Decorum At A Funeral

by admin on July 29, 2015

Background:

“Tim” was a well-liked under-thirty professional, working in his family’s practice in a small town. He was very close to his sister, who got married recently. On the night of her wedding, as “Tim” was driving home from her reception, he was killed in a car wreck. Tragic, shocking, and heartbreaking for many people, and the loss coming on his sister’s wedding day made it even worse.

At the funeral, the church was packed, as was the parish hall and the nursery, both of which had feeds to the service on TV screens. I had attended this church for many years before transferring to a different town, I had taught this young man in Sunday School when he was younger, and my grown daughter knew him quite well, so of course I went to the funeral. Even though I was a good bit early, I had to sit in the parish hall, as the church had overflowed already – my daughter was in the church, but was jammed in a pew with others. I didn’t know the people around me in my immediate seating area in the parish hall; a few seats over from me was a man I didn’t know who was rather talkative and jovial as we waited for the funeral to start. It was irritating to me, but he wasn’t out of hand and what was I going to do, go over there and make a scene? I was just grateful he was in the parish hall, where the family couldn’t hear him chuckling. Seats were at a premium and they were bringing in folding chairs scrounged from everywhere, but this man chose to place his suit coat on the empty chair in front of him, thus keeping it from being used to seat someone.

This service included communion, which in this denomination means wine from a chalice. As we came back from filing through to take communion, I heard in disbelief this man making jokes about “that punch they served in there,” as he referred to the sacramental wine. He also made some small joking comments about the priest’s sermon as we watched on the TV screen – I happened to know this priest was close to the bereaved family, and was visibly choking back tears on several occasions, so I failed to see anything humorous in his sincere sermon. Later, this guy said he was hot, and needed some more of that punch. As the service concluded and we filed outside to greet the grieving family and offer hugs, this joker says, “I’m going to go to my car and get me some A/C!”, this time loud enough for all to hear, including the mourning family.

Seriously, why did this man come to this funeral? All I know is that he was anything but respectful. 0512-14

{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy B July 29, 2015 at 7:40 am

It’s disgusting how some people like to play spectator at these kinds of things. A friend of mine was recently killed overseas in bizarre accident that gained some attention. There was a man at the funeral wandering around asking people how they thought the accident occurred (as in: what are the grisly details) and where her body was and when it would be returned. It was really repugnant that someone would find a funeral “fun” but people are really messed up.

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kingsrings July 29, 2015 at 10:38 am

We all have that morbid sense of curiosity. An ex-boyfriend of mine recently committed suicide, and I was very curious about how he did it, despite my grief and sorrow over his death. I’m sure that other people were as well. Some of us even privately spoke about it at his first memorial service. But no one should ever do what that guy did and go around loudly talking about it or asking questions. That’s tacky and inappropriate and upsetting to the family I’m sure.

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PatGreen July 29, 2015 at 7:45 am

Why would someone go to a funeral and behave so poorly? Why not just stay home? People go to other events centered around honoring others like weddings, showers, and birthday parties expecting to be at minimum provided with food and conversation. There is a possibility of alcohol and other entertainment as well. But funerals? Why even attend if you’re not there to respectfully honor the dead and provide comfort to the family?

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OP July 29, 2015 at 12:27 pm

I asked myself that same question!

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MamaToreen July 29, 2015 at 8:19 am

I know people process grief in different ways, But a grown man should know better. Did it appear that anyone was there with him? Was he behaving badly because he was there against his will? There is no excuse for his behavior, I am just trying to figure out what on Earth he was thinking!

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JB in KC July 29, 2015 at 8:23 am

So the young man didn’t behave the way you wanted at a funeral. Well, sorry, I think you’re overly sensitive. You would have needed a fainting couch at the funerals of my mother and father, just from the way me and all of my brothers and sisters behaved. Yes, it’s a sad affair, but for young people, it is also an unsettling event. This was possibly the first time he had witnessed someone of such a young age dying, and he engaged in a bit of gallows humor to cope. Cut him some slack, try to look at it from a different perspective. Yes, he wasn’t somber, but he also didn’t do anything all that outrageous.

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Tracy P July 29, 2015 at 8:58 am

No, nothing that outrageous. Just mocked the OP and the deceased family’s religion.

Mocking a grieving priest at a funeral is outrageous. If he was uncomfortable, all he had to do was shut up.

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Cat July 29, 2015 at 9:01 am

Pat Conroy wrote about how his sister make a huge ball of spitwad and played with it while seated in the front pew at their father’s funeral. She was seeing how far she could toss it in the air and catch it. She was an adult.

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Jocelyn July 30, 2015 at 9:34 am

But was Pat Conroy suggesting that her behavior was appropriate?
Just because others behave badly doesn’t excuse bad behaviors.

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Daisy July 29, 2015 at 9:13 am

Sorry, but I have to disagree. This man may not have done anything outrageous, but his antics distracted others and made it difficult to focus on their grief and on the bereaved family. Gallows humour is only acceptable when it isn’t going to increase someone else’s pain, and that is normally far out of the hearing of any bereaved. People who have not learned that being unsettled isn’t an excuse for poor behavior should not expect others to be happy about dealing with them.

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lkb July 29, 2015 at 9:41 am

Au Contraire JB: While he may well have been acting out of ignorance and out of the awkwardness of what, to him, may have been an unfamiliar situation, from what I’ve read, he did plenty that was outrageous:
1. Hogging an additional seat he didn’t need in a crowded venue by putting his suit coat on it.
2. Cracking a joke about an obviously grieving priest’s sermon, during the sermon while other people were trying to hear what the priest said.
3. Calling sacramental wine “punch” and commenting about going back for seconds — in many denominations the wine is sacred. That is, it’s holy and not something to be joked about.
4. Being talkative and jovial during a church service in which many others are obviously grieving and silent. Sounds like the man needed a “clue by four”.

I know that everyone grieves differently and funerals vary in style, degrees of formality, and how the grief was expressed. But in this case the man in question should have followed the lead of the immediate family and kept the comments to himself.

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Kirsten July 29, 2015 at 4:07 pm

1,2 and 4 are valid points, but sacramental wine is only “holy” to people of that particular denomination. To anyone else, it’s just wine, and usually slightly vinegary wine at that.

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Vicki Cole July 29, 2015 at 9:10 pm

Even if you belong to a denomination that doesn’t consider communion wine to be “holy” – when you’re in a place of worship, you should show respect for the beliefs of that congregation. Since the OP mentioned a priest, it’s likely this was a Catholic church – which makes joking about the sacramental wine especially offensive.

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nannerdoman July 30, 2015 at 3:45 pm

Or an Episcopal church. Both churches teach that the consecrated wine is the Blood of Christ. Not something we appreciate having jokes made about.

Raymee August 3, 2015 at 5:04 am

How is it especially offensive if it is a Catholic church? Why does that religious organisation deserve more respect than any other?

Cat July 29, 2015 at 10:06 pm

If you are not a member of the demonination, you should respect their beliefs and not partake of it. Churches that believe communion is a sacrament have either closed communion or communion limited to baptized Christians. His comments mean this man was neither and should not have received communion.
Anyone else should remain in their places and be silent during the communion service.

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Freq Flyer July 30, 2015 at 10:53 am

“Churches that believe communion is a sacrament have either closed communion or communion limited to baptized Christians. ”

I am a lifelong Episcopalian. In my church, we believe the Lord’s table is open to all.

All. Period. No barriers.

Yes, the man was a boor. I’ve seen people like that in church, and I just hope they come to their senses.

Speaking of which… anyone else offended by The Donald’s description of his religious life as “eating the little cracker”?

LadyV July 31, 2015 at 12:35 pm

Freq Flyer: that was just another reason for my contempt level toward Trump to go up. I was raised in the Episcopalian church as well, and even though I am no longer a church goer, that irked the hell out of me.

LadyV July 29, 2015 at 9:43 am

What makes you think it was a “young” man? The OP doesn’t give any indication of his age. My impression was that he was more than old enough to know better. Even if it was a younger man, it doesn’t seem as though he knew the deceased well enough to be having an overly emotional reaction to his death, the kind that might lead to gallows humor. Far different from how you and your siblings behaved at your parents’ funerals, when there was considerable emotional investment. I completely disagree with your statement that OP is being overly sensitive.

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starstruck July 29, 2015 at 6:09 pm

Yes people grieve in different ways, mostly in private. But In public at a funeral one is expected to behave only one way. Respectfully. I learned this as a child , this grown man should know better. Making jokes about a priest during a funeral is just awful. No matter how he dealing with grief

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Wild Irish Rose July 29, 2015 at 9:47 am

Seriously? Who goes to a funeral and mocks the priest? I can totally understand exchanging funny stories about the deceased with people who knew him–as long as they are done with affectionate remembrance of the deceased. Gallows humor has its place, but the actual funeral isn’t it.

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Skaramouche July 29, 2015 at 10:05 am

Hmmm…feeling the sting of reproach about our own behaviour, are we? 😛
The OP didn’t say he was “young” and based on your subsequent comment about someone “young” dying, I’m going to hazard a guess that you feel anyone under 30 is young. Young or not, that is no excuse for such behaviour. Gallows humour is great, especially if that’s your preferred way of coping, but it has a time and a place. A packed funeral is not the right place. In any case, it is abundantly clear that this man lacks manners and good breeding in general…having your suit jacket take up a seat when there are clearly not enough to go around has nothing to do with the funeral or being unsettled or coping techniques.

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Lisa H. July 29, 2015 at 10:18 am

Cut the PC “garbage” JB; he was disrespectful. Call it what it is. Unless he was a toddler, there is no excuse for his behavior. Your situation is entirely different as it was your family and therefore your choice to behave as you saw fit.

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HotMango July 29, 2015 at 11:29 am

I agree a little bit of gallows humor, if done properly and respectfully, can lighten the mood of a somber event. But openly mocking people who are grieving (the priest) and their religious ceremonies (the wine) as well as hogging the very limited seating – just no!
Many years ago, I was unfortunate enough to share a pew with my husband’s friend’s girlfriend during the wedding of another friend. She made jokes and cracks about the bride’s weight and giggled through the entire ceremony! It was not only highly distracting for me who just wanted to witness the bridal couple’s happiness but it was also very disrespectful of the religious service and HC who had spent good money to host not-so-funny friend’s girlfriend during the most important day of their lives. And this was during a happy occasion. I can’t even imagine dealing with such a boor during a sad event.

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GeenaG July 29, 2015 at 12:09 pm

JB I don’t think the OP is overly sensitive, I think you have a sensitivity chip missing.

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Hey Nonny Nonny July 29, 2015 at 12:54 pm

This is like saying that because it’s fun, accepted and expected to yell at the screen, throw things, and get up and dance during a midnight showing of Rocky Horror, that it would be ok to do those things at the premiere of a serious art film.

It is boorish to presume to come into an event that is NOT ABOUT YOU and attempt to dictate a tone contrary to the wishes of the organizers. And yes, it is outrageous. If you can’t control yourself, remove yourself. Don’t subject others to your inability to behave. The world is NOT YOUR ASHTRAY. Why do those who think everything needs to be a joke get to tell those who wish for a solemn atmosphere that they aren’t allowed to have one?

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AIP July 29, 2015 at 4:43 pm

Different contexts JB: you were the grieving family, and it was up to you he you grieved. And I’m going to guess that you weren’t unfortunate enough to lose both of your parents in a sudden, tragic accident, just after a family wedding (possibly making the sister feel misplaced guilt), when they were only 30.

His behaviour would have been unacceptable in a cinema or a theatre, so what makes it acceptable when viewing a funeral?

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Sarah B. July 29, 2015 at 5:05 pm

My family uses gallows humor to cope with grief, too, but there is a time and a place for it and a way to use it that doesn’t disrespect everyone else present, including the poor deceased. There’s also a huge difference between a funeral for one’s dear parents (or siblings or grandparents) and a funeral for someone unrelated (I assume this man wasn’t family to Tim — or at least not remotely close family — or he would’ve been in the main part of the church). The immediate family of the deceased set the tone of the service. If the children of the deceased want more of a celebration of life than a solemn, religious funeral, then that’s perfectly fine and appropriate. Not a thing wrong with cracking jokes and telling funny stories about Mom or Dad, if that’s what the majority of the siblings want. We did a mix of that and deep grieving crying at our dad’s funeral. (My poor sister was cracking jokes one minute and throwing herself over the casket, sobbing, the next — my mom — Dad’s second wife — and her mom — Dad’s third wife — had to half carry her back to her seat. Fifteen minutes later, she was joking again. She’d just had a moment and both were okay.)

But if the immediate family wants a solemn, deeply religious funeral, then everyone should behave accordingly. I’m agnostic and don’t care for organized religion (I’m all for individual spirituality of any type, and have spiritual beliefs of my own that I practice), but *I’m* offended by how that guy acted. It doesn’t matter a bit what your own personal beliefs are — when you’re at a church or some other branch of religion’s church, temple, etc., you’re quiet and respectful. I’ve been at several church services with family and friends. No matter how ridiculous I personally thought what was going on was (and I’ve seen some really amusing things), I kept my thoughts to myself and bit my lip bloody not to laugh and kept my head bowed to keep my expression as appropriately solemn as I could. That’s just what decent people do. If you have a similarly inclined companion, a few quietly whispered in their ear comments while the clergy person *isn’t* conducting the service/sermon/ceremony is okay, as long as there’s no audible or glaringly visible signs of snickering, but during the service/sermon/ceremony, it’s rude to say anything at all. This man was utterly out of line.

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lakey July 29, 2015 at 5:07 pm

I disagree. The man’s comments were juvenile and rude. The silly comment about sacramental wine being “punch” was insulting to the religion. When I go to a service in a place of worship that is a different religion from my own, I take my cue for behavior from those around me. I certainly don’t make smart alec comments about the rituals, or items that are used in the service. If I had behaved like this when I was a child, believe me, my parents would have yanked my leash.
Also, leaving your jacket on a chair when others can’t find a place to sit is incredibly self absorbed.
This man needs to grow up.

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Lizajane July 29, 2015 at 5:18 pm

KC, Are you serious? You got to deal with your grief in your way at your parents’ funerals because you were the bereaved. There’s A LOT wrong with how this guy acted. He doesn’t get to set the tone for someone else’s grief. So inappropriate.

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iwadasn September 29, 2017 at 8:47 pm

Judging from your overly defensive post, you know perfectly well that you behaved boorishly, just as you know that this man (and there’s nothing in the story to justify your assumption that he’s a young man, so that’s probably just you projecting again) behaved boorishly, and he doesn’t even have the excuse that he was the one grieving! Using gallows humor to cope with your own grief is in bad taste, but it can be overlooked; using gallows humor to mock the grief of others simply to amuse yourself is clearly reprehensible.

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Tracy P July 29, 2015 at 8:29 am

The only thing I can think to have done in the moment is to give him a tap and a “shhh” with a stern look if you were close enough.

Evil me would have wanted to smack him on the back of his head. Or grab him by the ear and drag him to a back room to give him a lesson on how to behave.

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Cat July 29, 2015 at 9:00 am

Anyone who would call a sacrament “punch” had no business receiving it. He was unable to be respectful in so many ways one hardly knows where to begin.
You did well not to give in to rebuking him in public. I think I would have been unable to refrain from exclaiming, “Good!” when he said he was going to his car.

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DannysGirl July 29, 2015 at 10:50 am

I was thinking this man may not have been of the same faith as OP. If OP is of the faith I’m thinking of, they do not allow other religions/faiths/denominations to take the Eucharist. That means the man may have been disrespectful in yet another way. Not only did he mock the sacramental wine, but he may not have been allowed to have it in the first place!

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Vicki Cole July 29, 2015 at 9:14 pm

DannysGirl, my thoughts went the same way. I think it was probably a Catholic church – and if so as a non-Catholic, he shouldn’t have even participated in the Eucharist. Even though I grew up in a church (Episcopalian) that DID have Holy Communion, when I’ve attended church with Catholic friends, I don’t go up for communion.

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o_gal July 30, 2015 at 6:39 am

He may not have realized that not being Catholic means that you do not accept the Eucharist. His behavior shows that he did not know how to behave at a funeral. This may have been one of the few religious services that he’s ever been to, if he did not grow up attending a Christian church or does not attend one now. Given the crowd, there was probably not a service bulletin, where it could be stated that non-Catholics should remain seated or only get a blessing from the priest. So he just went along with everyone else, not knowing anything and behaving horribly about everything.

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Nannerdoman July 30, 2015 at 10:26 am

Whether or not this man was of the faith practiced by the deceased and family, referring to the elements of the Eucharist as though they were birthday party refreshments is juvenile and disrespectful. And it sounds as though this guy was old enough to know that, and thought he was being clever or witty by disparaging someone else’s religion.

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Dee July 29, 2015 at 11:45 am

I think the man’s behaviour was appalling but I have to disagree with you, Cat, and say that he seems likely to be the one most needing of the sacrament.

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Cat July 29, 2015 at 10:31 pm

He needed a great many things, but to receive communion as a mockery of belief rather than an affirmation of belief is an offense to God and to His Church. The Eucharist is not to be used as a joke.
St. Paul, in 1 Cor.11,27, wrote “Whosoever shall eat this bread or drink the Chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.” My Church’s catechism says, ” Sacrilege consists of profaining or treating unworthily the sacrament…consecrated to God. Sacrilege is a grave sin especially when commited against the Eucharist, for in this sacrament the true Body of Christ is made substantially present for us.”
So no, he did not “need” a sacrament he could neither discern nor reverence.

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Dee July 30, 2015 at 12:39 pm

There is that old saying “church is for sinners”. It is there for those who need it most. The OP did not say that there were any restrictions on who could receive Communion in this church, as there are in some churches. So, that man was welcomed to receive it. Whether he did so or not was his own choice. That he mocked it is between him and God. Certainly, if he broke the rules of the church he could be asked to leave but we are not to judge who is and who is not worthy of receiving Communion, and Jesus was quite adamant that the “lowest” were the ones he was most invested in.

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Pat July 30, 2015 at 3:42 pm

I doubt this was a Catholic church. If it was, the OP would not use the term “sacramental wine.”

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Pat July 30, 2015 at 3:51 pm

In addition, Catholic kids go to “catechism class” not “Sunday school.” OP indicated that she had been the decedent’s Sunday school teacher, so this is another indication that this was not a Catholic church.

MPW1971 August 3, 2015 at 2:15 pm

If that’s not the correct term, what is? (As a practicing Catholic in his 40’s, that’s the term I would use.)

lkb July 29, 2015 at 9:19 am

No advice to offer but my condolences to the OP for his/her loss and for having to endure behavior like that at such at time.

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Michelle July 29, 2015 at 9:57 am

Sounds like this man was there for “entertainment”, i.e. decided to attend the funeral of a well-known person in town and comment on everything. I think you were remarkably restrained in not saying anything, but I’m with Tracy P- I would have tapped his shoulder and shushed him.

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WendyB July 29, 2015 at 10:16 am

It’s a wonder no one from the funeral home said anything to him, at least about his coat and asking him to keep his voice down. I’ve seen that. But then, with the crowd, they might not have had the opportunity.

I’ve been seeing some real “winners” at funerals and viewings recently. The family that came dressed like they were on their way to the beach (Okay, I understand you might not have dress up clothes, but short-shorts are NOT appropriate!) who wouldn’t move to let people get through the pews (during a massive viewing that would only work at a church) and then left in a noisy group were the most recent. It seems people are either not taught how to behave, or simply don’t care.

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rubysububi July 29, 2015 at 11:08 am

A little humor at or after a funeral isn’t unusual; people will tell funny anecdotes about the deceased in eulogies, or at a post-funeral gathering. It breaks some of the tension, and it’s a way to share happy memories of a relative or friend.

But this guy was clearly crossing the line. He was rude during and after the church service, and he insulted the religious traditions of the family (while the funeral Mass was in progress, no less!) He wasn’t reminiscing about good times with a lost friend; he was clowning around for attention.

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Girlie July 29, 2015 at 11:14 am

There are many things to which I do not take easy offense to at funerals – inappropriate dress, for example, has to be “way beyond” for it to register for me. I live in the south, where a funeral might mean anything from one’s Sunday best, to one’s best work clothes, whatever they may be.

The way in which one conducts themself, however, has little to do with how one looks. Inappropriate comments about something that is considered a holy part of the deceased’s family’s religion, occupying more space than necessary, behavior that is meant to distract from the matter at hand – all of these are best done away from the bereaved, or better yet, not at all.

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Pat July 29, 2015 at 11:20 am

It seems to me that if you are in a church or in an environment where you are not familiar with the customs or practices, you should behave in a respectful manner and take your cue from the people around you. You can almost never go wrong by just keeping your mouth shut. The fact that it’s distracting and rude to voice your opinions, “clever” comments, criticisms etc. during church services, graduations, speeches, movies, plays etc. just seems to be lost on a lot of people. Keeping silent seems to be becoming a lost art. At times, I’ve had to ask people to please stop talking or I’ve had to move my seat (OP was not able to do this). I don’t enjoy doing it, but at times it’s necessary.

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Carol July 29, 2015 at 11:25 am

DH and I once attended the funeral of a friend’s father. The family emigrated from Latvia after WWII, the funeral was at the Latvian church, the service was 90% in Latvian, and there were customs that were different from our home churches. It was also a long service, both from the actual service itself and from the fact that people from the church were invited to come up and say a few words about the deceased. Our friends’ parents had been involved in raising the money to build the church and had served on its boards and committees for decades, so many people from their generation wanted to say something. While we couldn’t understand what they were saying (except for one man who worked with the deceased and spoke in English), it was clear that they were speaking from the heart.

So, it was quite possibly the longest funeral I have ever attended and we barely understood a word. Nonetheless, we managed to stand and kneel at the appropriate times and sit reverently and respectfully when others were speaking. We even gave it our best shot on the hymns by sight-reading from the hymnal.

That’s really all that’s expected of anyone who attends a funeral. Follow the lead of others and behave in a respectful manner.

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Nannerdoman July 30, 2015 at 10:29 am

I had a very similar experience this year at a Vietnamese woman’s funeral. And yes, you sit quietly and respectfully. The guy OP wrote about evidently didn’t care about that.

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NostalgicGal July 29, 2015 at 11:59 am

Our town has a few funerals that are so large they use the school auditorium and they can pack it. At that time it’s not only paying honor to someone well loved and respected, but some go for the sake of going (Have to be SEEN ‘doing’). I won’t repeat some of what goes on at one of those, but I have vowed if I end up officiating at one of these that I am going to suggest to the family having two services. One with bouncers for the true family, and one for the public. (shakes head)

Anyone that jokes about the sacrament and downgrades the priest or minister, shouldn’t be there and shouldn’t be receiving the sacrament. It’s no joking matter. It may be the way the person was dealing with the event and grief or lack of it and the possibly being uncomfortable at being there. I would have said something to him if I’d been sitting nearby, I’m afraid.

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GeenaG July 29, 2015 at 12:08 pm

I have run into people like this and I find a cold dead stare of death steadily aimed at them until they notice works great. It’s quiet, doesn’t create a scene and the person understand what you’re telling them.

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Filiagape July 29, 2015 at 12:09 pm

I’m amazed no one sat on his cot. I would have asked the person to the right and left of said coat if the seat was being saved for someone. Upon receiving a no, I would have sat. The commendeering one of a limited supply of seats for his jacket is by itself obnoxious and out of line. Did he have a neighbor trying to disappear into the floor, wishing he/she had left the boor home?

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Lerah99 July 29, 2015 at 12:17 pm

There are two things we always seem to discount when talking about situations like this.

1) Some people are simply jerks. They behave in outrageous ways, say outrageous things, and when confronted about their behavior justify it with “I was just joking/kidding/fooling around! Geeze! Can’t you take a joke/don’t you have a sense of humor?”

2) 1 out of 10 people will experience mental illness in their lives. And when we talk about people being inappropriate in public, demanding, missing social queues, asking for unreasonable accommodations, etc… We always act as if these strangers are healthy, fully capable, well adjusted adults.

This guy’s behavior could easily be explained if he’s bipolar and in a manic phase.
Or, he might just be a jerk.

The problem is, as strangers, it’s impossible for us to tell what was actually going on with this guy.

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OP July 29, 2015 at 12:25 pm

OP here. The man in question was middle aged at least, and from all I could see, came alone. He certainly left alone. No one around him appeared to be there with him — his remarks were made in general, to all, and loud enough to disturb at least those of us seated a couple of rows around him.
He drew several stares that I saw. I was definitely offended by his comments about my former priest and the communion wine, and the funeral took place at the deceased’s and his family’s home church, so this was their current priest and good friend, and their religious traditions the man was poking fun at. But most of all, in a group mourning the shocking sudden death of a wonderful young man, who had a ton of good friends for the good reason that he was such a great guy, the man offended me with his total lack of respect and terrible behavior.
Thanks all for the condolences. “Tim” is still missed very much.

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Lyn July 29, 2015 at 12:50 pm

When an adult attends a funeral, the best way to behave is to be quiet and respectful, especially if you are attending a service you are not familiar with.

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Ellex July 29, 2015 at 12:54 pm

Reminds me of that Mary Tyler Moore episode where she can’t stop laughing during the funeral. “A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer in your pants.”

It’s a given that weddings and funerals are emotional events, sometimes they don’t always bring out the best in people. This includes making inappropriate comments (especially with those of us who are cursed to deal with stress by laughter and jokes) and being a harsher judge of character than you might otherwise be.

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AnaMaria July 29, 2015 at 1:32 pm

I have been to funerals where people were jovial and laughing, but it was usually 1) a funeral for someone who had lived a long, full life and finally moved on to their Heavenly rest and 2) the family of the deceased were the ones leading the laughter and remembering the deceased. The funeral described above was a young person who died suddenly and tragically- they say that burying a child is THE most psychologically traumatizing event a parent can ever experience. This was NOT a time to be joking around! And to treat Sacrements as snack time is seen as giving God the finger to many Christians. I do hope this man didn’t get too close to any immediate family of the deceased and feel for those who had to put up with his behavior.

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Rebecca July 29, 2015 at 3:38 pm

What a horrid time to witness such disrespect.

I don’t care if he was uncomfortable or handles guilt differently, even uncomfortable people know that you stay quiet at such a somber event.

Perhaps he thought since it was such a huge gathering given the amount of attendees that it was okay to behave so poorly? Who knows, I can’t even fathom thinking it was reasonable to act a tacky mess like that around grieving individuals.

I know some people go to funerals to accompany others who are mourning, not so much because they are in the process themselves if that makes sense? Perhaps he was there as a “favor” to a loved one who was in mourning and he was trying to “lighten” their mood? Still such a poor way to handle the whole thing, I am mortified for his friends and family who may have been in attendance as well. They probably know he’s has no manners though, which still doesn’t make it easy to handle.

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Lady Anne July 29, 2015 at 9:20 pm

This man’s behaviour was totally beyond the pale. My dad was a C0fE clergyman, and I will tell you straight up that if this fellow had been in the church itself, he would have called him out – from the pulpit, if necessary.

Any time Communion is offered, it is considered, in one way or another, to represent the Body and Blood of Christ, either in truth or a remembrance. There are no outsiders in the family of God, so he would have been welcome to partake, but for him to have called it “punch” – well, words fail me, and that doesn’t happen very often!

Funny stories at the reception afterward are always appropriate. “Do you remember the time…” and sometimes a family member will tell a story during the service itself that brings a chuckle, but that obviously wasn’t the case here. A good smiting is it order, I think!

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Andrea L. July 31, 2015 at 3:02 pm

If this was a Catholic Mass, and he was not Catholic or of one of the denominations who are officially welcomed to receive (not “take”) Communion in the Catholic Church, then no, he was not welcome to receive it.

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Shalamar July 30, 2015 at 8:26 am

Boy, and here I thought that the boor who kept making loud comments during my friend’s wedding ceremony was bad. At least a wedding is a happy occasion!

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Gabriele July 30, 2015 at 5:04 pm

Since the offending party was seated by himself, in the adjacent hall and no one from the church or funeral company did anything to control his behavior, I wonder if he was somehow related to the decesased….but mentally ill.
He might well have been raised Catholic and could take communion but some people with anger issues will use anything (under the guise of humor) to act out.
I remember other stories about FILs whose behavior was both angry and rude, but did it with the pretense that he thought it was funny…and couldn’t understand why people didn’t get the joke…
Placing his jacket on another chair could have been a way to ‘bait’ people to ask him to move it which would allow him to confront them.
A friend and also my ex-husband behaved this way sometimes if they were in a manic phase. But of course there was nothing wrong with them, it was always ‘other people’
But if the person discussed in this story is that way then even a mild reproof could have set him off. If someone near him could have engaged him in a non-confrontive way (did you know him well? are you related?) perhaps the anger could have been defused. ‘A soft answer turneth away wrath…’

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BagLady July 30, 2015 at 6:08 pm

Oy. Sounds like “Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Funeral.”

Part of me wonders if he would have behaved this way if he had been in the sanctuary, with the family right there, instead of watching the service on a TV screen in the parish hall. There are people who wouldn’t dream of talking during a live performance but think nothing of cracking jokes while watching a movie or a TV show. He may have considered himself more of a spectator than a mourner, since he was watching the service “on TV,” and acted the way he would while watching a TV show or movie. (Which makes him someone I would not want to watch TV or a movie with, unless it was “Rocky Horror.”)

This does not excuse his behavior. He was a boor through and through. Just trying to understand it, because seriously, who *does* this?

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Annie B July 31, 2015 at 11:19 am

People shock me sometimes.

My husband and I are both lawyers. We started dating after working on a jury trial together as interns. Our supervisor was an incredible woman who had a passion for helping people and protecting victims of domestic violence. Far and away, she was the best mentor I have ever had for anything.

A few years after my husband and I graduated from law school, she was tragically killed in a drunk driving accident. (She was not drunk– the drunk driver hit her and killed her.) As she was significant in my life and my husband’s, we made the commute to attend her funeral. It is safe to say this woman was BELOVED by her community. The place was packed. Everyone was somber and/or crying.

I’ll never forget that as we left, we saw another attorney in attendance. He was glad-handing, shaking people’s hands, saying things like, “I’m just damn glad to be here” and “This better wrap up soon– got tickets for the (local college football team) game today!” We were both appalled and convinced that the only reason he showed up was to campaign for his re-election.

He lost. I love karma.

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EchoGirl August 2, 2015 at 12:16 pm

Regarding his comments about the “punch” — I have to wonder if he’s not one of these people who identifies as an “atheist” and thinks that that gives him the right to mock religious people (I’m not trying to say that all or even most atheists are like this, I’ve known many in my life and I’ve never personally met one who thinks that way, it’s a small but vocal group that unfortunately tries to claim they speak for all atheists). In which case, assuming I’ve understood the theology of sacrament correctly, it would be even more wrong for him to take the wine — but if he’s one of this type, he probably doesn’t care about the church’s rules.

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Rod August 4, 2015 at 2:57 pm

In that case, the guy’s a jackass and only incidentally an atheist. The same situation as there are jackasses of pretty much every denomination, class and gender.

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