I have a friend who has recently lost a relative, and was talking about the hierarchy involved in putting death notices in the paper. You know, "Beloved father of Blah Blah, husband of Thingy, Uncle of Rahrahrah and Poppa of Hoojamaflicky" kind of thing.
It seems to me that it's almost like seating people at a wedding. Everyone has to have a mention, and it has to be done in a certain order, and you shouldn't put ex-wives next to current wives, and such-and-such doesn't like that other guy so they shouldn't be together and..
Surely a death notice is there to inform the general populace that someone's died, right? And all the people mentioned in the ad would already know this, right? So why the convoluted and fraught list of attachments? Why can't you say something like "X died after a piano fell on his head, he knew a lot of people and was loved by most of them. *insert funeral/memorial details here* No flowers thanks, we don't know what to do with them."
Mum was present for this conversation, and her opinion is "Please don't do multiple elongated death notices for me."
So, who are death notices for? The deceased, or for the living? And why do the petty squabbles and associations amongst the living take over from the purpose of the death notice?
Dad didn't have a major one. He also didn't have a big funeral. He wouldn't have had a funeral at all because he'd donated his body to science - only the guy who receives the bodies and deals with them was off with flu that day, so they couldn't take him. Luckily, Dad had a contingency plan, so he was cremated. Present at funeral (at his request) - Me, Mum, grist and Tommy. Immediate family only, he wanted no fuss, no expensive ostentatious pretentious stuff. The funeral director was somewhat taken aback that we didn't want intoned speeches in hushed tones, or prayers or such. We sat for 5 minutes or so, said our goodbyes, and that was that.
The next day there was a memorial get together where everyone who knew him got to say their bit. There were stories, funny poems, jokes, photographs and food. It was very cool, exactly as he'd wanted it, and such a fitting sendoff for a man who'd spent his life entertaining people, to have his final 'do' be a light-hearted affair.
His parting words - "If you don't go to other people's funerals, don't expect them to come to yours."
Anyway, this all sounds kind of morbid to be thinking about but I will not lie and pretend this stuff doesn't come into my mind. It does, and I'll talk about it because talking about things helps to sort them out in my head.
I am very glad my family is the kind that goes "Bollocks to tradition, let's do the thing that works for us." And in this case, it's not kowtowing to the so-called 'funeral notice etiquette.' My Mum is a unique woman, she deserves to be treated in a unique way.
And for those of you who are thinking that there's something wrong with thinking about her dying, as if it'll somehow 'curse' her - I say bollocks. Too much is hidden in this world, and my Mum's potential death is a reality for us that I won't hide. She wants to talk about it, and so do I. Why keep it hidden, pretend it's not happening, bury it, hide it away as if it's something bad? It's simply what's happening right now in our lives, and not to be discussed in hushed and diplomatic tones. My Dad did not 'pass away', he didn't 'cross over' and he didn't 'go to a better place.' He died.
And that's how I plan to deal with this, by talking about it, and not pussyfooting around it as if Mum being sick is some kind of family embarrassment that should be avoided. K?
Gosh. That wasn't supposed to happen. Apologies to anyone who find the content of this post offensive.
[EDIT] Important community notice! There is not enough Segway parking in Wellington! People are having to leave their Segways on the street because they won't go up stairs. This creates a risk to pedestrians and an opportunity for thieves. There could be police Segway chases in our future. Won't anybody think of the children?