Expressions of Concern

An expression of concernFinally, an end to the blur that was this week, and last. The memorial service is over, and apart from a few lingering relatives everyone has returned to their respective worlds. Frankly, I don't want to do this again, ever.

Not that funerals aren't interesting. They're studies in human nature; they expose the variety of motives that cause people to attend events such as this. Some feel an obligation to attend, even though they never really knew the departed. Others attend purely for the sake of appearances, because although they knew the deceased quite well, they considered her despicable. Some are largely ambivalent, and show up simply because they have nothing better to do with their time.

The remaining attendees are those who have suffered an actual loss—or feel for those who have—and are there out of respect, or love, or both. They aren't there simply because their husbands, wives, or significant others have dictated it; they're there because they want to be. People in this category can generally be identified by the content of their conversation when the service is over, and everyone is standing around eating cake. If they mention the departed—in a genuinely positive way—at all, this is a good sign. An expression of concern for those surviving the deceased is a good sign, too.

But drifting around the room after the memorial service, I noticed that most conversation had nothing to do with the departed. I heard countless expressions of concern; it's just that the concern seemed to be aimed elsewhere.

Expressions of concern regarding who's wearing what.

Expressions of concern regarding the morality of someone in the room.

Expressions of concern regarding the morality of someone not in the room.

Expressions of concern regarding the final destination of the deceased.

Expressions of concern regarding the coffee, or cake.

Expressions of concern regarding who's going where for lunch afterward.

I've heard it said that a memorial service should be a celebration of life, and not a weepfest for those left behind. I can see the logic in that, but on the other hand, I don't think the service is intended as a forum for gossip, slander, or flippant remarks more appropriate for a stand-up comedy routine. I'm not saying everyone should be wearing sackcloth, but it seems a memorial service ought to be a bit more restrained and thoughtful than the average high-school reunion.


No comments:

Post a Comment