Last week my grandpa died and Saturday I attended his funeral. No one is a fan of funerals, but in the past year, I’ve attended two and decided that when I die, I don’t want a funeral.
The thing that I hated most about my grandpa’s funeral, other than the obvious, was that not only did the minister not know my grandpa, he kept on asking me and my family to thank “God” for him. What I don’t understand is why I would thank “God” when “God” (if he exists) is the one that took him from us.
Everyone attending a funeral is already upset because they lost someone dear to them. So instead of mourning the death of a loved one, why not celebrate their life?
I would rather have my friends and family tell their favorite story about me than have some stranger that doesn’t know me say something about me.
I know when someone loses a dear friend or family member, they want to be comforted — everyone does. But that doesn’t mean they want to be comforted by religion. I know that I didn’t on Saturday. There are quite a few religious people in the world, but what about the ones that aren’t?
The most comforting thing about the funeral on Saturday wasn’t the religious singing, the readings from the Bible or the minister asking me to thank “God.” It was the stories that my family told about my grandpa.
My cousin, Donna, wrote a letter for my great uncle Jesse to read. She talked about how she would always play cards with him and my cousin Jolee and how he would always lose.
Then, after losing, he would always accuse them of cheating. She then went on in her letter to confess that she never cheated, but Jolee did.
This story made me laugh because I knew that if my grandpa lost at cards, whether it was on purpose or not, he would accuse us kids of cheating. That’s just who he was.
The other thing that comforted me was when Jesse talked about how my grandpa would give this thumbs-down hand gesture all the time to everyone in the family. It’s hard to explain what it looked like, but we’ve all tried to perfect our own version of it. Jesse demonstrated a pretty good one up at the microphone. It made the ones who knew what it was laugh and nod in agreement with what he said.
Jesse went on to talk about how my grandpa would always leave his cell phone on while golfing, which everyone knows is bad etiquette and it drove me crazy. But hearing that he left it on just in case one of his children or grandchildren needed him was a great feeling.
After this weekend, even though it’s a long ways off, I know that’s what I want at my funeral. I want my friends and family to laugh, not cry. I want them to be uplifted by all the stories they hear, not depressed by bad songs.
I want people to celebrate my life, what I did and who I was, not dwell on how I died. By doing it this way, I think it will be easier for those who loved me to get on with their lives and to also tell a funny, most likely inappropriate story about me.
Remembering the good things about my grandpa will help me get through this, not religion.