Funeral For A Friend

Funerals have dominated the news recently, and it has been very sad. Yes, we have lost big names such as Aretha Franklin and Sen. John McCain, but what’s even sadder is the way that their funerals played out. Silly me. I thought that funerals were supposed to be about the dearly departed and to celebrate his or her life. Alas, funerals today are merely one more stage for political agendas to be aired and societal flaws to be showcased.

Funerals I attended in the past were solemn occasions. Okay, I must admit that as a young child I did get a good laugh at my maternal grandfather’s funeral when my cousin threw up in his mother’s purse during the service. My grandfather, Daddy Joe as we grandkids called him, was well-known for his humor, so I suspect that he would have been glad that I could laugh at his send off. But neither laughter nor solemnity were the reported themes for the celebrity funerals in the news of late..

Since Senator John McCain was a politician, it is understandable that politics would somehow creep into  his funeral. But rather than lauding the political achievements of this former POW and long-time public servant, his daughter took the opportunity to lambast her father’s political adversary, Donald Trump. Whether or not her comments about the sitting president were accurate, they were certainly not the appropriate focus for her dad’s funeral. Let’s hear about how great your father is and how much you will miss him, Meghan–not how President Trump spouts “cheap rhetoric.” Discuss the departed and not the despised, please.

The press doesn’t get a free ride in this situation either. Reports of the event focused on controversy and negativity surrounding the funeral. Isn’t there enough of the ugly every day? Can’t we simply celebrate a man’s life and leave the bad stuff for another time?

You’d think that it was a wedding that was being thrown instead of Sen. McCain’s funeral. Who was invited and who wasn’t got just about as much attention as to who was being laid to rest. In the case of President Trump, reports were that he had been invited NOT to attend.  And then there’s the seating–often a hot button issue for nuptials. Complaints were aired that Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, were not seated in a prominent/important enough position in the National Cathedral for the funeral. Why, GASP, Ivanka was forced to sit with members of the current administration and former White House officials. Should she have to endure sitting with “the help?” So much for peace on earth; we can’t even get peace in a place of worship..

Again, what can we expect when politicians at a D.C. funeral are involved? But when a music icon is the dearly departed and the funeral’s in Detroit, surely there would be sweet music and sweet vibes there. HA!  Aretha Franklin’s service was just as controversial. Instead of “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” we had #MeToo.

Singing sensation Ariana Grande was asked to sing Aretha’s hallmark song and it was a showstopper. I don’t know about her voice, but everyone was captivated by Ariana’s LBD with emphasis on the “L.”  Ariana had the black right for the funeral, but mini skirts are not really appropriate attire for this type of solemn event. Is that outfit respectful?

Former President Bill Clinton did not appear to have any issue at all with the amount of skin flaunted by Ariana. He was pictured prominently in the media with a big grin on his face like he was eyeing Ariana for an afternoon snack.  Hey! He didn’t have sex with that woman, he just ogled her….

At least Clinton only leered at Ariana. Bishop Charles Ellis was accused of groping her. While congratulating Ariana on her singing in front of all the funeral attendees, he wrapped his right arm around her and pressed his fingers against the side of her chest. Yup! He was fingered for inappropriate behavior with photographic evidence.

The pastor who eulogized Aretha at the funeral got in hot water as well. He went off on rabbit trails and denounced police violence against African-Americans and criticized Black Lives Matter. Not that these aren’t timely topics which may need to be addressed, but must we address them as we are trying to say our goodbyes to a music legend? The problems will still be there tomorrow, but Aretha won’t.

Instead of trying to be entertained or educated at a funeral, why don’t we return to the fairly simple concept of grieving for the loss of a human life? Let’s rejoice in the good times we had with the departed and how he/she touched our lives for the better.  Let’s dab our eyes with hankies to wipe away tears instead of pointing our fingers in the face of others who aren’t the subject of the service. Let’s avoid spectacles and speculate on the meaning of life and how to best carry ours on since we aren’t in the casket.

Perhaps Sir Elton John had it right with his “Funeral For A Friend” on the smash double album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. The song is an instrumental he created while thinking of what kind of music he would like at his funeral. Lyrics were noticeably absent from the haunting song. Funerals might be more meaningful if those attending spoke less and thought more about the departed specifically and the meaning of life in general.  And friend, don’t we all want our funerals to be like that?

Just WONDER-ing: What do you think the purpose of a funeral is? How should respect be paid to the dearly departed at this type of a service? Have you envisioned how your funeral will be? How you’d like it to be?

8 thoughts on “Funeral For A Friend

  1. Great article!! We do need to reflect more on how those that have left us impacted our lives and society as a whole.

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  2. Thought-provoking and timely post.
    A funeral should be a celebration of the departed one’s most meaningful contributions and a reminder to those remaining to make their own.

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  3. I missed both funeral intentionally k owing how they would be because of how we are in a society right now about all the issues you mentioned quote well. For me, I want to be cremated and I want all four verses if How Great Thou Art sung. I want it to be a celebration as much as possible. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Enjoyed reading this!!!

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    1. Thanks for reading, Tammy. I want to be cremated as well and to have “I Can Only Imagine” sung. I won’t have to imagine at that point, but I want those attending the funeral to be thinking about that for themselves.

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  4. I want my funeral to be an occasion for family and friends to gather and celebrate the life that I lived and the memories that I hope many cherish. I want someone to mention that I was a Barnabas, an encourager. I want someone to mention that I never lived a day in my life that I did not laugh, long and loud. I want folks to look at the photo slideshow and say ‘Steve sure did love his family, all of them.”

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    1. Thanks for reading, Steve. If I am at your service, I would definitely mention your love for writing and dedication to doing it consistently and well!

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  5. I hope that most of my body can be given to living people, for I am an organ donor. What ever is left of my body, for all I care, can be left as food for worms. Don’t spend good money on a used up discarded body. As for the celebration of my departure I hope my friends and family, can remember me with a little kindness, a little humor, and a lot of forgiveness.

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