Considering how much time Goths generally spend wandering around graveyards and being all Queen of the Night about things, you might think we’d be better prepared for funerals than the average Joe. However, when it comes to me, you’d be wrong-I got to my 33rd year of life without ever having been to a funeral, which was largely down to luck, but also down to manipulation-there is at least one funeral that I “should” have gone to, according to my mother, but that I decided to take the “nope” approach to anyway.
As I have only managed to fail dodging three burials since then and will be supporting my friend when she buries her mother at the end of the week, I thought I’d talk about my thoughts on funerals and their general weirdness, which-to be fair-might well be unique to just my family.
So anyway, my first ever funeral at the grand old age of 33 was that of my paternal grandmother, and honestly, I was dreading it more than was reasonable-not because we were close-we weren’t, and she was genuinely not that nice of a person either-but because I never know what the hell I’m going to do next when it comes to crying.
I am one of those people who might start crying because I find a glove, in case the other glove is lonely or someone has cold hands-and yet my morgue humour and general dark streak when it comes to comedy is a mile wide.
So I rocked up with some trepidation with my at-the-time pink hair half-concealed under a black knitted snood with a nifty peacock feather fascinator, intending to look the part if nothing else.
Yeah, you’d better believe this is the look I was going for.
Now, one thing that I quickly learnt is that funerals in our family are weird. We arrived at my late grandmother’s house, where my mother promptly told me to go and raid her jewellery box for the jewellery that had been left to us, before my cousins got the chance to get there and remove anything of value first. We were pushed for time, so I was essentially looting my grandmother’s bedroom in full mourning gear, in front of mirrors hung with black cloths, because-did I mention-my grandmother was an orthodox Jew.
Anyway, after the looting, we had to get into the funeral procession, which again was a very sombre and formal affair due to my grandmother’s beliefs… Except that, nobody was really “mourning” in the wailing and gnashing of teeth sense. Both my father and my uncle, the two offspring of the deceased, were perfectly fine with things-my grandmother was both almost 100 and frankly, not that nice to either of her sons.
In fact, the day after she died, they did a little looting of their own, and spent all of the cash that they could find in her house on the kind of epical night out that only two 60-something morbidly obese heavy drinkers could manage.
The funeral procession was a full works jobbie-a sombre dude carrying some kind of ceremonial stick walking ahead of the cars, everyone stopping to look as we went past and nodding respectfully. Except for this one woman in a mobility cart who clearly had places to be, to the extent that she literally overtook the whole cortege and cut off the lead car in her race to get ahead on the road, and that is when the hysterical laughter started.
Yep, just like this.
…And didn’t end. Come the service, my father, my uncle and I were all quite literally at that stage of hilarity when just a sideways glance from any of us was enough to set the rest of us off. I think it was partially nerves, and on the part of my dad and uncle, the impending windfall of inheriting a house-but giggling is highly contagious too. You probably remember having a school friend over for tea when you were a kid, and all either of you could do was giggle at each other across the dinner table for the duration-and none of us could put a lid on ourselves.
When it came to the hymns, my uncle is either just that bad of a singer or was taking the piss, because my dad and I reached Peak Inappropriate, bright red, gasping for breath levels of hysterical laughter-to the point that the people in the other rows actually thought that my father was sobbing, it was so extreme, so that worked out ok.
At the wake, which involved a lot of surreptitious laughter and eating of bacon rolls because apparently we’re just that disrespectful, we all went our separate ways, and I was left with potentially the most positive first funeral experience that I could have wished for, bar the looting, which I honestly wasn’t really that comfortable with.
When people talk about a good funeral, or even an enjoyable funeral, I think that they generally mean that the send-off was good, the dead person well remembered and everyone had a good time reconnecting and reminiscing-but in my family, a “good” funeral involves a lot of gallows humour, inappropriate behaviour and apparently, hysterical laughter.
A couple of years later it was my uncle’s turn, and he was so fat by his death that he had to have a special giant coffin made for him, which was wheeled in rather than carried because no six normal men would have stood a chance of lifting him, and of course it was all downhill from there.
What are your thoughts on funerals? Is your family hilariously inappropriate too, or much better behaved? Tell me in the comments.