Funeral Fits

by admin on October 20, 2009

I recently attended both a wake and a funeral for a very decorated NYPD police detective. He was my fiance’s uncle and had a  sudden heart attack while riding his bike. My 3 complaints are about 1. The Mourners  2. The Gawkers Outside Of Church and 3. The Cemetery Workers.

Wake takes place for the standard 2 hours. There are many police in uniform, there to pay their respects while on duty a short drive away. We get there about 30 minutes after starting and there is an extremely slow-moving line outside the door. I had never seen such a thing. When we get near the inside, I see why. More than half the people on this line are monopolizing the widow and her children in trivial conversation while their turn to hug and greet the family. All are aware of the line that has now grown almost 50 yards long. Instead of respectfully offering their condolences and support, and then sitting down (like every other wake I have attended), these disrespectful morons are crowding around the coffin while chatting about summer plans and grandkids. Meanwhile, the line is growing longer and longer. The widow, gracious as always, tries to be polite while still in shock and the obvious need to sit down during her grief.

At the church the next day, a few marked cars are blocking roads off and a gentleman is playing the bagpipes on the front steps. Again, very heavily attended by law enforcement personnel. The service was beautiful. Outside the church however, neighborhood residents are crowding around the barricades gawking and listening the bagpipes. People were even staring out their apartment windows. What did they think it was? Free entertainment??

The cemetery: We are escorted to a very prominent cemetery nearby (think celebrities and $$$$). About 20 feet from the graveside, we all notice 5 workers sitting on a bulldozer drinking sodas and snapping gum, staring at us. Yep, sitting on the bulldozer. They were obviously in a hurry to get their days work done. Absolutely horrible. I was furious on the family’s behalf and shot them many dirty looks. Is this what common courtesy has come to? 0612-09

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

hot_shaker October 20, 2009 at 8:24 am

Situation #1 is definitely rude in my opinion. The grieving family does not want to stand and talk about your life. Give your condolences and keep it moving.

Situation #3 is not quite as bad, but still rude. I’m okay with the workers taking a break outside at a respectable distance from the gravesite. I’m also okay with the workers respectfully listening to the service at a close distance (the 20 feet described by the writer), sans snacks. I’m not okay with them having a little snack break so close to the funeral.

I’m not sure what is the problem with Situation #2. I’m assuming no one was clapping or anything like that. If someone were playing bagpipes outside my apartment, yes, I would problem open the window and listen. I might also stop and listen if I were passing by. Well played bagpipes can be hauntingly beautiful and I would want to hear that. I would also probably take that opportunity reflect on the life lost, regardless if I knew the person. As long as the bystanders were respectful, I don’t see how this is rude.

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Kimberly October 20, 2009 at 4:15 pm

I think 1 and 3 were rude. The bystanders may have been trying to pay their respects. Even if the funeral wasn’t announced, the cops cars and bag pipes would be an announcement.

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Laura October 20, 2009 at 5:23 pm

I have yet to go to a funeral where the cemetery workers actually wait for the cars to leave before they start filling in the grave. It always irritates me – they can’t wait five minutes so the family doesn’t have to see that?

(Obviously, I don’t mean Jewish funerals, where the family starts to fill the grave as part of the ceremony – I just mean the guys with the big bulldozers!)

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azleaneo October 20, 2009 at 7:29 pm

For #3, are you speaking about the cemetery workers who will be filling in the grave when the service is over? I believe they are waiting for the service to finish so they can do their job. If I’m not mistaken, very loud machinery operating during a funeral would be much more rude than a group of workers patiently waiting.

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Alexis October 22, 2009 at 10:08 am

If an officer dies, the funeral, at least the funeral march, is usually a public event, not ‘public’ like a rock concert, but an event which will be witnessed by people who were strangers to the deceased, but still respect and mourn for an officer. As long as those people are quiet and apropriate, it is perfectly acceptable. It was a sign of respect.

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Calliope February 17, 2010 at 10:28 pm

I’ll never understand why people feel the need to mention money in stories like this. What does it matter that the cemetery was expensive? Mentioning it implies that were the cemetery more modest, for people with less money, it would be acceptable for the workers to be rude.

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essie August 20, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Azleano, do you think it would be too much to ask for the workers to either (a) enjoy their snack elsewhere, out of sight of the mourners or (b) forego the snack while waiting?

At funerals I’ve attended, the workers are either out-of-sight or standing, quietly respectful.

At the church where most of my family has been buried, the church offers light refreshments immediately after the graveside service. The family can go there and receive condolences while their loved one is placed in the grave. In some cases (such as both of my maternal grandparents), there are too many mourners to wait until they’re all gone, but the workers DO wait until the immediate family is out of sight. Afterwar, the funeral director quietly lets the next-of-kin know the job is done, so the family can go back (if they wish) to see the grave and the floral tributes and to say one last “Good-Bye”.

Actually, when my beloved grandfather died, I decided (however irrationally) that I couldn’t let him be put in the ground without “someone” there to watch over the prodecure, so, after escorting my mother to the refreshment room, I slipped out and went back to the cemetary. However, knowing the unwritten rules, I stayed outside the gate and watched from the sidewalk; if I had stepped inside the gate, the work would have stopped. They would not have continued while a family member was “present” (just as a lady could answer a knock at her door and say “I’m not ‘at home’ today.”)

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