Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

April 27, 2014

SEIBERT: Reflections on a funeral

Mineral Wells Index


Wikipedia tells us, “A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, respecting, sanctifying or remembering the life of a person who has died.”

When we attend a funeral, we usually do it because we cared for the person who died and we want to join with others who also cared for that person so that we can celebrate his or her life and console each other that, for a little while, we will not see that person.

As I told you last week, my precious uncle, widower of my father’s youngest sister, died, and we – Carolyn, Christi, Joey, Raf and I – attended his funeral out in West Texas.

In a much earlier column I told you, upon his turning 90, what a blessing he had been to me and to all of his family. That was so very true.

In my opinion funerals are a time of mourning and rejoicing. Mourning for the loss of someone so dear who we will miss in this life but rejoicing that he or she is no longer in pain and has gone ahead of us to be with Jesus and with other family members already there. I felt my uncle joined his parents, my parents and my aunt in celebration!

Funerals are a time of reflection about the person who has died. They are filled with tears and laughter, as those who are left behind remember their loved one. And while a funeral should be a Christian service, in my opinion, it should also be solely about the person who is gone – about his life and about all those times when he touched other lives.

No so, this funeral. It was all about the new and recent widow, the second wife, the woman who stood there when we entered, happily reviling in the joy she appeared to be having. Before the funeral she spoke to everyone about herself and how much fun she was having, about how she had worked in a funeral home and therefore knew everything about everything. She, not the funeral director, lined all the supposed family up to march us into the church, with her family, not his, following her and his son into the chapel.

Interestingly in the obituary printed on the leaflet for the service, all of her family was mentioned by name while the newly deceased’s family was skimmed over, and it was obvious as the first of two preachers took the stage that she had not spoken to him at all, period. I don’t believe she had ever met the man. As he was reading the obituary, he mispronounced the first and last name of my daddy’s sister and the first name of the only living son’s wife. Then he mentioned that he did not know any of them. Where in the world did she dig him up?

Then as came time for sort of private and personal remembrances and the only person on the program was one of my uncle’s step-granddaughters who had known him less than 30 years, while many of us had known him, and loved him, for more than 70 years! From what she said, I would say she didn’t know him at all.

Finally the widow got up and talked at length about herself. There was hardly a mention of my uncle in the whole service, and when they mentioned his service during World War II, they said he was in the Air Force – of course, there was no Air Force until after that war. He was in the Army Air Corps. My immediate family concluded, not a tear on any of our faces, that we had just witnessed “the (name of widow) show.” The only sadness we felt was that while we had come to celebrate my uncle, we were not allowed.

I have heard of other unsettling things that have happened at funerals, like the time my friend and his family came back from the burial to find that one of the other cousins had packet up and carted off all the grandparents’ possessions.

It just beat me to understand people! It really beats me!