Not a lot of people get to conduct a funeral or a burial. But then again, most people don’t want to. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of what it would be like to conduct a funeral.
When I got word that someone had died, my first duty was to go to their home, comfort them and help them make some funeral arrangements. You would think that making funeral arrangements would be a fairly straight forward thing, but it’s not.
Some families wanted to make a funeral a very celebratory event. I’m talking loud brassy music, multimedia presentations, comody routines and the works. It was my job to help the family plan the funeral so that stayed within the reverent guidelines my church recommended. I still remember the 81 year old aunt that played taps on the bugle at the funeral of each family member. That was important to the family and we had to have it. At another funeral, the family insisted on doing a “family roast” of the dead man, telling all kinds of unsavory stories about him. Then there is the time that family members of the deceased refused to sit next to other family members. It was the classic Hatfields and McCoys kind of funeral, each blaming the other for the death of the man in the casket.
The hardest are the tragic deaths. They are the ones where little children die, or young mothers or fathers are taken before their time. Sometimes it’s the suicide or the murder victim. As the spiritual leader you have to say something that gives comfort to the family and helps them understand that sometimes there are no easy answers for what happened.
I have to say, there is never a dull moment at a funeral. You never know when someone is going to faint, or start screaming at another family member, blaming them for what happened. Sometimes, someone feel a need to get up and give an unplanned talk, even though they aren’t on the program. I’ve seen the falling floral bouquet, the tripping pallbearer, and the fainting mother. I’ve seen more than I ever intended in the 5 years I conducted funerals. But I have to admit that I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.