field trip to a cemetery

Funeral April 2009

Getting dressed today was like putting on a costume to play a part; black shoes, black trousers and black shirt. It made me think of my past experiences with funerals. I even put on ties in those days. One always looks one best for the dead. Is it a sign of respect? Is it for the dead or for the living? As I was preparing to go it seemed less and less inappropriate. I had taken notes on who the person was and their close relatives. I went through a few things in my head in case any asked me who I was, “only met a couple of times and happened to come across the obituary when I was looking for the death notice of a friend of my family’s”. I convinced myself that it was entirely plausible for me to be there.

I looked outside, miserable, how appropriate. There was enough wind to annoy you if you are attempting to use an umbrella to shield yourself from the drizzle.

I arrived late and as I was asking directions from a man at the gate of the cemetery the question of how someone with my ‘story’ should be feeling and acting. ‘Should’ is a funny word in these situations. How should one act? There are always a range of relationships to the deceased at a funeral. Each of these relationships can have different reactions to the situation. Then there are the ones that surprise and are more emotionally overt or less than you would expect considering their connection. I didn’t notice anyone like that at this funeral.

When I got to the grave site the coffin was just being carried from the hearse which made me feel a bit self conscious. A couple of people looked at me with an inquisitive look but several people were looking around, as though they were either bored or just didn’t know to do with themselves.

I was standing at the back so wasn’t able to see everyone, even though it was not a big group. From what I could see, there seemed to be quite a few people who were rather indifferent to the situation. Most were dressed ‘appropriately’ in dark clothing.

As the minister spoke I couldn’t help but wonder if this way of speaking was part of the training. He sounded like almost every other minister that I’ve heard speak to an audience. This is based on the little that I could hear because of the wind, which had picked up, blowing through the crowd.

The funeral directors took note of people that were getting wet and produced several umbrellas in assistance. After the minister had finished speaking people started to disperse, but not before one man made a joke that a couple of others laughed at. From what I could tell, this did not produce any particular negative reactions in the crowd. One woman then made a point of connecting with a young man. She may have been one of the sisters of the deceased. Then a slightly older man came to them and made sure that they had a ride. He seemed to be ‘Mr Practical’ in this situation.

As people were starting to disperse I began to feel as though I would soon stand out, as I had nobody to talk to. Most other people were in groups of various sizes conversing with each other. So I decided it was a good time to make my exit.

My nose was running, presumably because of the wind and rain, however, it did remind me of the fact that when I was grieving a loss of my own a long time ago my nose ran quite a lot, seemingly as a substitute to crying at times.


~ by Matt on May 4, 2009.

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