by Leopoldreply 3410/21/2010

(((Leopold))) and my deepest condolences on the loss of your mother. My mother died a few months ago.%0D %0D I am loving these stories! I really don't have any stories except that the most evil woman in the world, a person who was relentlessly cruel to me, died on my birthday about three years ago. Yay!

by Leopoldreply 3510/21/2010

this bitch started laughing....

by Leopoldreply 3610/21/2010

First if all - Leopold, I am sorry for your loss and sorry you had to deal with a bunch of drunk family members. But you handled it very gracefully (which was more than they deserved, IMO).%0D %0D When my partner's mother died, my partner's religious-nut brother Robert took over the proceedings. There was a Rosary service to which he invited tons of his church friends whom none of the rest of us had ever met. They were all acting like they were part of the family, and were going on and on about how this was such a "glorious day". %0D %0D Robert convinced the parish priest that he was not needed for the Rosary service, and he led the recitation himself. The priest was in his nearby office, apparently spying on the proceedings, but at the same time listening to a basketball game which was faintly broadcast throughout the church: "Holy Mary, Mother of God....goes to the hoop! Shoots, SCORES!"%0D %0D At the actual funeral service, Robert's friends tried to walk down the aisle and sit with the family until I got tough and told them to back off, this was not their affair. Robert got up and spoke for nearly an hour, just rambling and off the cuff, and wound up with the very original punch line: "O Death, where is thy sting?"%0D %0D Robert held a post-funeral gathering at his home, and we stopped by for only a few minutes because all my partner wanted was to get the hell away from all these people. When he opened the fridge to get something to drink, we spotted a large plastic pitcher with a masking tape label that said HOLY WATER. We both burst into hysterical laughter and got the hell out of there.

by Leopoldreply 3710/21/2010

When a cousin passed suddenly, my huge family gathered to attend the service out of town. It was summertime and hotter than Hades. After FOUR HOURS of service, complete with holy rollers and people fainting, we had to leave to catch our flights. Those that could stay said the service went on for about another hour. A five hour funeral service! Granted, it's not drunken brawls but really....

I also sat through a sales pitch to my mom from the cemetery where my mom will be interred when the time comes. I can't fucking believe what they charge! I've never had to plan a funeral before and I knew it was expensive but geez!!!! $840 for a nameplate on a mausoleum. $145 process fee??? $169 installation fee???? $250 if you want the date on the name plate????? She'll (we'll) end up paying almost $1500 just to have her name on a wall!!!

by Leopoldreply 3810/21/2010

When we first went to the funeral home to see my grandfather, he was wearing an ill-fitting black suit in the casket. Grandma was moritified, as she had brought his favorite brown suit to the funeral home the night before. That's when she sees a man in the next viewing room laid-out in Grandpa's brown suit. Turns out the funeral home had mixed up the suits. The funeral director ushered us into the lobby and said he'd take care of it. Less than five minutes later, we returned to the viewing room and Grandpa was laid out perfectly in his brown suit. %0D %0D Even Grandma was impressed. "How did you take care of it so quickly?" she asked.%0D %0D The funeral director replied, "We just switched their heads."

by Leopoldreply 3910/21/2010

The funeral industry is a huge scam. I don't kmow the exact figure, but my parents paid an exhorbitant price for their crypts and my Dad's funeral service, casket, embalming etc. was well over $20K. I couldn't convince my mom to go with creamation or cheaper options for the casket.%0D %0D Despite how much they paid at the cementary, they don't even bother to remove dead and dried flowers from graves.

by Leopoldreply 4010/21/2010

When my mom died we were all corralled into the funeral director's office to go over the details for the obituary as my dad was recovering from bypass surgery. The 'new' pastor Mom never liked was there to lend support.

We told the director how Mom was a housewife who had taught Sunday school, done the PTA bit, protested Gulf War I and tried to get arrested (the cop refused), raised us and a few cousins when they had 'trouble', belonged to a bridge club and bowling league, and tended all of her gardens blah, blah, blah. The obituary looked great and reflected a full life.

At the funeral I remember the pastor started off with, "Marietta, a bowler..."

The rest of his talk was focussed on bowling as a metaphor for life. As the talk wound down, Dad whispered, "what an asshole". Dad is hard of hearing so the pronouncement carried.

by Leopoldreply 4110/21/2010

There was a huge family fight over my mom's headstone. It was supposed to be a mutual decision but our younger sister had her own idea of what it should look like and she refused to contribute toward our "ugly and depressing" choice. Okay, fine.%0D %0D Months later: my brother and I go to the cemetery to see mom's finished headstone, and it is NOTHING like what we chose. Instead of a plain bronze marker to match Dad's, it's some awful pink granite thing with one of those ceramic PHOTOS - a photo of my mom ("Our loving mother") and my SISTER! Apparently she cancelled our order and made her own tacky choice the minute we left. %0D %0D We're still not sure what to do. Although I hate to think of Mom resting in perpetuity under such a crappy memorial, I could see an endless and expensive headstone-replacement war developing. And I don't know if we're up to dealing with that.

by Leopoldreply 4210/21/2010

That reminds me R42 - there was an old, old italian lady buried next to my grandparents. She had one of those ceramic pictures on the headstone.%0D %0D When I was a kid I thought that was so weird and I would make up ghost stories about her and scare my sister.

by Leopoldreply 4310/21/2010

R42, if something heavy fell several times on the pink stone. Also, you should ask for your money back from the stone carver- he didn't provide the contracted work.

by Leopoldreply 4410/21/2010

My sister in law (hardcore catholic) arranged for a priest from HER church to come by and give my mom last rites. My mom was not affiliated with any church, especially a catholic one. Then they started calling all her close friends to let them know she was on her last hours and for some bizarre reason they all come over and came into my mothers room where she was lying in bed barely concious and one lady who had become born again started doing her holy roller prayer, and OH JESUS! really loud. I was in shock from knowing my mother was dying to get those people out of the room. They stayed there until she died! And all afternoon.

We are latino, but I have never heard of people all piling in to the room where someone is dying to witness it. When I think about it, 5 years later, I still can't get my head around it.

by Leopoldreply 4510/21/2010

Most of my partner's siblings are middle aged stoners.%C2%A0 Her sister went through a long illness before her death and put my partner up to this:%C2%A0 At the wake a walkie-talkie was hidden under the pillow on which the deceased rested.%C2%A0 My partner hid in the next room where she could see the body, but couldn't be seen. When a certain sister in law (a favorite stoner buddy of the deceased) approached the body my partner spoke over the walkie-talkie, "Wanda!%C2%A0 Wanda!%C2%A0 It's me Marie!".%C2%A0 Wanda, who was stoned, turned white and started to nervously glance around.%C2%A0 Everyone else%C2%A0 was in on the joke so no one reacted. %C2%A0 "Wanda! Are you listening to me?"%C2%A0 Wanda nodded slightly. "Wanda, it's great here.%C2%A0 Heaven is wonderful.%C2%A0 They let you smoke pot here.%C2%A0 Can you believe it?%C2%A0 We can all smoke pot!" %C2%A0 At this point Wanda was white as a sheet and starting to look a little light headed so everyone let her in on the joke. We should have filmed it ....

by Leopoldreply 4710/21/2010

A fight started out at my grandmothers wake when my aunt said to my uncles wife loudly.. "What are you crying for you fucking phony"? It escalated from there into a scene of Housewives of New Jersey.

by Leopoldreply 4810/21/2010

About a year and a half ago a good friend hanged himself. He was found on Monday morning and the funeral turned into a week-long affair. The first visitation wasn't until Friday evening, which meant all week the guys in the local gay.com chat room were talking about it. Bunches of gays who barely knew our friend showed up to cruise the events, including one -- I swear to GOD -- in flip-flops. My dead friend, unfortunately, was dressed in an argyle sweater vest, which he would never have worn in life. But having hanged himself he needed something to cover the damage to his neck.

The funeral was Saturday, but the burial was Sunday, and only the closest of his friends were invited. It was rainy, and there was a tent and only a few chairs, so one other mourner and I had to stand just outside the tent under an umbrella, which meant our eyelines were much higher than the rest of the guests. Our friend had asked to be cremated, but knew his parents would never go for it, so requested a simple box. Across the box was a basic tarp. The minister talked on and on, though thankfully we couldn't hear him over the sound of the rain on the tent. But the tent wasn't water-tight and the tarp over the box slowly got wetter and wetter and eventually you could see through it to the box beneath. Clearly written on the top of the box was HEAD, indicating at which end of the box his head was, but also subtly reminding anyone who saw it how he killed himself. Thankfully, his family seated couldn't see the top of the box, though we could outside the tent.

by Leopoldreply 4910/21/2010

OP here - thanks, ya'll, for the tonic. I feel reassured.

I should share that my partner's and my favorite funeral experience was his cousin Roy's funeral. The elderly farmer was a diabetic, notorious for bad hygiene, and had no circulation before he died. He had bed sores.

The embalming didn't take. We walked into the funeral parlor - a large long room - and a cluster of elderly people were huddled at the far end opposite where the coffin sat. Ladies had hankies over their faces. Roy looked peaceful and decrepit. One spot where the spray-on makeup had not hit his hand revealed an ominous blackness. The odor was overwhelming - death and Pine Sol.

The funeral director kept buzzing through spraying air freshener. We stopped him and asked what was going on. He was hysterical. He said it was terrible, they tried everything, it was just too much, the body was just too far gone, he was so sorry - we started laughing and couldn't stop. Roy's girlfriend announced when he left that she was going to "let people know about this." Roy just lay there with an enigmatic smile.

by Leopoldreply 5010/21/2010

R47, I hope that's true. It's hilarious.

by Leopoldreply 5110/21/2010

These are all golden tales of mirth and woe.

Excellent thread!

And condolences, dear Leopold.

by Leopoldreply 5210/21/2010

My friend's neighbour died 2 years ago last March. She & my friend knew a man who lived out of town near an Indian reserve where Native cigarettes were made and sold. They were regular customers of his as were a lot of their friends and family. The friend was coming in for the funeral and when he arrived in the parking lot a line formed at his large van where mourners lined up to buy Native cigarettes that he had brought into town with him. Some of the mourners buying the ciggies were at the funeral parlour for other deceased people. He told my friend later at the wake that he made a cool $1,500 on the mourners that afternoon.

by Leopoldreply 5310/21/2010

My cousin's grandfather died the summer I first got to the US. I didn't know him, but my cousin wanted me to go with him to the church for support. My cousin has some real red neck cousins on the American side of his family. One of them who was supposed to be a pall bearer didn't even own a suit, so he was told to go out and get one. I swear it was made of black plastic. I have never seen anything so shiny that wasn't vinyl. On top of that, it didn't even fit his tall, fat body. When he picked up the coffin in the church the whole backside of his trousers ripped out. He had to walk the entire length of the church with his arse hanging out. His pants were old and nasty and yellowish.

by Leopoldreply 5410/21/2010

That is hilarious, Ciaran. But someone really ought to have gotten up and walked directly behind Mr. Shinypants if only to preserve a portion of the dignity of the dead man's exit.

by Leopoldreply 5510/21/2010

When I was about twelve years old our nieghbor's eighteen year old daughter died. It was a little mysterious at the time but it turned out that she had committed suicide by drinking some poisonous substance. The mortician had tried to hide the burn marks around her mouth by building it out of putty or something putty like. A while into the viewing her upper lip just sort of became detached showing all these deep open wounds and the stitches that had sewed her mouth back together. The funeral director asked everyone to leave the room for a moment and he sort of re-glued her together. A few hours later her boyfriend arrived and everone left him and his sister alone with the body for a private moment. He almost immediately and loudly threw up on the casket, in the casket, on the floor and pretty much everywhere. The funeral director ran in and closed the casket. That was the end of the viewing, and I always wondered if he tried to give her a goodbye kiss.

by Leopoldreply 5610/21/2010

The priest was following the coffin out of the church R55. Wouldn't have been right to push in front of the priest, I should think.

by Leopoldreply 5710/21/2010

Open caskets are just horrible. Why do people still do that? A friend went to an open casket funeral for a baby once -- A BABY!

by Leopoldreply 5810/21/2010

{{Leopold}}%0D %0D You have my sincere condolences.

by Leopoldreply 5910/21/2010

I guess people aren't in their right minds when they're planning funerals for loved ones, but an open casket isn't always the best idea, is it?

A nice picture of the deceased on top of a closed casket, smiling and full of life, would have been more sensible in a number of cases.

by Leopoldreply 6010/21/2010

"Open caskets are just horrible. Why do people still do that."%0D %0D Because it's tradition, I suppose. I've been to the funerals of several family members, all of them open casket. It is a very unsettling, eerie feeling to see someone you knew silent and dead. You're looking right at them; they're right in front of you. But they're GONE. The person you knew is gone, never to speak or open their eyes again. They're right there...but they're NOT there. It is such a weird feeling. I hate it.

by Leopoldreply 6110/21/2010

R19 here. I don't mind the open casket. In fact, I'm kind of used to it. When I was growing up, my family had an enormous number of older people, and someone always seemed to be dying. When I was 7 my aunt died; she had taken care of me a lot, and I was heartbroken. I begged to go up to the casket and be allowed to kiss her forehead. It was OK; just kind of cold. I think it's a way of knowing someone is really gone, and seeing that for yourself.%0D %0D Of course, I know how weird it seems if you've never grown up with it (and maybe even if you have).

by Leopoldreply 6210/21/2010

In 1975 at my 96 year old grandmother's funeral one of my alcoholic female cousins pretended to be overcome with grief before the service started and ran from the building wailing like a banshee. After about 15 minutes I decided to go outside and look for her to tell her the service was about to start. I found her in her car swilling Vodka straight from the bottle like a mad woman. The bitch couldn't even hold it together long enough to bury our grandmother. I was so pissed I just leered at her and said "if you value your life you will not come back inside". She didn't.

by Leopoldreply 6310/21/2010

I heard about this funeral from a friend. His friend's uncle died. It seems the family was Jewish but knew nothing about their own religion. They were very non practicing. It turns out the uncle was more religious than they. When they got to the cemetery the rabbi would not do anything if the men did not have their heads covered. They had no yarmulkes (sp?). My friend went back to his brother's truck, which he had borrowed to take his friend and his family to the cemetery. There he found a hardhat, a plaid hunter's cap and one of those leather hats with those furry earflaps for the winter. This is what he and his friend and another man in their party wore as they stood over the guy's grave and the rabbi did his thing. I still chuckle thinking about what they must have looked like, sort of a demented The Village People look. I wish they had camera phones in those day. I'd love to have seen this.

by Leopoldreply 6410/21/2010

.

by Leopoldreply 6510/21/2010

My grandmother's funeral. I wanted to honor her and she was a very faithful catholic (but liberal and loving) and involved in her church. I had never set foot inside a Catholic church, but somehow somebody thought it was a good idea to have my sister and I assisting with communion. I have a cringe-worthy memory of standing in front of masses of people and my mom frantically trying to signal what I should do with hand signals. I'm sure my grandmother forgives me, but I feel guilty for embarrassing her in front of her congregation.

by Leopoldreply 6610/21/2010

Mom was terminally ill and very, very difficult to deal with. It's a long story but basically she treated me like shit deliberately, despite the fact that I was the ONLY one who took care of her. When she was in her final days, her other relatives and kids (my step siblings) actually got IMPATIENT when mom didn't die soon enough. Mom didn't want a funeral but they insisted and I didn't have the strength by then to tell them no.

So, the funeral. Mom had been well known in this tiny town, but the funeral director was a huge douche who said mom wasn't "important enough" (his words), so he had his untrained assistant handle the affair. While I didn't recognize her at first, when she ruined mom's funeral, I realized who she was: A lady who used to sit in the lunch room of the insurance company I worked at and loudly gossip about everyone, including me. She got fired when she gossiped about the company president while he was sitting a table away.

She, through spite or incompetence, fucked up the service. She didn't get the cremains box ready in time, so she put a doily on top of the display box to hide "DISPLAY" engraved on it. Then AFTER the service, she told me the funeral director hadn't bothered to drop by mom's ashes, either. We had a funeral for a display box, essentially.

The relatives who wanted the funeral were petulant and rude. Well, the ones who showed up were. Mom's son and other close relatives didn't bother even though the had demanded a service. None of them offered a dime for costs, none bought flowers, and most didn't even wear dark or nice clothes. When the service was over, they all said, "Gotta go, don't call us", took some of my family photos, stole some of the flower arrangements, then skeedaddled.

Mom wanted to be scattered but all of a sudden out of the blue, one step sister and an aunt became irate that mom wasn't going to be in the family cemetery. I was quite honestly in the middle of a nervous breakdown at that point and I said fine, you can fucking have her. I arranged a headstone and burial over the phone and mailed her damn ashes 7 hours away.

Mailing cremains is one of the many services UPS provides, by the way.

by Leopoldreply 6710/21/2010

I had older relatives die when I was a kid too, r62, all in open caskets. Fortunately, they looked fine. As an adult, I've been with other relatives as they died, so seeing bodies doesn't freak me out anymore. But I think most people avoid seeing bodies nowadays. A friend of mine just lost his partner, and he deliberately left the hospital a couple hours before his partner died so he wouldn't have to see him dead.

by Leopoldreply 6810/21/2010

"Open caskets are just horrible. Why do people still do that?"%0D %0D In my family, it's because we want to make sure the fucker is really DEAD.%0D %0D

by Leopoldreply 6910/21/2010

Great! Thanks again.

On the open coffin issue, my mother had six surgeries in six weeks, was in ICU for several of them, thrashed around and pulled various tubes out herself causing bruising issues, and lost weight after starting out very underweight in the first place before she died. Then my hysterical alcoholic bitch of a sister (the Executrix Controller) demanded a full autopsy, which not only did further trauma to the poor body but delayed the funeral by several days. The whole thing took a full week. Needless to say, the embalmer and makeup person had challenges. (And despite my keeping in touch with expressions of support, my partner and I had to find out the funeral arrangements from the newspaper obituary, because . . . )

The person in the box looked like Mme. Chiang Kai-Shek after a bad facelift with a Gabor wig and wax lips. It was very strange. I knew it was my mother's body, somehow, but damned if I still lack any sense that I saw my mother dead. So I don't have that healthy jolt of visceral knowledge that an open coffin supposedly ensures. I have had an unhealthy jolt that Madame Chiang Kai-Shek definitely is dead, again.

by Leopoldreply 7010/21/2010

[quote]At my mom's funeral people a meth addicted friend of mine horned her way up to the lectern and read a poem she'd written about watching the sunrise.

Well was it a nice poem, R9?

by Leopoldreply 7110/21/2010

At my mom's funeral a woman who I worked with came up to me and told me that my dad needed to get out and start dating and then handed me her number. I almost threw up.

When I saw her at work I was relentless with being an ass to her.

by Leopoldreply 7210/21/2010

I'm sorry Leopold.

by Leopoldreply 7310/21/2010

Oh, Leopold. That's awful. Your sister needs professional help, seriously.

by Leopoldreply 7410/21/2010

Years ago, I was at a funeral for the mother of a woman who was a classmate of mine at university. The service was held at an old church in downtown Toronto and it was in Ukrainian. %0D %0D None of us from school could understand a thing that was being said but it was very sad and somewhat startling at times. It was an open casket and at several points during the service, a family member would come up to the casket and throw their arms around the body while wailing in grief. %0D %0D After one of the longest hours I've ever endured we were gathered outside the church waiting for the family to leave for the cemetery. The casket was loaded in the hearse and the immediate family was waiting to get into the limos.%0D %0D Suddenly, the hearse started to pull away from the curb very slowly. We thought that was odd because the family wasn't ready and as the hearse picked up speed we could see the funeral home guys start to get into a tizzy. More velocity and the funeral home guys start chasing the hearse. There was NO driver.%0D %0D One guy caught up to it but the passenger door was locked. To this point, the vehicle had been going straight down the street and managed to get safely through a busy intersection. All of a sudden it veered left and hopped the curb up on to the sidewalk. Pedestrians scattered, the hearse glanced off the side of a building and back on the road when finally some got inside and brought it to a stop.%0D %0D We were horrified and hysterical at the same time. All of us afraid to go back to school and have to answer the question "How was the funeral?" with a straight face. Swear to god.

by Leopoldreply 7510/21/2010

[quote]We are latino, but I have never heard of people all piling in to the room where someone is dying to witness it.

R45, my paternal grandfather died about 12 years ago early on a Sunday morning. I was still a "Christian" at the time and I got a call from a family friend that morning and I found out my grandfather had died through him. None of my relatives had bothered to call to tell me. Apparently he had been ill for a couple of weeks and in the hospital for the last week of his life.

He at like 6:00 am on Sunday and I got to the hospital around noon because I knew the family was still there. The front desk gave me a room number and I was stunned when I walked into the room.

He had been dead for like six hours and his body was still in the bed. Two of my cousins were on either side of the bed rubbing his dead ears and crying hysterically. And there were jars of body fluids on the bed stand.

All I can focus on is that this man's lying there and the family's all visiting and chatting like he's just asleep or something.

Eventually a nurse comes in and tells the family that they HAVE to take him to the morgue. She then holds up this package that had the word "shroud" on it and tells us all that he needed to be enshrouded before he was taken to the morgue and that she could do it or the family could if they wanted to. So the family decided to do it. I left the room.

Two of my uncles don't get along and their wives got into a yelling match in the hallway of the hospital that morning. And my dad, who had pounded Christianity into his family's brain, stood at his father's deathbed and said "there is no god, if there was my dad wouldn't be like this."

by Leopoldreply 7610/21/2010

I should have said it in my earlier posts, Leopold, but I'm sorry for your loss.

by Leopoldreply 7710/21/2010

Check out R42's link under Cremation jewelry pendants & Pet cremation jewelry%0D %0D %0D %0D Cylindrical Cremation Urn Jewelry for Creative Persons%0D %0D %0D "creative persons"

by Leopoldreply 7810/21/2010

Weird but true...%0D %0D When my father died the funeral director arrived at the church with the cremains. One problem. The priest would not allow the urn in the church. In Catholicism, it is a matter of choice for the pastor to say a service if there is cremation. I put dad on the front seat of the car, and went inside. I reflected on the fact that in life, he sat in the car on Sundays while the family was inside the church. He used to say "I don't need to sit in that place to get holy." %0D %0D Nothing had changed.%0D %0D When my mother died the service was said by a priest from Africa who was almost unintelligle. Near the end of the service, he mentioned my name and talked about how much I had done for my mother. He paused, and then added, "what's the name of your brother again?" I politely (and quietly)mentioned my brother's name (we were both in the front row, and mind you, my brother did nothing--repeat nothing--for mom and dad when they were dying). The pries asked again "what's his name? I didn't hear you." I quietly repeated the name. Again, the priest asked "what's his name?"%0D %0D My brother shouted out his name. %0D %0D The priest nodded his head, repeated the name, and then asked my brother "is that you?"%0D %0D At my aunt's funeral, my cousin's hideous, obnoxious, repugnant brother-in-law got up to give the eulogy...and spoke only about himself and his wife. Not a word about my aunt. Total disbelief in the funeral home. %0D %0D Then the priest decided "to have a few words with you all before you leave." He talked about how he was in business before he decided in his forties to enter the vocation. Let's do the math...%0D %0D *He was unmarried %0D *After the service he told me that he loved musical theater and had seen "Grey Gardens" twice%0D *He left with his "assistant" who was sex on a stick and at least 30 years younger%0D *Before the service he went on and on about how "lovely" the floral arrangements were%0D %0D Btw, my aunt was not Catholic. It was the brother-in-law's idea. Macho guy, Italian stallion type. He thought the priest was "a real gem." LOL.

by Leopoldreply 7910/21/2010

Leopold, I'm so sorry for your loss. I hope these stories have helped to take some of the sting out of the funeral for you.

Someone take these stories and write a book with them, or a play or something. It's all too good material not to use.

Open caskets were the thing when I was growing up too and we all thought it was gruesome. Neither of our parents, or either of us, ever wanted open casket funerals. Both my parents were cremated per their request. It's cremation and an eco-cemetery for me; I want a Yew, Apple, or Dawn Redwood tree for my gravemarker. Or maybe a Ginko tree. My partner says he doesn't care what they do with his body once he's out of it.

At my uncle's funeral the minster made such a histrionic show of it that my father turned to my mother and said: If you let that son-of-a-bitch make that kind of a show over my body, I'll fucking get up and walk out." And Dad had a big voice, so the whole chapel heard. Then minister delivered the final blow "we used to believe that God was greater than we, but now we know that it is we who are greater." Mom gasped, croaked out "Blasphemer!" and dragged us all out of there, never to return. That same minister refused to allow my grandfather's funeral to happen at his church (Presbyterian) because my grandfather was a Mason, and he wanted a Masonic funeral, and the Masons had black-balled the minister. His nose was still out of joint about it, and many ministers at the time refused to allow Masonic funerals to happen in their churches, so he had the perfect excuse. So we had it at the funeral parlour and it went off without a hitch. The funeral director was in Lodge with my grand-father.

At my grandmother's visitation, the town gossip and weird-lady showed up, marched right down the center of the aisle to the bier, clicked her heels together, saluted, genuflected, bowed at the waist.....and left. Mom's involuntary guffaw was squelched by my aunt who clapped her hand over Mom's mouth, but by the time they'd crab-walked each other outside, they were both in tears from trying so hard not to laugh.

It sounds goulish but I've always loved to prowl through old graveyards. The gravestones they used to make a century and longer ago were real works of art.

Finally, if you want to read an hilarious account of a funeral, pick up a copy of Brendan O'Carroll's "The Mammy." It's in the opening few pages and it's side-splitting comedy of errors.

by Leopoldreply 8010/21/2010

When my aunt died she was to be cremated. However, my mother (who lived out of town) wanted one last look at her (the last conversation they had was an argument and my mother was feeling guilty). My uncle agreed to having his wife laid out at the funeral home for one night.

The funeral home did not put her body in a casket since she was going to be cremated. They placed her on what look like a chaise lounge. They covered her legs with a velvet drape/blanket. It looked like she was taking a nap.

However, it wasn't a chaise lounge that was used. It was actually something like a hospital gurney. Looking at it closer, I could see that her body was strapped to a board and the board was placed at an angle, almost 45 degrees to the flat part (top) of the gurney. The upper part of her body you could see. The lower half of her body was not viewable since it was under the top part of the gurney. The velvet drape that was over her lap went down to the floor so you did not see her legs. To give the illusion that she was reposing on this 'chaise lounge' they put a set of false legs on top of the gurney where you would expect to see them. The velvet drape was placed over these false legs.

So far this might not sound too strange except for one thing.

My aunt was a very tiny woman. She was not even five feet tall. The funeral home probably did not have different sets of false legs so they used the set that they had. The legs made my aunt look like she was almost six feet tall. It looked like someone had put her in one of those middle age torture machines that would stretch a person's body until they would confess.

by Leopoldreply 8110/21/2010

Sorry for your loss, Leopold--I've blocked out a lot of my own mother's visitation and funeral. Nothing funny to report, it was bitter and sad, and the whole affair was my brother, sister, and myself versus a large group of alcoholic rednecks.

by Leopoldreply 8210/21/2010

Couldn't they bend her, R81? My stars, I don't know whether to laugh or cringe.

by Leopoldreply 8310/21/2010

This is a Datalounge legend thread.

by Leopoldreply 8410/21/2010

Yes, her hair was akimbo. Whatever product she had put in it the night before for the wake was still in it and when she passed out, (probably in her car several times before she ever made it to our house,) made it all weird and bent. Not just mussed but almost architectural in it's craziness.

And her eye makeup was all smeared and she had no stockings on and the WORST varicose veins!!

Later that day her 9 year old daughter asked when she would be returning to camp and she answered like this, "Well your Dad is coming back later," takes several huge draws on the bottle of tequila she's been holding, glug glug glug, gasps for air, "so he will drop you off at camp."

My friends were just horrified all through out the post funeral gathering. And to top it all off, after I left the toilet overflowed and ran into the kitchen.

I'd like to think that was my Dad commenting on the events of the day!!

by Leopoldreply 8510/21/2010

Best. Thread. Ever. Condolences...and a HUGE thank you, Leopold.

by Leopoldreply 8610/21/2010

My sympathies to all of you who have lost a loved one, but I've been laughing harder at this thread than I did at the white trash thread.

by Leopoldreply 8710/22/2010

I work in a Funeral Home so some of what I see everyday, though it would raise a few eyebrows, seems pretty commonplace to me.

by Leopoldreply 8810/22/2010

So sorry for your loss, Leopold.%0D %0D When my mother died, she was buried in the plot next to my father, sharing a headstone. My father had been dead for almost 20 years and never got to see any of his 3 daughters get married.%0D %0D The night before my mother's funeral, my sisters and me and our husbands were joking about how my father would have reacted when each one of them came along. My dad wasn't quite Archie Bunker but close. I got married first... to an Italian (our family is Polish). We figured that would have freaked him out a bit. Next my youngest sister married a redneck hillbilly from Arkansas with tattoos up and down his arms. Again, probably not a favorable reaction. The kicker came when my middle sister married... a black man. We all decided dad would have loved the Italian and Hillbilly at that point.%0D %0D For the wake and funeral, my sisters and I got a casket blanket of the lilies my mother loved for her casket. We also ordered a cross be made from the same flowers from the sons-in-law. The funeral home had the cross hanging on the wall next to the casket... all looked lovely.%0D %0D At the cemetary, it was a still day, no wind to be had. The lily blanket was on the casket and the funeral director propped the cross in front of the headstone, on my father's side. %0D %0D Well, not 2 minutes later, on this still day, the cross suddenly fell down with a thud. Most folks gasped, but my sisters and I looked at each other and knew it was dad from the grave saying "get this thing from those guys off of me will you". We all got a chuckle from it, it was so fitting.

by Leopoldreply 8910/22/2010

R14: WTF is wrong w/wearing a NAVY suit? I wore a NAVY suit to my Mom's funeral.

by Leopoldreply 9010/22/2010

When my best friend died several years back, his family decided to ignore his wishes and have another of his "fair weather friends" deliver the eulogy. (He never visited ONCE while my friend had brain cancer)

That day, there was a fierce windstorm and power to the church was cut out. No heat in February in Canada.

By the time the funeral started the wind had abated, but when Mr. Wonderful got up to do his thing and started talking about how close the two of them were and how they were there for each other, a GIANT gust of wind hit the church so bad that we all looked at each other as if the roof was going to fall in on us.

Someone in the same pew a few people down from me said "ok, he is piiiiised off" a little too loud and several of us laughed because we were all thinking the same thing.

Btw, I will try posting some odd things that happen at Funeral homes, but sometimes DL allows me to post and sometimes not. (no I'm not a member)

by Leopoldreply 9110/22/2010

When my great gran died in 2002 she apologised for not dying sooner. They had carved 19-- on her section of the headstone many years earlier when her husband died. She said we should just put 1999+3. She cracked jokes right up until she passed on. I wish I had known her better.

by Leopoldreply 9210/22/2010

Okay lets see:

people wailing on the casket, throwing themselves, on/in it, refusing to let go, sometimes toppling it and the contents onto the floor.

I've seen some people (usually wives or husbands), do what I consider to be inappropriate things to the body of the deceased.

Fights. Have called for police to break up brawls more than once.

People putting odd things in the casket - or filling it with so much crap, you'd think they were looking for a way to clean house. Apparently, some people DO take it with them.

Someone leaving a paper bag of doggy doo in the casket of someone they apparently didn't particularly care for.

While its not unusual for people to take photos of the deceased, please remember that its not a photoshoot-type opportunity.

Open caskets: Most people do it because it gives a better feeling of closure to SEE the deceased in the casket so they really know they are gone. We try to gently persuade to have a closed casket where the deceased cannot look as "natural" as possible or as good as they should, but the family has the final word - and in their emotional state, they do not always make the best decisions - but it's theirs.

by Leopoldreply 9310/22/2010

"I've seen some people (usually wives or husbands), do what I consider to be inappropriate things to the body of the deceased."%0D %0D R88, I love you for sharing this stuff. Please elaborate on this one!%0D %0D

by Leopoldreply 9410/22/2010

Sorry R94, not going to go into too much detail except to say.... We take great care to treat each persons body with a great deal of dignity and respect, even though "they" aren't really there anymore. So it's a little odd to see some of the things people do who have had a close relationship with someone - since the idea of a dead body squicks many people out.

by Leopoldreply 9510/22/2010

Okay, I understand, R88, and I apologize for being disrespectful. I can see laughing at funeral fuck-ups, but there's no reason to disrespect the dead. Mea culpa.

by Leopoldreply 9610/22/2010

r88, I heard the funeral director conventions are fun. You guys are a hoot.%0D %0D I mean that sincerely, you truly know life is limited and love to laugh.%0D %0D thanks for posting.

by Leopoldreply 9710/22/2010

Hugs to you, Leopold, and to R23. %0D %0D My uncle was buried on a blistering day in Queensland, Australia. I guess the grave diggers were keen to head back for a cold beer, as they loudly revved the engine of the digger as the graveside service was being held and started to drive across the cemetary paddock as soon as my tearful aunt had dropped a handful of dirt on poor old Terry's coffin. Made the priest speak very very quickly, as the John Deere bore down on him,%0D %0D I also remember a funeral I attended when I was about 14 for an infant who had died at 2 days of SIDS. The parents had taken a photo and were giving everyone a copy at the door, but as they had maybe not had time to take them of the baby when alive, it was very blue and obviously dead. Quite disconcerting.%0D %0D

by Leopoldreply 9810/22/2010

My beloved grandfather had had a stroke a month before and was still in the hospital. My grandmother, who quite frankly was an attention whore, decided that she wasn't getting enough support from her family (even though someone visited every day and brought her back and forth from home)so when the doctor told her my grandpa probably wouldn't last the day, she started calling everybody up and telling them he had died and boo-hooing all over the place. Problem was, he hung on longer than expected, so she had to backtrack a little when people showed up at the hospital and he was still breathing.%0D %0D He finally died that night and his sister, who was as bad as my grandmother, showed up and the two of them had a competition to see who could wail the loudest. (Grandma won.) They had a rematch at the wake, which my aunt took because Grandma was hoarse from the first contest.%0D %0D My grandmother lived another eight years and all during that time told everyone she met that she had just been widowed to get sympathy.

by Leopoldreply 9910/22/2010

Not my story but an old friend of mine lost his grandfather when he was quite young. His much older sister came home from college for the funeral with her long-haired hippie boyfriend in tow. %0D %0D After the service they all drove to the top of the hillside graveyard for the burial. Midway through the ceremony the parking brake on the scruffy boyfriend's shitbox car popped loose. Several people shouted urgently as the car began freewheeling down the unpaved cemetery lane. The service stopped cold as everyone watched the young man race his car to the bottom of the hill. Catching up to it, he hopped in, fired up the the ignition and peeled out of there, tires squealing, leaving a trail of dust in his wake. %0D %0D Atop the hill his poor abandoned girlfriend withered beneath the glare of her large and stern grandmother who turned to her and declared, "You've RUINED your grandfather's funeral!"

by Leopoldreply 10010/22/2010

Oh my. This is the BEST thread here in a LONG time!

by Leopoldreply 10110/22/2010

Now I'll be late for work, and it was totally worth it. Great stories... some of DL's finest.

by Leopoldreply 10210/22/2010

I went to a funeral for a friend's sisters baby. I didn't really know her that well but went out of respect for the family. When I got there they had an open tiny casket for the pre mature infant. So pre mature in fact that it's liitle face was the color of a cooked beet. One of the most disturbing things that I have ever seen, still can't forget it. I found out later that they had a framed portrait of the little beet in it's casket hanging in their home.

by Leopoldreply 10310/22/2010

On the way to the church, the funeral home lost my dad. The driver of the hearse was new in town and somehow got on a freeway and ended up way out by a racetrack. %0D %0D Later, the family decided we didn't really mind hanging around for a while because our dad enjoyed the races during his retirement years and at least got to make one more tour.

by Leopoldreply 10410/22/2010

.

by Leopoldreply 10510/22/2010

Not as amusing as the other posters, but when my Uncle died he wasn't a member of a synagogue (we're Jewish) and that side of the family wasn't that religious. They got this Rabbi, whom we called the "Rent-A-Rabbi" who was very odd and insisted on referring to my Uncle by his first and middle name is a very dramatic way. Now, I wasn't THAT close to my Uncle but he never used his middle name and always was "SAM", so the fact that he kept referring to him as "SAMUEL GERALD" in a dramatic way, was very odd.

I also remember the funeral home was on one side of the Tappan Zee bridge and the cemetery was on the other. When we got to the toll booths, I guess we were supposed to stay in the one lane as the toll was part of the funeral cost but that wasn't described to us so we swerved out to use EZPass and others followed and it was madness trying to get back into the same lane.

The cemetery happened to border the Metro-North train line so at numerous points during the burial a train passed through which was bizarre.

At the same funeral, a very distant sort of forgotten cousin tried to sell my mother an extra funeral plot she had.

by Leopoldreply 10610/22/2010

R19/62 here. I thought of another one, though it didn't happen to me:%0D %0D My friend's partner, a leather queen, wore full gear to the funeral of my friend's mother. Chaps included. The family were strict Catholics but acted like nothing was unusual. Such is the power of denial.%0D %0D I don't know how he made it safely out to New Jersey on NJ Transit, but he did.%0D %0D

by Leopoldreply 10710/22/2010

My grandparents lived in a small town in upstate NY (Dutchess County). At my grandfather's funeral, many people stopped by and said that they were in the group with him.

My grandfather was involved in three groups in his adult life: town government, the American Legion, and AA. We later learned that there was a lot of overlap between elected officials, veterans and alcoholics. Same people, just a different meeting place on different nights.

by Leopoldreply 10810/22/2010

When my very, very Catholic great-grandmother died the mile-long procession followed the hearse from St. Dominic's in her small town dutifully to the Lutheran cemetery before the driver realized his mistake.

by Leopoldreply 10910/22/2010

Leopold - I am sorry for your loss and what you had to endure. %0D %0D However, this is also one of the best threads in a long time, so thank you.%0D %0D I don't really have any bad funeral stories. However, when my brother-in-laws aunt died, her sister (another aunt) got into a car accident and died. %0D %0D And the sister of a dear friend was in a car accident after their father died and is a paraplegic. %0D %0D I try to make sure now that family members aren't driving their own cars on the day of the funeral.

by Leopoldreply 11010/22/2010

This is why I now avoid funerals at all costs. I've never been to one where something bizarre didn't happen.

by Leopoldreply 11110/22/2010

My father's family could be the dictionary entry for dysfunctional and distant. I have 7 first-cousins (three of whom I have never met, two I last saw in 1967, and the other two in 1980).

My agoraphobic, racist, and bipolar grandmother moved to FL in to live in a nursing home near my aunt for her last years. We'd get an occasional letter/card from them. We learned of my grandmother's death in the annual Christmas newsletter. "March was a rough month. Mom died in on the 8th, and my daughter dropped out of college on the 25th. Still we managed to take a cruise to Bermuda in April for family time." Granted the family was far from close, but it was a shock to learn of a death in a Christmas xeroxed newsletter! Auntie reported that had gone though all of the money, and could not afford a funeral (ashes were spread in the bushes at the hospital where she died). She felt that since there would be no funeral, there was no need to tell anyone of the death. My dad was taken aback, but never expected that little from his sister.

When my Dad was in hospice two weeks before he died, we called his siblings to inform them that he was dying. One called him back to say goodbye, the other did not call at all. Needless to say, none of his birth family came to his funeral.

by Leopoldreply 11210/22/2010

I don't know if this is unfortunate as it was just plain weird. My friend's mother died. She had been part of the Ramtha cult in Washington state, but left to join another group which apparently created great drama.

A few of us went to a memorial event at a hotel. My friend was never a part of the Ramtha group, but had some friends from there. The Ramtha people were the first there, and started dancing to Michael Jackson music. C'mon on! Everybody dance! OK, whatever.

Then members and the guru from his mom's new cult showed up. FRICTION! I thought there was going to be some kind of new age rumble, but the Ramtha people ran away.

The insanity reached it's zenith when the new guru told my friend that he'd been talking to his mom (after she died) and taped it. He asked my friend if he wanted to hear the tapes. Uh, no he replied.

That's when we all ran away.

by Leopoldreply 11310/22/2010

The mother of a family friend was in her 90's and had planned out her funeral long before. So when she died, we all kept waiting for the service/funderal notice that never came. I finally asked my dad what happened to Mrs. Smith's funeral, did I miss it? No, he said, she was very practical, as you know, and decided to forgo the expense of a funeral and gave her body to a medical school nearby.

Okay....

by Leopoldreply 11410/22/2010

In "The American Way of Death" Jessica Mitford said that the open casket funerals was invented in the 19th century by the American funeral industry in order to sell embalming services. The idea that everybody ought to have one last look at the dead body before it's buried was not an American tradition before that.

by Leopoldreply 11510/22/2010

R88, are any of you guys necrophilics? Just wondering.

by Leopoldreply 11610/22/2010

R108 - my dad was a longtime member of AA. The AA folks that came to his wake were wonderful. They actually did a little ceremony, it was nice.%0D %0D We had many people come up to us telling us stories about how he had helped them. There wasn't much about the whole wake/funeral thing that helped me (I found the whole formality uncomfortable - I am shy) but the AA folks made me feel better.

by Leopoldreply 11710/22/2010

The fact of death, the desire for a "good" death surrounded by loving family while acting as a model of suitable courage and detachment, and the look and more of a dead body were all very familiar to Americans prior to the invention of the modern funeral industry.

Bodies were in the house. People looked at them. People made sketches and had portraits done, and took photographs once photography came into existence. Sometime bodies were kept in bed prior to the burial. Sometimes they were placed on couches.

For all of Ms. Mitford's contributions, it simply is not true that people suddenly became enamored of looking at the dead in response to pressure from embalmers. They always looked - these were the faces the loved, and parting is hard.

What changed is that the faces became less dead looking, and presented an idealized view of the living, rather than a grim reminder of the fact of mortality. But people - despite the many who claim otherwise for themselves - still want, and need, to see the body in order to process the complex responses involved in dealing with death.

by Leopoldreply 11810/22/2010

My mother was a homophobic staunch Catholic. At her funeral, we had a gay Episcopal priest do the service. My mother's middle name was Magdalene which she hated being associated with. The priest went on and on about how my mother died on Mary Magdalene's sainthood day and how they were walking hand in hand in heaven right now. She would have died if she hadnt already been dead. The priest also commented on my beautiful two daughters. I have two boys who have long hair and he thought they were girls. No one from my mother's side of the family even showed up for her funeral, and now my dad is moving in with my mom's younger sister.. eww.

by Leopoldreply 11910/22/2010

The night before my father's funeral we held the wake in a sweltering, Gulf Coast funeral home. Dad drowned and wasn't discovered until he'd been in the warm river for several days.%0D (Mother swore the only way she was able to recognize Dad at the coroners was by his abnormally long foreskin.) %0D %0D The funeral director didn't recommend embalming, but assured us the closed casket would contain the rapidly accruing gaseous emanations during the 2 hour wake.%0D %0D The visitors were unaware of the situation and spent some private moments with the casket, as Mother and we children spent our evening outside...hoping that the casket wouldn't explode.

by Leopoldreply 12010/22/2010

My great grandmother's burial plot was in the section of the cemetery that was not perpetual care. Her first husband and first grandchild are buried there. As a child, my grandparents would go with their 3 sons in law once every couple of years and keep the site tended. There was LOTS of kudzu.

When she died in the summer of 1975, it had been a couple of years since the site had been tended. The day before the funeral, some church friends took machetes and cut a path through so the grave could be dug. The morning of the funeral, there was a big rain storm. About an hour before we got to the grave site it stopped raining and the sun came out.

I was a pallbearer, and my place was in the front on the left side. As we walked to the grave site over the slick kudzu leaves, the 2 back pallbearers slipped, but did not fall. The casket lurched forward during this, and all of a sudden the front got noticeably heavier. Me and my cousin across from me never told our grandmother that her mother was more than likely rolled up in a ball at the front of the casket.

by Leopoldreply 12110/22/2010

OP here. Thanks again for sharing your unfortunate experiences.

Last year an elderly acquaintance's mother died. He's a histrionic, self-absorbed, "artistic," certifiably crazy queen who recently decided that his mother being 1/32 Native American qualified him to be a true Indian. Until then his main claim to fame was giving Lorenzo Lamas a blow job. He also blew Jeff Stryker but that seemed less noteworthy.

Despite his mother being a life-long Baptist and never giving much thought about her gr-gr-grandmother, he insisted on having a representative from a local Cherokee group give a sermon full of eagles and setting suns and the Great Spirit. A man with advanced emphysema played some very long and apparently painful Indian flute numbers. The coffin area was decorated with dream catchers and I think a saw a corn doll.

The deceased's son (he's huge) was bedecked in what looked like a muumuu with a wolf pack hand-painted on it. He had more turquoise than a Gallup pawn shop.

A muscle-boy trick of his was in full leather - he also had discovered he's Indian and appeared to have dyed his hair black and had more leather fringe than a Davy Crockett convention. He had grown his hair just long enough to have a tiny tiny ponytail in back. My partner said he had a feather, too, but it fell off.

The rest of the family - Big Chief Mary has three brothers and numerous nieces and nephews - they sat and appeared astonished at the transformation of their mother into a Buffalo Gal. This is in St. Louis, for God's sake.

by Leopoldreply 12210/22/2010

[quote]It sounds goulish but I've always loved to prowl through old graveyards. The gravestones they used to make a century and longer ago were real works of art.

R80, my mom grew up about 50 miles east of Pueblo Colorado in a town called Sugar City. They buried her dad there when he died in 1964 (I think. I was only three and barely remember him.) We went out there about 20 years ago to attend my aunt and uncle's 40th wedding anniversary. We visited the graveyard and it's a tiny plot of land along the side of a road.

Migrant workers have been a big part of the community there and in addition to professionally made headstones there were some made out of cement and some of them had marbles pressed into the cement in patterns, some had them pressed into the shape of a cross.

One other thing was that the ground on some of the graves had sunken in.

by Leopoldreply 12310/22/2010

[quote]Yes, her hair was akimbo.

Like his?

by Leopoldreply 12410/22/2010

[quote]ashes were spread in the bushes at the hospital where she died

WHAT.

[quote](Mother swore the only way she was able to recognize Dad at the coroners was by his abnormally long foreskin.)

DOUBLE WHAT.

by Leopoldreply 12510/22/2010

And another time (wow - there have been a lot of them with the nonfunctioning locals I've known) several of us who went to high school together went to a classmate's grandmother's funeral because she had raised the girl. They were poor and rather backward and we wanted to show some support for her. It was a graveside service, with nothing at the funeral home. We met out in the country cemetery - just a handful of people, very sad - and the hearse arrived and we waited and waited and waited. Someone finally drove up to a gas station to make a call. It turned out the priest had forgotten all about it and we waited another 45 minutes until he got there. Then he rushed through things like he was put out by it.

And another classmate's grandmother (named Easter) arrived at the cemetery for her burial only to have her second husband's family waiting there to announce they were denying her the right to be buried with their father. After a bitter argument with both sides of the family nearly coming to blows, the dead woman's kin got back into their cars and the body went back to the funeral home. It took another three days for them to make other arrangements.

Missourians are take their bitterness to the end and beyond.

by Leopoldreply 12610/22/2010

It was the Border Wars R126. We're still all pissed.

by Leopoldreply 12710/23/2010

My sincerest condolences, Leopold (and R23), but THANK YOU for this thread.

by Leopoldreply 12810/23/2010

At my grandmother's funeral, one of my aunts became increasingly hysterical and tried to leap into the grave (which already contained my grandfather's casket) at the cemetery.

by Leopoldreply 12910/23/2010

I'm from southern Missouri and I just knew r126 was talking about my home state before he even said it.

My dad is buried in a small town in Missouri where the cemetery has hand-painted signs telling people they can't dig up their relatives without permission from city hall.

by Leopoldreply 13010/23/2010

I worked in a club and several years ago it was rented for a funeral. It was just after Halloween and people were somberly listening to the family members and friends one by one at the podium speaking highly of the person who had died. There was an open casket and soft organ music was playing. Much sniffling and quiet sobbing, if you get the picture.%0D %0D Well,some fat lady got up and decided to let some light in the room by opening the curtain. Well, unfortunately, the cleaners forgot to check behind the drapes while cleaning. So when the drapes were moved aside, an authenic-looking full size skeleton screamed loudly- and I mean like a banshee! The fat lady lost it and so did the rest of the people. The sobs for the old guy turned to yells of fright at the vision and sound of the skeleton. %0D %0D I was watching the service from the back with my BF and we were in hysterics. The best funeral ever!

by Leopoldreply 13110/23/2010

At my aunt's funeral, my mother was furious because my grandmother's siblings took charge in arranging what turned out to be a Baptist ceremony, and the vicar talked a lot about religion and people being born into sin. My grandmother was raised very strict Baptist and her siblings still are, but she renounced her faith when she was 16 and later married into an agnostic Jewish family and converted; my mother and aunt, and myself, were all raised 'culturally' Jewish but more or less agnostic/atheist in terms of belief. So the Baptist stuff doesn't go down well. Plus my aunt was born with birth defects which the family blamed on her being born out of wedlock, so my grandmother was very upset by all the 'sin' talk. Oh, and my grandfather wasn't my aunt's biological father (she never said who the father was till her deathbed) and the family objected to my aunt being raised Jewish since her 'dad' wasn't her real father, even though he legally adopted her. Hence the determination to make sure she received a Baptist funeral.

Then when my grandmother died a few years later, all the great aunts and uncle were upset because my mother arranged a Humanist ceremony, rather than a religious one. But being British no one made a scene, apart from one of the great aunts made a fuss about not being able to take food from the wake home for her dog.

My father is an atheist but comes from a religious family. So when he dies (which of course I hope will not be till long in the future) I get to deal with it! Before he had a bypass last year we actually discussed funeral plans 'just in case' and he agreed I should go ahead with a Pagan or Wiccan funeral just to piss off his fundie sister.

by Leopoldreply 13210/23/2010

The posts here also brought to mind my poor cousin's funeral. He was 20, had robbed a store and was chased by the police, and rather than be arrested he put a revolver in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

For some reason his family insisted on an open coffin. Relatives examined him like no other corpse I'd ever seen, and stories of the filler for the back of his head and the extensive work wafted through the room. Despite the care, though, the powder burns on his mouth were apparent and he had the worst case of chapped lips you ever saw on a dead body.

Poor Tim.

by Leopoldreply 13310/23/2010

It was the morning of my father's burial. I (and about 50 people) was sitting in the funeral parlor looking at him, knowing that this was the last time I would ever see him again...all very solemn, sad, very dignified.%0D %0D My brother-in-law walks over to the coffin, does something weird with his hand, puts a can of Budweiser on the lip of the open coffin. He had it up the sleeve of his jacket.%0D %0D I was furious. I spoke to a relative (and good friend) about it. She told me I was over reacting.%0D %0D I want to tell him, Thanks for that last image of my father, you fucking idiot. I will do that to you when you kick the bucket, which will be soon because you are fat, smoke, are pretty miserable, and will probably die before 60...which is only 4 years away for you.

by Leopoldreply 13410/23/2010

When a great aunt died, her daughters decided just to have a graveside service. There had been a viewing the night before at the funeral home. My great aunt had a terrible case of osterprosis, and she was propped up in an unusual way in her casket.

She was to be buried in Oakland cemetery here in Atlanta. Because it was an old cemetery, the hearse could not get close to the grave site. So we schlepped dear old Aunt Annie about 1500 feet from the hearse to her final resting place, with lots of jostling over broken cobblestone walkways. We placed the casket on a bier beside the grave. The eldest daughter went to the funeral director and whispered something to him. It turns out she wanted the casket opened so she could see her mother one more time. We were all appalled, because this is something that just wasn't done in our family.

The funeral director opened the casket, and Aunt Annie had shifted about 18" down off her pillow. The funeral director reached under her shoulders and hiked up back up on the pillow. I wouldn't dare look at any of my cousins for fear I would have burst out laughing. We went back to my grandmother's house and we all just about got hysterical.

On a side note, Aunt Annie is buried about 16 feet from the grave of author Margaret Mitchell.

by Leopoldreply 13510/23/2010

Mine have all been mundane, the dropped casket, the tumbling casket etc.

Biggest shock was my grandmother. Woman died her hair red for all of her 86 years. But during the last couple months of her life she went gray. That was interesting to see.

Now I'm not normally an emotional one at funerals, even at my own mom's funeral when I was 13 I was pretty stone faced.

However two events surrounding my grandmother stand out. The first is meeting the priest who shook everyone's hand but mine.

The other is a reference to the above non-emotional. We're at the mass for my grandmothers funeral and out of the corner of my eye I catch my cousin losing it. That was it for me too. We're both sobbing like idiots.

by Leopoldreply 13610/23/2010

My mother had begun to decompose when she was discovered. We opted out of embalming and planned a closed casket funeral.%0D %0D My brother told my emotionally unstable sister was told that Mom died peacefully in her sleep and looked great, which was only half true. My sister announced her intention of a long, private viewing of Mom.%0D %0D For some reason, my brother refused to tell my sister that the Florida heat had done a number on Mom's body. My brother hastily phoned the funeral home and was told Mom could be veiled and gloved for the visitation, for a fee of $80.%0D %0D When I learned that my brother hadn't informed my unstable sister of the true condition of Mom's body, I hit the roof. Sister would have gone over the edge if she had seen (and possibly smelled) Mom like that. Brother told sister when she arrived and of course, sister was livid that she had been misled initially. She didn't care to view the body.%0D %0D My brother insisted that the wasted $80 fee be divided among the siblings. None of us agreed to pay for his poor judgment.%0D %0D %0D %0D

by Leopoldreply 13710/23/2010

My uncle prided himself on being a self-made man...didn't owe and didn't borrow. Both he and his son worked part-time for a friend's funeral home who provided nice black suits.%0D %0D My uncle basically lost his mind before he died and somehow lost his teeth. Earlier, I had found my dad's dentures in a box and kept them with his things. I gave them to my aunt so my uncle's cheeks wouldn't look empty at his viewing.%0D %0D A couple of weeks after the funeral, my cousin needed his black suit and couldn't find it but soon found his dad's suit hanging in his closet.%0D %0D The uncle who prided himself on never borrowing anything was buried with his brother's teeth and in his son's suit. Bless his heart!%0D %0D Also...A coworker's relative died in Germany and he was the closest relative. He had her cremated and shipped book rate from Germany to NJ because it was the cheapest way to get her body here!

by Leopoldreply 13810/23/2010

As soon as I draw my last breath I want to be cremated. My family and I don't believe in caskets or funerals. My dear father died a few years ago and he was cremated right away with no service whatsoever. That's the way we all wanted it. For those who believe that there is no closure without some kind of service, I have to disagree. We had plenty of closure. Our loving dad was gone and that was all the closure we needed. We had many family gatherings where we spoke of Dad and remembered how precious he was, and still is, to all of us. We have never regretted not seeing him or having his memorial service after he died.

by Leopoldreply 13910/23/2010

my great aunt was a devout church goer. Stern, but loving in her way, passionate about music and her church. My mom had raised me in the United Church, which is very positive, sunny, loving and pro-lgbt. Laughter was not uncommon. We had never made it to my great-aunt's church which was very traditional and protestant.

For YEARS, she complained about a woman at her church who was found of obnoxiously large church hats. Kind of unusual, because it was an all-white church, but there you go. Week after week, my aunt would phone to tell us "well, you'll never guess what ______ had on her head this sunday. I just can't believe someone would wear something so ridiculous in a sacred space. I just hate her and her stupid hats!"

My great-aunt died at age 90, the very last of her 4 sisters who immigrated to Canada from Ireland, beloved in her church community My mom and I went to the funeral, and as we were the closest in the family to her, sat front and center. Literally seconds before her service started, the double doors opened, and my aunt's nemesis from church came in. How did we know it was her? She was wearing a hat went two feet in the air...cherries, birds, flowers, holly, imitation on wires clouds, netting, rhinestones, some barbie heads, ribbons down the back, cocktail umbrellas and the kicker, a great big pineapple on top. Carmen Miranda times a thousand. She sat down right behind us , the service started, and as the minister began to speak in hushed tones about my great-aunt's life, mom and I took one look at each other and started screaming with laughter.

We just could.not.stop, even though we knew how disrespectful it was. What made it worse was that when we started to simmer down, the Hat lady would lean forward to hush us, and in doing so one of the bunches of grapes hanging of her hat would brush against me or Mom and we'd break out all over again. Eventually we had had to get up and leave the room mid-hymn, howling all the way up the aisle.

by Leopoldreply 14010/23/2010

R139, are you Ken from Philly? %0D %0D R134, when that rude fucker dies, take up smoking for the day and use his mouth as an ashtray.%0D %0D I'm sorry for all of you who've had this funny, but tragic funeral experiences.%0D %0D My parents are English and they don't do the open casket thing over there, so I've never seen a loved one in such a state. I've been to open casket funerals here in the US and they are completely bizarre. I just can't understand why people would want to see their loved ones for the last time - dead.

by Leopoldreply 14110/23/2010

"We learned of my grandmother's death in the annual Christmas newsletter."%0D %0D My sister got a Christmas card from a former colleague who wrote at the bottom: "You may not have heard that our precious baby girl was stillborn". %0D %0D Also: when my grandmother died, my mother and aunt unwittingly purchased a grave site that was directly adjacent to the grave of Jimi Hendrix. Groupies and pilgrims would periodically congregate there; they stole flowers from Gram's grave and moved them over to his; they left beer and liquor bottles, guitar picks and occasional joints on his headstone (occasionally Gram received a few as well). %0D %0D After a year of finding hippies partying on top of their mother's sacred burial site drinking and smoking joints, mom and my aunt had Gram dug up and "re-placed" in another part of the cemetary.

by Leopoldreply 14310/23/2010

R142, I'm not a dry drunk, although with such deeply ingrained familial alcoholic patterns of course I have played my part. Al-Anon and other therapy has helped. Family crises - my father died four weeks to the day before my mother, so it has been a time of considerable turmoil - naturally exacerbate people's issues and their coping habits.

And what about you, R142? Are you the family snipe?

by Leopoldreply 14410/23/2010

[quote]so Leopold, you are the dry drunk of the family?%0D %0D Christ, what a mean thing to say, R142. You must be the your family's wet blanket and true dry drunk. Go get another lemon to suck on.

by Leopoldreply 14510/23/2010

Many years ago a friend of a friend of mine, a young woman who has suffered from depression for many years shot herself in the heart with her police officer brother's service revolver. How she got her hands on it I have no idea but if he left it lying around with a severely depressed sister in the house I hope he was fired or sent to prison or something. Anyway, these people were Italian. I had no idea that if a young unmarried woman dies in an Italian family, at least back then, circa 1976 or 77, they dress her up as a bride. It was an open casket. I had never been to a funeral before other than my grandmother's and that wasn't an open casket. %0D %0D I was quite young and curious to see a dead body and went to look. I was so shocked to see her dressed up as a bride that I let out a little scream. I didn't know this dead girl or her family so they all looked at me and clearly from the look on their faces the mourners were thinking, "Who the hell is that!"%0D %0D That aside this poor girls family was a piece of work. Her mother and grandmother kept rushing up to the casket, stroking her face or hair crying hysterically and then rushing back to their seats to be comforted by the others. Then several of what seemed to be aunts and uncles had no idea how old the dead girl was. They each kept saying how sad she was only 19. How sad she was only 21. How sad she was only 20. The girl's mother and grandmother never corrected them. It was just plain odd.%0D %0D I don't know if it's true by my friend told me afterward that they dressed her up as a bride because everyone is supposed to assume she was a virgin and now she could be the bride of Christ throughout eternity. If that's true, pretty sick if you ask me. I wondered how Italian families dressed a young girl who died that everyone knew was neighborhood slut.%0D

by Leopoldreply 14610/23/2010

R27, I've never heard of a wake (or viewing) called a "visitation" before, lol. I'd hate to have a visitation from a recently departed individual!%0D %0D LOL R31, reminds me of my uncle's funeral procession.%0D %0D Anyway, a good friend's mother passed, and I attended her wake. I'm not very religious, and the process seemed very drawn out and very (Roman?) Catholic. First my friend dragged me to see his mom's body. I'd only met the lady a handful to times over the years and I liked her well enough--but I really didn't want to see her waxy remains.%0D %0D Then, we waited forever for the priest to finally show up, then there was a lot of verse reading (espiritus santos (sic), blah, blah, blah)...and a lot of standing, sitting, kneeling. The proceedings were capped-off by the priest (trailing altar boys) swinging a smoking incense burner down the isle and out the funeral home...goodness, It was exhausting.%0D %0D I know, I know. I should be ashamed, lol, but I had a two hour train ride back home!

by Leopoldreply 14710/23/2010

OMG, R148, that is so funny. I actually have tears down my cheek from laughing. Good one!

by Leopoldreply 14910/23/2010

The dressing of young women as brides still happens today in some southern European families. Canadians may remember the death of Vivi Leimonis...she was buried in a wedding dress. I remember talking about that with my sister, it creeped us both out. When my sister died a few years later, some old-world relatives assumed we would bury her in a wedding dress -- but there was no way that was going to happen.

by Leopoldreply 15010/23/2010

My family had a "Mystery Woman in Black" show up at my uncles funeral. She claimed to be his wife but he never mentioned that to us.

Back in the mid70's my classmates and I were on a school bus trip to the beach. We were all singing and having a fun time when a big Mafia funeral procession came by. It must have had 20 limos and huge floral arrangements on the hearse. Of course we all stopped singing and showed proper reverence to the dearly departed, then resumed singing after it was a decent distance past us.

by Leopoldreply 15110/24/2010

When my great-aunt, who was the matriarch of the family after my grandmother, died, we had family members who had traveled long distances to attend the funeral and quite a few of them took photos of her lying in the coffin. I've heard of death photos but it was creepy to see.

by Leopoldreply 15210/24/2010

R140--%0D %0D Your story made me laugh 'til I cried. I LOVE happy funerals. My father had a great sense of humor and scores of people related their memories of things that had made him laugh. It was the best memorial we could have hoped for.

by Leopoldreply 15310/24/2010

[quote]I've heard of death photos but it was creepy to see.

My dad's family was all hillbilly (it's the family buried in the cemetery with signs saying you need permission to dig up dead relatives). Grandma kept the weirdest souvenirs from dead relatives: Her 350-pound mother's corset with a hernia pouch sewn in, boxes of hair, gold teeth yanked out of the dearly departed, and death photos. Had one of her aunt taken moments before she died after giving birth in 1908. The whole story was written on the back of the photo. It was the saddest thing I've ever seen.

by Leopoldreply 15410/24/2010

The Christmas card message mentioned by r143 reminded me of one a client I support received from his auntie:%0D %0D "Merry Christmas, Marc, nan's dead. xx"%0D %0D

by Leopoldreply 15510/24/2010

Not a funny story, but one of the reasons there should be closed caskets:

When my stepmother died, my father couldn't afford to have her embalmed. I think it was a few days after she died that he had her funeral- I guess things start liquefying and gravity started pulling things down- she looked like Jabba the Hut or the Mother character in Brazil that gets a face lift in the beginning.

My Dad kept on saying, "It doesn't look like her".

by Leopoldreply 15610/24/2010

Intresting R156. When my dad died in '91 I was told I had to have him enbalmed if I planned to have a viewing but I didn't have to if we weren't planning a viewing. My other relatives would have died without a viewing. %0D %0D It's hard for me to imagine no casket, no viewing and no funeral. I have never known anyone who was cremated or didn't have a funeral but some who were mangled or whatever have had closed caskets.%0D %0D According to my stepdad, if you touch the body you won't dream of the person. I always touch the person's hand.

by Leopoldreply 15710/24/2010

[quote] According to my stepdad, if you touch the body you won't dream of the person. I always touch the person's hand.%0D %0D That's weird, R157. I touched my grandmother and mother and rarely dreamed about them after their deaths. I did not touch my father (it was a closed casket) and I dreamed about him almost obsessively for years afterward. A psychologist suggested that this was because I had not seen his dead body and so on some level didn't believe he was really dead.%0D %0D R147, "visitation" is fairly common in the Midwest. I think it is in rural areas of the South, too. It's more frequently heard in rural areas or isolated small towns.

by Leopoldreply 15810/24/2010

I didn't touch my aunt and I still had a dream about her not long after she passed. She looked younger in the dream and in a place I didn't recognize.

by Leopoldreply 15910/24/2010

A ex-friends daughter had died of an overdose.

My friend, in all honesty wasn't a great mom. She did all the things she was supposed to do, and she loved her kid but was incredibly critical, cold, and uneven in her treatment of her child, and I credit her with her kid becoming an addict.

The daughter had a child about 2 years prior to her death.

Anyway, at the funeral, my friend stood next to the coffin and took pics with family members.

The kid was there and wanted to know why mommy was asleep. My friend told her "Mommy is dead and isn't coming back."

The daughters druggie friends showed up and my friend started screaming that they killed her child.

My friend and her husband adopted the grandchild (the kids father gave up his parental rights when the kid was born) and are raising her as their own.

My friend said "Now I have a 2nd chance to do it right."

Last time I saw her, she was treating her kid/grandkid exactly the same way she treated her kid. I expect a similar outcome, sadly.

by Leopoldreply 16010/24/2010

Thanks to this thread, I'm going to leave explicit instructions that I am to be cremated, no service is to be held, and my ashes are to be dumped in the Rocky Mountains, where I have spent many pleasant hours.

by Leopoldreply 16110/24/2010

My Uncle George lost his lovely, bright young wife after childbirth. She had healthy twins - her first pregnancy - but her kidneys failed. She was laid out (such a term) on Mother's Day and it was the grief of all griefs in the family. Germans.

Tanta Derda in her long black dress was trying to explain to my deaf great grandmother how she was fighting her arthritis. I a hushed moment in the overcrowded, stifling parlor of tear-stained mourners a bass Teutonic voice erupted like a volcano:

"Ahhhb-zoooor-beeen Yooooo-nyoooorrrrr!!!"

Mass hysteria.

by Leopoldreply 16210/24/2010

"The proceedings were capped-off by the priest (trailing altar boys) swinging a smoking incense burner down the isle and out the funeral home..."%0D %0D Darling, love the dress but your purse is on fire.%0D %0D Carry on!

by Leopoldreply 16310/24/2010

[quote]swinging a smoking incense burner down the isle....

It's AISLE dammit! A! I! S! L! E!

by Leopoldreply 16410/24/2010

And I believe the correct quote was "Darling, I love the drag, but your purse is on fire"

by Leopoldreply 16510/24/2010

The guy on the right was the mortician for my nephew's funeral.

by Leopoldreply 16610/24/2010

Oh my god, R166! I can't believe such a think exists. This is hysterical!

Is your nephew's mortician Kenneth McKenzie?

by Leopoldreply 16710/24/2010

When my grandmother died, one of my cousins (who is 5 days younger than me), went up into the bathroom at the funeral home with his sisters and got high. He then decided that since there is safety in numbers, that the wake would be the perfect time to tell his parents he had dropped out of college months ago, had been living in their summer house on the Cape, and had been working as a fisherman.

His mother is a severe alcoholic, and this did not go down well.

by Leopoldreply 16810/24/2010

[quote]"Ahhhb-zoooor-beeen Yooooo-nyoooorrrrr!!!"

I love you, R162.

by Leopoldreply 16910/24/2010

R151: Mafia funerals are the best! They come from all over to pay respects. You never knew you had such "family" members.

I know it well. My mom died when I was 13 and yes, my father was in the mob. She's buried in a cemetery favored by Italian Americans and mobsters along with the rest of the family.

by Leopoldreply 17010/24/2010

I'm with r161

by Leopoldreply 17110/24/2010

What I find unfortunate are the numbers of people who are cremated and no-one ever comes to claim the ashes.

We've had dozens of boxes of cremains that have gone unclaimed for years.

Also kind of disappointed for the guys of the the Men of Mortuaries calendar. Its only $3.95.

by Leopoldreply 17210/24/2010

My friend was nerviously waiting in line at a wake to view the body in the casket. He was so nervous that he was rubbing the matches in his pocket. Somehow he lit a match and set his pants on fire. His wife noticed his smoking pocket and started to yell at him because he started smoking after having quit for a long time.

by Leopoldreply 17310/24/2010

You're right, R172. Our elderly next-door neighbor's ashes sat unclaimed for two years by her son. She and we were friends and my partner and I were pallbearers. She left the fool with tons of money and real estate, but he was immature (at 60), half-crazy and irresponsible.

One day I was mowing the lawns and just had it. I went in, called the funeral home (I just KNEW he hadn't taken care of it - she had told us she wanted her cremated remains to be buried on her mother's grave) and I said I was a friend of the family and I was coming over. They gave me the cremains, which were in a box wrapped in silver anniversary paper. I put them on a chair in our living room, put our dog's ashes' container on the floor by the chair, and when my partner came home I said, "You'll never guess who's here."

We were told how much (!) opening the grave would be by the cemetery people, so one winter night we drove over to the cemetery and my partner dug while I served as look-out. After a prayer we left - and it felt good to have completed her request, finally. We told family members "we took care of things," not that they were concerned.

by Leopoldreply 17410/24/2010

Maybe this is the opposite of an "Unfortunate Funeral" story ... I went to a small high school. At our 25th reunion we found out that a classmate of ours had been killed in an auto accident. She was from a very poor family and they were having a garage sale to raise money for her funeral. We took up a collection at the reunion and raised enough to pay for the funeral. In the weeks that followed more money was collected to purchase a headstone and about 20 of us went to a graveside service to set the headstone. Her family was very moved.

Now ... we did all of this because this poor woman was the school pariah. In grade school it was determined that she was the bottom of the totem pole and she was relentlessly picked on and bullied until she dropped out in the 10th grade. We were assuaging our collective guilt. Some of us were guilt of bullying. Some of us were guilty of cowardice.

The graveside service was beautiful. Several people said kind things about the deceased - no one said a word about the bullying or about the "real" reason we were there. As far as her family knows - we were all friends and did what we did out of love for the deceased.

This is one situation where I think the ends justifies the means. So what if we were assuaging our guilt? Her family was able to give their daughter/sister a funeral; she has a lovely headstone; and they have the memories of a sweet memorial service.

We'll never know whether or not she forgave us. We certainly didn't deserve it. I don't think that paying for the funeral and headstone bought us a pardon. We have to find a way to forgive ourselves, and to make sure our kids are better people than we were.

by Leopoldreply 17510/24/2010

This thread is absolutely fascinating.

by Leopoldreply 17610/25/2010

When my great uncle died, he had left instructions that there was to be no funeral service. But he had been well-loved, and his widow and son decided that a service was for the living, not the dead, and scheduled a funeral anyway.

Just before the service, as people were arriving, parking, milling about and settling in, a major earthquake struck, causing widespread damage. Houses were knocked off foundations and some buildings destroyed.

My great aunt said, "Well, if he feels THAT strongly about it, I guess we'll have to cancel the damned thing."

by Leopoldreply 17710/25/2010

I am really enjoying this thread. Not sure how unfortunate these are but:%0D %0D One of my great-uncles was a bit of a lad, and died unmarried, penniless and childless. At his funeral, a number of strangers showed up. When approached and asked how they knew the deceased, it turned out they were his kids! No-one in the family had any idea and these people ranged in age from 40-ish to late teens. It made for quite a scandal.%0D %0D One of my aunts had to be physically removed from my great-aunt's funeral earlier this year after her howling drowned out the priest. %0D %0D

by Leopoldreply 17810/25/2010

I don't get R162's post - could someone please explain?

by Leopoldreply 17910/25/2010

I was at a graveside service for an in-law where some idiots actually brought their dog along. And it's not as though the dog was a family pet or beloved by the deceased. They just take the dog everywhere it seems. The funeral director told them the dog would have to stay in the car where he proceeded to howl and bark through the entire service until the funeral director finally asked them to leave which they did with none too good grace. Whatever were they thinking?

by Leopoldreply 18010/25/2010

Absorbine Jr with a German accent.%0D %0D You're welcome.

by Leopoldreply 18110/25/2010

Years ago, I was at a funeral for the mother of a woman who was a classmate of mine at university. The service was held at an old church in downtown Toronto and it was in Ukrainian. %0D %0D None of us from school could understand a thing that was being said but it was very sad and somewhat startling at times. It was an open casket and at several points during the service, a family member would come up to the casket and throw their arms around the body while wailing in grief. %0D %0D After one of the longest hours I've ever endured we were gathered outside the church waiting for the family to leave for the cemetery. The casket was loaded in the hearse and the immediate family was waiting to get into the limos.%0D %0D Suddenly, the hearse started to pull away from the curb very slowly. We thought that was odd because the family wasn't ready and as the hearse picked up speed we could see the funeral home guys start to get into a tizzy. More velocity and the funeral home guys start chasing the hearse. There was NO driver.%0D %0D One guy caught up to it but the passenger door was locked. To this point, the vehicle had been going straight down the street and managed to get safely through a busy intersection. All of a sudden it veered left and hopped the curb up on to the sidewalk. %0D %0D %0D The hearse then crashed into our local drug store where the coffin flew out of the hearse the top opened up and the corpse said to the druggist " Ya got anything to stop this coffin'?"

by Leopoldreply 18210/25/2010

This isn't unfortunate, but kind of awkward. My ex sister-in-laws memorial service was Saturday. The minister met with my brother and his family to find out what kind of stories he could tell about her.

She was not the "vivacious" or out going type. Rather dull, actually. There were a lot of "Uh. Er. Um's."

This guy managed to put together one of the most moving services I've ever been to. Talk about pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

by Leopoldreply 18310/25/2010

In the old days (into the 1960s) families would have to dig the graves for their family members' burials "down in the country" in Texas County, Missouri. People dreaded a winter death, and when cousin Billy died the funeral had to be postponed a while because the frozen ground was just too hard to dig through with the usual speed.

There was something immediate and intimate about performing this service. Not that anyone enjoyed the labor - that ground is rocky.

by Leopoldreply 18410/26/2010

Some of these stories are cracking me up guys. OP sorry about your experience. I hate funerals and think they are a big waste of money. I went to a celebration of life for a neighbor who died from cancer that I thought was quite nice. He stipulated the place and left a sum of money solely for food, drink and a band. They had pictures on a tv of his life, a nice band in the background and a venue on the water. A little bit sad, as all of them are, but no where near as depressing as standing around an open hole in ground. I think he was cremated and possibly had a service for immediate family.

by Leopoldreply 18510/26/2010

More, please!

by Leopoldreply 18610/26/2010

I'm the OP and as the thread appears to die its own natural death I'd like to say again how much I've enjoyed what people have shared. As a memento mori - please recall I'm someone whose parents both died within a month of each other when I first posted - one more post, not about a funeral but about my parents' honeymoon. It rather fits.

They stayed at my uncle's cabin in the Ozarks, and it was deep country at the time. The place had figured a half century or so before - now a century ago - in a mass murder that thrilled the county, with an entire local family killed and dumped in the Big Piney River by a hired hand as they started to head west. The bodies were found by the judge and sheriff fishing, and they dragged the kids and parents up the hill to the cabin and laid them out on the beds there for the post mortems and the ghoulish excitement.

So that was where my parents spent their honeymoon, and for years we would vacation there and as kids we would all lie sleepless in horror thinking about those dead wet bodies on what we knew (WE KNEW) were those same beds in that creepy old cabin.

Then I found a book with mortuary photos of the dead, and was astonished to see photos of the dead family in the cabin in the book! Lined up dead and bloated in a bed like sardines. I took it to my mother, laughing all the way, figuring I'd get my revenge after all those terrible nights of owls and mice and things creeping about in the woods. And she looked at the photo and said, "Oh. isn't that wonderful? Our honeymoon suite. Such wonderful memories. Can I keep this to show your father?"

Bye, Mom and Dad.

by Leopoldreply 18710/26/2010

I *heart* Leopold.

by Leopoldreply 18810/27/2010

[quote]And she looked at the photo and said, "Oh. isn't that wonderful? Our honeymoon suite. Such wonderful memories. Can I keep this to show your father?"%0D %0D Good God.

by Leopoldreply 18910/27/2010

Leopold, you seem like a very decent person. %0D %0D You will be shat upon here at DL because you authenticate. It's a shame, but it's the DL way.%0D %0D Don't let it hurt you, and don't change!

by Leopoldreply 19010/27/2010

Sending you a hug Leopold.

by Leopoldreply 19110/27/2010

Awwww (((Leopold))). Thanks for starting what will be considered one of DL's legendary threads. And I mean that in a good way.

by Leopoldreply 19210/27/2010

Best wishes to you, Leopold. After my mother died three years ago I learned that we never really lose those we love most. They become a part of us and stay within our hearts forever.

by Leopoldreply 19310/27/2010

at my best friend's mother's funeral, one of his brothers spoke about how proud his mom would have been to know that he had finally overcome his substance abuse issues, having been sober for 6 months due the intervention of jesus christ and mother mary, and kept speaking about his struggles with sobriety in more and more convoluted and incoherent ways for what seemed like an eternity. even his half-blind and completely deaf father knew he was high as a kite on crystal meth at that point,and he had to be forcibly removed from the podium.

by Leopoldreply 19410/27/2010

This is not exactly a funeral story, but a friend of mine bumped into an acquaintance and found out that she was the keeper of the ashes of a woman who had been very cruel to his mother. He finagled a visit to her house, grabbed the urn, high-tailed it into the bathroom and flushed the ashes down the toilet. True story...

by Leopoldreply 19510/27/2010

my friend steven's memorial was held poolside at the chateau marmont with a full bar and DJ, followed by a reception in one of the private bungalows. we toasted to his memory and to his chicness, and it eventually turned into a rather raucous party. i ending up doing coke and making out with a total stranger in the bathroom for a good portion of the evening. i knew wherever steven was, he was smiling because it was *exactly* what he would have wanted.

cheers, steven.

by Leopoldreply 19610/27/2010

I know I shouldn't be laughing so hard r103, but that was just hysterical.

by Leopoldreply 19711/02/2010

When I was a kid a baby in our church died and my parents attended the funeral.I didn't have to go since I was so young and my mom thought I would have nightmares.%0D %0D Anyway,my parents came home and were horrified at the appearence of the dead baby. Apparently the mortuary did a terrible makeup job on the tyke, making him look like a scary little clown. Mom said there was bright red lipstick on the lips with some kind of white pancake makeup on the tiny face. To add insult to injury, not only was the baby wearing a makeshift red-lipped grotestesque grin, but was propped up in a sitting position with a rattle glued to his little hand. Mom says she almost fainted when she saw him and couldn't understand that his parents would let the baby be displayed like this.%0D %0D Thanks Mom for the vivid description. I had nightmares that night.

by Leopoldreply 19811/03/2010

[quote]I was at a graveside service for an in-law where some idiots actually brought their dog along.%0D %0D I've driven by the graveyard near my house a few times and spotted my cat, a big, plump fellow always eager to share his company with any and all, attending graveside services, a shock of tabby orange among the bereaved in black.

by Leopoldreply 19911/03/2010

Cremation is the only way to go!

by Leopoldreply 20011/23/2010

Bump

by Leopoldreply 20112/20/2010

My story is not nearly as good as some of these, but when my Dad died, my Mom sent my brother and I to pick out a burial outfit for him from his closet. He'd been retired for a while, so all of his suits and business clothes were a bit out of date.

We picked the nicest one he had, and pinky-swore that we'd never tell anyone he was buried in flares. We figured no one else would know since only the top half of the casket was open...

by Leopoldreply 20212/20/2010

bump

by Leopoldreply 20312/21/2010

My grandmother's funeral was held in an A-framed chapel which also served as the crematorium. Instead of a steeple, there was a big nasty square chimney. After her coffin lowered into the floor we walked out to a view of belching black smoke. A windy day, I fear I got some of her smuts on me. It was like Auschwitz with hymns.

by Leopoldreply 20412/21/2010

OP here - I noticed the thread had been bumped, and as a matter of fact I have attended two unfortunate funerals this month.

The first was for the brother of friends of mine - I've been close to the whole family for over 30 years except for him, as he was the black sheep who stayed away from most of the family functions (Sicilian old-time traditional family). He was arrested two months ago for rape of a teen girl, and was in the news for holding a SWAT team at bay threatening to kill himself at the comic book store he owned (!). The family insisted he had dumped the girl's mother and she demanded monthly payments or she'd accuse him of molesting her daughter when she was younger. And that's what she did. SO her sister and boyfriend took him to a park and killed him for revenge. Notorious case all over the news - "Accused rapist allegedly killed by abused girl's family members." The wake was horrid - no one would go near the coffin, there were two small poinsettias, he was crammed into a burner-box (cremation coffin), comic book readers wandered in, and police detectives were oddly placed around. Worst vibes ever. The Italian family was both mortified and enraged. And they quietly mentioned to me that they had heard the accused murdered, the sister, "had disappeared that morning and the police have no idea what happened to her." Chills. And since then nothing on arrests.

The second funeral was this week. A friend of my partner and I - alcoholic ex-cop with suppressed closet issues but devoted to family - and his wife and ordered their 20-year-old son out of the house as a way to spur his self-reliance. He got a job and shared an apartment. And he was shot to death in a home invasion. The funeral was packed, and his father held on to my partner and me at the coffin, talking and talking, patting and caressing the body (the body was not in good shape from trauma and autopsy, and was pushed crooked in the coffin from all the tender touching from his dad) and weeping. It was horrible and harder than anything I've ever experienced at a funeral. His wife and other son (a third son died in a fire last year) were standing there shocked and a throng of cops and kids and family members and church people - hundreds - were swirling all around. And the father wouldn't let the body go. Caps and balls and cards and mementos were stuffed into the box - Lord.

Sorry to go on. But to be at the wakes for two murder victims so close together, with such contrasts, was very affecting.

by Leopoldreply 20512/23/2010

My dad's funeral was the day before my university graduation. He also died the day before Father's Day.%0D %0D At the cemetery when the pallbearers were suppose to lower the casket one of the three ropes slipped, so instead of 6, there were 4 lowering it. I spent the longest minute praying that the 4 didn't lose their grips and let my father's casket fall infront of my mother. Thank God my one cousin in construction was on the heavy end.%0D %0D I actually went to my graduation. It was a bad idea but I think my mother really, really wanted a happy event, and she told me my dad had been looking forward to it. I had a melt down over forgeting my confirmation paper to attend and when one of the attendants asked if I was alright I said "No, my dad's died" and cried infront of everyone. I'm just glad my mother hadn't seen that part.

by Leopoldreply 20612/23/2010

omg, this is wonderful! Thank you all, and Happy Festivus!

by Leopoldreply 20712/23/2010

I'm the last person in my family to remember the stories of my great-grandfather's funeral. The old house had grates in the ceilings of some rooms in the first floor to carry heat to second-floor bedrooms. An old German aunt, housed in the bedroom over the kitchen, was readying for the funeral as most of the family was breakfasting in the dining room and people were moving back and forth to the kitchen. Tante broke her favorite strand of pearls, and one by one they ran down the string into the chamber pot, echoing plink plink plink, as an old Teutonic voice wailed like a Valkyire through the house "Mein Schone Poooiiillllzzzz."

by Leopoldreply 20812/24/2010

Bump

by Leopoldreply 20902/24/2011

Leopold, I'm so sorry for your loss. But you have given us one of the best threads in a long time. I'm up past my bedtime because I can't stop reading.

by Leopoldreply 21002/24/2011

My mother always used to say that she admired the Jewish people for their burial customs which she felt made a lot of sense (and I agree). Closed casket, in the ground as soon as possible. No embalming. No make-up job on a dead face. So that is what I arranged for her when she died.

Both sides of the family, including my father%E2%80%99s relatives who are Sicilians and therefore Catholics, but of widely varying degrees, had no problem with it.

The only problematic %E2%80%9Cguest%E2%80%9D I encountered was a woman whom I didn%E2%80%99t know, but looked to be in about her late sixties or early seventies . When she first entered the room of the funeral parlor where my mother was, I assumed she was someone from the senior citizens%E2%80%99 club my mother belonged to but whom I%E2%80%99d never met. I began to walk over to thank her for coming and then to introduce myself. But as soon as she was about ten feet from the coffin, she made an abrupt about-face and made a beeline for the door. I got to her just as she was about to exit and said, %E2%80%9CThank you for coming. I%E2%80%99m...%E2%80%9D She cut me right off by saying, with pure venom in her voice, %E2%80%9CIt%E2%80%99s a [italic]closed[/italic] casket!%E2%80%9D

I then saw her walk off and go into all the other rooms to see the bodies lying in caskets -- with open lids, I suppose, because she didn%E2%80%99t exit anywhere near as quickly from any of them as she did the room my mother was in.

I%E2%80%99ve heard about people like her whose (for lack of a better word) %E2%80%9Chobby%E2%80%9D is going to funeral homes to see the bodies. I continue to wonder what it is that drives some people to do that.

by Leopoldreply 21102/25/2011

I'll be using the line "It's a closed casket!" with a hiss and a snarl, R211. Thanks!

by Leopoldreply 21202/25/2011

My father disappeared and we had some evidence he committed suicide, but we didn't have a body. It was an insane situation. His brother is a priest and decided to have a funeral. We had a funeral with my uncle and the archbishop at the alter, but no body to bury. It was surreal, to say the least.

by Leopoldreply 21302/25/2011

bump

by Leopoldreply 21406/16/2013

Who the fuck is bumping these old threads?

Really, R214? You felt it necessary to bump a two year old thread for what reason?

by Leopoldreply 21506/16/2013

Been there OP. When my grandmother died one of my female cousins who had become a raging alcoholic was prancing around during the wake having a grand ol' time, until the need for a drink came over her and she would immediately break out into a raging fit of crying and mourning and run from the funeral home into the parking lot. Of course she was running to her vehicle where she had her fifth of bourbon stashed. She come back inside in about 20 minutes all giggles and fun again, reeking of course.

Dumb bitch died from cirrhosis less than a year after that day.

by Leopoldreply 21606/16/2013

"It sounds goulish but I've always loved to prowl through old graveyards. The gravestones they used to make a century and longer ago were real works of art"

R80 - if you get the chance, go to Canongate and Greyfriars Churchyards in Edinburgh or Highgate in London...

You just get struck by how many people died young, and how WHOLE FAMILIES were wiped out in the space of a few days or weeks...

by Leopoldreply 21706/16/2013
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