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Author Topic: Impromptu memorial?  (Read 3407 times)

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Captain Hastings

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Impromptu memorial?
« on: July 09, 2013, 11:37:55 AM »
I witnessed something years ago that I've always wondered about and would like eHell's opinion.

I used to attend a small church, and during one service they had a little "graduation" ceremony for the kids who were in the children's class (like Sunday School, I guess, although we didn't observe the Sabbath on Sundays.) The announcer called out the kids' names, they walked the stage and got a certificate and we applauded each one and it was a cute little event.

Tragically, a few weeks before one of the women in the church had been killed in an auto accident. She had been involved in the children's class and the announcer started talking about her. She had been a good friend of his and the poor guy lost it and started crying there on stage; I don't even remember if he was able to finish the memorial-type text he was reading.

Of course I felt terrible for him and all the deceased woman's friends and family, but at the same time I felt bad for the children: their achievement had been eclipsed and the celebratory mood had been turned on its head; and, as I recall, the ceremony ended on this sad note.

So, eHell, I'm torn. On the one hand it would seem rude to not acknowledge the late woman's work with the children; on the other hand it also seemed rude to shift the focus off the children themselves. I'm also sure the announcer didn't intend to break down like that.

On a similar note, when I was a child a younger relative of mine died on my 10th birthday; it was the first "big" death in my life and I was devastated, but it seemed like every year my dad would go out of his way to bring it up to me on my birthday. Yes, I do feel horribly selfish admitting it bothered me. As an adult I'm now somewhat glad of the timing, because I will always remember to call or send flowers to her mom and let her know I'm thinking about her, but looking back I'm not sure why my dad would bring it up as much as he did (I don't recall him ever mentioning the anniversary of anybody else's death to me.)



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Re: Impromptu memorial?
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2013, 02:06:23 PM »
My mother-in-law passed away on my son's birthday.  We don't mention it (beyond lighting a yartzheit candle for her since we are Jewish), and we don't make a big deal about it (though we've talked to him about the idea of doing something small to remember her at his Bar Mitzvah celebration - we are Orthodox Jews so we do a small celebration on the actual Hebrew birthday, not just a big party on a Saturday). I think reminding him regularly would be cruel and would take away from him knowing that his birhtday is important to us because he's important to us.
"The test of good manners is to be patient with bad ones" - Solomon ibn Gabirol


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Re: Impromptu memorial?
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2013, 08:30:25 PM »
My sister's birthday is 11th September. Yeah, every year, even here in OZ, it's a big deal for another reason. It ruined pretty much every birthday in her early teens. She makes a point of saying her bithday is on the 11th of September in the hope that people don't twig it's also September 11


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Re: Impromptu memorial?
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2013, 10:10:10 PM »
My mother died 10 days before my 6th birthday and for years, my dad would be so maudlin around the time that he would remember at the last minute.  I don't remember a good birthday as a kid because there seemed to be a pall over the house


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Re: Impromptu memorial?
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2013, 10:16:43 PM »
I don't see a problem with the case in the original post.  It sounds like this woman worked with the kids and probably meant something to them?  So I think acknowledging her was quite suitable.

It doesn't sound like the fake graduation was a particularly meaningful event to begin with, just something fun for the kids to do and cute for the parents to see -- I doubt that having it interrupted briefly by acknowledging something bigger really disrupted the kids' lives all that much.

Personally, I'd see acknowledging this woman's work with the children's class as pretty darned important in comparison.


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Re: Impromptu memorial?
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2013, 10:14:39 AM »
I think it was appropriate for them to acknowledge the loss of a key church member who had ties to the children. If she worked with the children and would have normally been present at this event it would have seemed very odd if they hadn't said something.

It's just unfortunate that the person speaking wasn't able to complete his comments and end with something along the lines of "she will be a missed member our church family and we will always be greatfull for the positive impact she had on so many young members of our congregation."

When you say their achievement was eclipsed, was less time dedicated to acknowleging their achievements?


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Re: Impromptu memorial?
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2013, 11:06:35 AM »
This event doesn't strike me as something hugely important, probably not even something the kids will be old enough to remember. So while it was unfortunate that the speaker broke down and the event was not tied up well at the end, I don't think he was rude or that the kids will be scarred for life over it.


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Re: Impromptu memorial?
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2013, 12:41:57 PM »
I don't find this inappropriate at all. I think it's a fitting memorial at a ceremony that would have meant a lot to this woman.

I think if the church tried to make EVERYTHING about this woman, I would find it a bit tacky.

The summer after my first year in college, a sister in my sorority died in a car accident. I'll call her Heather. (A bit of BG on the sorority, it was a service organization associated with my chosen major.) She was an upperclassman, but had just gone through the class with me the year before, and I was looking forward to seeing her again. I was able to go to her funeral, which was nice. She had been an amazing musician, and was honored by most of our school of music joining her.

In a month, we came back to school. And everything was about this girl. A vocal minority of my sorority wanted to make the "Heather Jones Memorial Scholarship". They wanted to donate instruments to the college and have name plates added to the cases saying that it was in memory of Heather. They wanted to do EVERYTHING in memory of Heather. It overshadowed everything else we did that year. We ended up arguing so much about it that there was a huge rift in the group.

On the other hand, the first concert of the year, the head of the department (and also one of the band directors) said a few words about her. He was in tears by the end. It was touching, and even her family was moved by the memorial. There was an empty seat at the head of her section for her for that one concert. And then that was the end of it. All the public knew was that there was this touching memory of her which was very nice.


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Re: Impromptu memorial?
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2013, 09:14:50 AM »
I find it really spooky that my sister phones me for our parents' birthdays, wedding anniversary and other significant life dates, with a "I'm thinking of Mum today" or "It would have been their 79th wedding anniversary today". And of course I am expecting it to happen for days beforehand.

I have tried saying things like "I think of them often, not just on special days" which is true, (especially about Mum as she taught me many of the art and craft skills I use daily,) but it just goes straight over her head.  I guess it is one of those things I will just have to put up with as her reminding me about the dates probably upsets me less that it would upset her if I point blank said "Please don't do it."

Captain Hastings

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Re: Impromptu memorial?
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2013, 02:56:05 PM »
When you say their achievement was eclipsed, was less time dedicated to acknowleging their achievements?

Probably not. It was so long ago that I don't remember the details clearly; I'm not even sure what the deceased woman's role with the group was. I'm sure part of my discomfort was colored by the fact that displays of emotion Simply Weren't Done in my house (especially by Manly Men!) so seeing a grown man cry in front of an audience was sort of shocking and awkward for me (I have a much healthier perspective nowadays.) Interesting, I'd never really thought about that before.