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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Funerals and rituals

Posted Wednesday, August 26, 2009, at 5:03 PM

My family has had several deaths in the past months and it has lead me to observation of people and the grief process.

I see several interesting traits among families and the south.

I have lived in several different cultures and every culture has a different way of expressing grief and letting a loved one go.

In the South I have noticed a interesting practice, people pull over and stop when a caravan of hearse and mourners come by. Where I used to live that would have gotten you ticketed or in the same boat as the dead guy. It is a interesting practice. I have almost ran over some folks in the past until i got this down pat.

Is this a law here in the south or a courtsey?

Southerners also bring food. LOTS of food for the family which is a nice thing, except when you have had fried chicken for 3 days in a row.

The viewing is a interesting thing. It is not a sorrowful affair as you might think.

People come and go and register in a book. They chat and eat.. children play.

It reeks of formaldehyde and flowers. People share stories if the deceased and cry with one another.

Southerners also have cool tombstones.

My grandfather passed away the day before my birthday. He was so ready to go. He was 96 and since my grandmother had passed in February he just did not want to live any longer.

I can understand that.

Dealing with the death and the estate can be a over whelming thing for the living. I have been praying for my aunties whom are dealing with a lot on their plates right now.

Everyone goes through the process of grief differently.

What are some of your customs and traditions in the funeral process? For some it was a celebration of life lived, for others is is a devastation of a life cut short too soon.

I have instructed my son on what i want when i am dead.

No sappy music, play Jimi Hendrix, Doors and The Final Countdown.

Instead of flowers to flood someone's house, give to a charity like Tabby's Place or the Humane association. the living need stuff I don't.

Put a joke on my headstone.. please.. don't be so serious.

Everyone party, I may have left left you money.

Do NOT bury me in a dress, I will come back to haunt you. Leather, black something.. no dress.

Oh, and let me know if my tattoo's look ok with embalming fluid.

Have a happy day.

Showing comments in chronological order
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The pulling over is a act of courtesy, though some don't do it, the pulling off of hats is another.

I have been to a funeral in New Orleans, that is how I want to go out, I have considered cremation, but Missy is not to fond of the ideal though. The body is all that dies, for I will be eternal in Heaven so I ain't to worried how they do me between this life and the next one.

The food comes from the all day wakes people used to have when funerals were held in peoples houses, where the family out of respect for the dead would set up all night with him or her.

-- Posted by michaelbell on Wed, Aug 26, 2009, at 5:26 PM

Pulling over for an oncoming funeral procession is not required by law, it's just a sign of respect.


It's a shame we wait until someone is dead to show them that much respect though.

-- Posted by quietmike on Wed, Aug 26, 2009, at 5:34 PM

quietmike you are correct...

-- Posted by 4fabfelines on Wed, Aug 26, 2009, at 5:35 PM

I have pondered the whole process. I have come to the conclusion that I want to be a test subject. Maybe pitched from a airplane to see the effects of gravity on a freefalling human or maybe a test to see what the continious 180 db in front of a speaker at at concert will do over time. I think it would be a trip to have your body do something that you couldnt or wouldnt do while alive. Then of course what is left of me after the testing is done can be fed to the fish at seaworld.

-- Posted by bear on Wed, Aug 26, 2009, at 5:40 PM

I will remember that honey.....

Read Mary Roach's book STiff for a good account on what can be done with the dead (legally). It is one of my fave books.

-- Posted by 4fabfelines on Wed, Aug 26, 2009, at 5:43 PM

The pulling over is definately a "southern" thing and although it took me a few times to catch on, I think it's a great thing. I was rather surprised when my grandfather died and several people along the city street (up north) stopped and put their hand over their hearts. Of course that was after the hearse battery "died" and needed a jump start. Grandpa went out cracking a joke! :) And based on family/friends size, I think there's typically lots of food...it may just vary based on "region/location".

-- Posted by neighborhood mom on Wed, Aug 26, 2009, at 7:54 PM

I'd want a real blowout if it could generate income for those in need instead of just running up a big tab.

(I *do* know florists and funereal homes need to make a living but I'd like permanent or living plants instead of perishable arrangements and I'd like to think of my morticians as the "caterers" for my going away party.)

I wouldn't mind winding up in a lab or a Body Farm,being turned into a necklace or being launched amid the stars.

(This is AFTER everything salvageable has been transplanted or otherwise recycled.)

My outer shell can be so much compost.

What I want people to really pay their respects to is my spirit.

Pay attention to the living.

Donate books to the library,tutor or teach someone to read.

Help someone get back on their feet or achieve their dreams.

Feed as many bodies AND souls as one can.

If the Lord tarries,any grave I might have could wind up forgotten.

My name and the details of my life could be lost to the ages.

But,if one being laughs or rests easier or connects with another person because of some legacy of mine,then I'll have done what I wanted to accomplish while I was here.

(Even if I got it done posthumously.)

Lesa,I'll make sure you're sent off looking like Emma Peel if you'll insist that any mourners I might have sponsor a no-kill shelter,neutering and vaccinations and other good critter causes.

If any want to honor my life (even before I go),save a life,save a soul,save a house,save a seat at a play or concert,save a memory,save a species.

I expect that might do more good than getting a taxidermist buddy to prop me up by the jukebox at Fiddle City.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Wed, Aug 26, 2009, at 8:45 PM

Sometimes its simply inappropriate or even dangerous to pull over or stop traffic for a funeral procession. I still am amazed when I see a procession pull out of woodfin funeral home and expect the South Church St traffic to stop.

My thought is that the guest of honor is not going anywhere so the burial can wait until everyone gets there.

-- Posted by gottago on Wed, Aug 26, 2009, at 8:51 PM

I grew up in LA (Califonia) and I will never forget the first time I saw the "tribute train." It was ten years ago this month (August 16, 1999). No I'm not some kind of "RainMan" that remembers ever little fact...it just so happens it took place in Gunnison, Colorado while we were making our cross-country move from California to Tennesse, and the date was my son's birthday.

Anyway, I had no idea what the heck was going on. I was in a foreign city/state and we had stopped at a motel for the night. I saw a "train" of cars being led by a sheriff with his lights flashing. Being from a big city, I had never seen anything like it, other than the bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic on the interstate, but that's not quite the same as a main-stream of cars being led through a "one-horse" town by it's sheriff.

I confess it took me a few minutes to piece it together even after I finally noticed the hearse. It was just such a foreign concept to me. But I think it is a nice tradition, a respectful way to pay final homage to a loved-one. It is just one of the many things I've come to enjoy since my relocation to the South.

-- Posted by So_Sue_Me on Thu, Aug 27, 2009, at 3:00 AM

the whole stopping thing is a nice thing.. but i almost killed a couple of southerners on the way. I had no idea they were stopping for a hearse and i was justa cussin' these folks stopping for "nothing". Then i saw the hearse. I always say a prayer for the family. it is hard being left to deal with everything. I will have to take a year off just to deal with my pack rat mom's stuff. Then again, I might put a sign in the front yard and say "stuff for free" .. ;)

-- Posted by 4fabfelines on Thu, Aug 27, 2009, at 5:18 AM

I had forgotten what my husband said one day (probably after a funeral)...but he wanted a pink hearse and a "drive-thru" viewing. He didn't want anyone being sad or having to hang around. He wanted everyone to move on and go party! It could be tough finding that pink hearse around here though! :p

-- Posted by neighborhood mom on Thu, Aug 27, 2009, at 6:26 AM

Maybe donate your body to one of the Body Farms in East Tennessee...

-- Posted by welkindance on Thu, Aug 27, 2009, at 7:48 AM

Buy a white hearse and paint it pink-or find an undertaker who sells Mary Kay.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Thu, Aug 27, 2009, at 2:50 PM

quantumcat - funny you mention a pink hearse, I was just telling my husband today when we passed a hearse for sale (up near main street) that when I was in high school I wanted a hearse for my car (but I wanted it to be bright pink and glittery!).

and on to weird family funeral things - my mom's side of the family of french Canadian and some of their funeral rituals include photographing the dead person and touching the dead person and asking for a favor or wish (my mom and aunts swear that when you ask a dead person a favor it happens).

-- Posted by cfrich on Sat, Aug 29, 2009, at 7:52 PM

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Clutter, Cats and Kids
Lesa Cox
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Lesa Cox has owned a cleaning service and a bookstore; now, she repairs and maintains computers for the elderly and others on a fixed income. She enjoys animals, gardening, books and fixing old cars. She and her husband have one son, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome.