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Funeral Etiquette

 It was a late September night and I had just arrived at the funeral home to supervise the evening visiting hours.  Everything was going normal and quiet until about 8 o'clock.  All of a sudden there was a very loud commotion in the chapel.  It turns out that the daughter of the deceased (who claims to have taken care of him during his sickness) didn't like the fact that her brothers instructed the funeral director to put the father's glasses  on him.  She took it upon herself to take her fathers glasses and break them.

Now not being in the chapel I don't know exactly what happened, from what I gather one of her brothers tried to stop her.  Well, it erupted into a fist fight with cops being called.  Now if this isn't bad enough when the police arrived, after cursing at them and demanding to talk to a sergeant.  She decided to show the police exactly where she claims her brother had hit her.  Doing this she pulled down the top of her dress and exposed herself to the whole funeral home.  Eventually the family settled things on their own.   funeral0102-01

Proper etiquette dictates that the only reason you cancel a previously R.S.V.P.ed dinner invitation is for your death or someone else's death.  In a strange twist of coincidence, George hosts a dinner party in which all three couples experience a recent death thus making the topic of thier dinner conversation a mutually shared interest.  No faux pas on anyone's part but just an ironic story.

About 3 years ago a new rector was installed in my church.  He and his wife were invited to a number of duty dinners to meet fellow ministers, prominent members of the parish, etc.  I invited them to a fun dinner at my home to meet only fun people.  The rector was interested in news reporting, so I invited a reporter.   His wife loved fashion so I invited soneone from the industry.   None of the other guests were from the parish. Everyone accepted a month in advance.

The Friday before the Thursday dinner a tragedy occured.  The brother of a parishioner, in a quarrel with his wife, murdered their two children and then committed suicide.   The wife had escaped.   The brother flew to the city where his brother lived and proceeded to arrange for the funeral.    Needless to say, he introduced himself as a member of our parish, which was correct.   However, all week our rector had to deal with phone calls from the parishioner and the church where the services would be held.  The rector mentioned to me at church that Sunday, how much he looked forward to the fun dinner. 

On Monday I received a call from the first couple.   The husband's mother had died and they were in Buffalo for the funeral, but would be back for the fun supper.   On Thursday afternoon, the day of the dinner, I received a call from Alice of the other fun couple.   She told me that she was calling from the home of an old friend who she was looking in on because he hadn't been answering the phone.   He was dead and Alice was waiting by the body for the ambulance, she hoped to have enough time to change.

The first guests in the door were the rector and his wife and Alice's husband ,the reporter.   The rector ordered a non alcoholic drink, it was Lent, the others,wine.   Before I could make the drinks, the phone rang. "That maybe Alice, maybe they've picked up the body and she's on her way!"  I answered the phone and it was the parishioner arranging his brother's funeral.   "Is the rector there?  My brother's funeral is for tomorrow and his wife won't release the body! I must speak with him."  The rector said, "So much for Lent, I'll have a Scotch."   Several days later I received a pleasant note saying "thank you", for an unusual dinner party where death was the topic.    funeral0925-00

Page Last Updated May 15, 2007