No Funeral, No Obit

I was shocked when two friends told me that, after they die, they didn’t want a funeral or an obituary. I’ve since come to realize that this is part of a nationwide trend (see “Honoring the Wishes of Those Who Didn’t Want a Funeral,” in Next Avenue), although I’m still not clear why.

Growing up, funerals were a part of my family’s life. They weren’t just a ritual of mourning but a way of maintaining and even strengthening the fabric of our family and community. I still vividly remember my grandparents’ funerals. They were preceded by two nights of wakes, where friends and family members showed up at the church to view the body and to offer comfort to the family.

On the day of the funeral, we would drive past my grandparents’ home, as a final farewell to the place they spent most of their lives, before proceeding to the church, where hundreds of people—family members, coworkers, neighbors, friends, fellow church members—would be lined up in the pews. The priest, who knew my grandparents and family well, would give a long eulogy, after which we would proceed to the cemetery and the family plot, marked by a large granite stone.  

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