No Atheists At Memorials For Children?


The Los Angeles Times is running an interesting opinion piece, tying the memorial for the Newtown victims with church-state separation issues (among other things). It’s worth reading, and worth commenting on. They 1) note the ecumenical nature of the service, 2) assert that a non-religious memorial would have been somehow incomplete and off-putting, and 3) note the lack of complaint by atheist groups about the inclusion of religious text at a memorial held at a secular school. It’s as if they are surprised that atheist groups haven’t reacted to this funeral like, say, the Westboro Baptist Church has. (The WBC is not mentioned in the story.)

I was moved to comment at the LA Times site:

A few years ago, my atheist brother died; his atheist children and atheist siblings, myself included, were offended by, but did not object to, blatantly religious elements at his memorial. I could have gone on at length about how my brother’s good works grew from his atheism, from his understanding that he, not some god, was the power that could make the world better for the children he loved. That his actions, not prayers, made a difference.
His friends and neighbors knew he was an atheist, but not everyone did, and (it is the dominant, privileged culture, after all) christian messages were featured by many of the speakers. From the perspective of my brother’s children, this was inappropriate. I agree. But it would also have been inappropriate for us to choose that moment to make a stand. There was something far more important happening–we were comforting one another, knowing we would never see my brother, their father, again.
The fact that there are no explicitly atheistic elements at a funeral does not mean there are no atheists there. It does not mean that atheists don’t find some of the religious messages inappropriate. We (I speak for myself, at least) recognize that this is how the religious grieve. We let them, as we wish they would let us. It would be nice if my own funeral were non-theistic… but at that point, I won’t be able to control what happens.

What are your own thoughts? I was limited at the Times by character count, and perhaps by the need to speak to a different audience than reads here. Feel free to respond, both here and there.

Comments

  1. badgersdaughter says

    As humans, we feel a deep need to mark occasions with rituals. In this culture, we mark deaths with funerals, and funerals have typically been the business of the community religion. Atheists have few rituals and those that they have are influenced by the rituals common in the culture and community. I think that during a time when people are emotionally vulnerable, it’s somewhat of a comfort to be able to rely on those who are accustomed to administering the associated rituals. Apart from that, we tend to view the religious funeral as the default if the person is religious, or if the community is.

    As an atheist, the funerals I’ve been involved in for the deaths of friends and family members have been religious ones. The dead people were religious, or had religious families and communities. My mother’s family are atheists (except for my brother), but she was religious, so we had a religious funeral (that everyone complained about, but you have to know my family). My father, an agnostic content to “go along to get along” so well that he was a respected church elder despite his pastor knowing he was an agnostic, also had a church funeral, because he specifically asked for one. The pastor asked me, awkwardly, “I know you’re a nonbeliever, but would you like to participate?” I asked her if she thought I seriously intended not to participate in my own father’s funeral, and I think she was embarrassed, and I was sorry for that, but I couldn’t let her think that I would refuse to honor my father, God or no God. At such a time the wishes of my father and brother seemed more important than my making a principled stand against religion.

  2. Chrisetti says

    Agreed, there is a time and a place for indignant reaction, although you have to ask whether the Goddists would be so accomodating if a memorial service was held without mention of religion.

  3. frog says

    The attitude I took when my father died was that the person whose emotions needed the most coddling was my mother.

    My father was, I suspect, an atheist–or at the very least no more than a vague deist. He had broken with the Catholic church years before his death. But my mom was still religious–and became somewhat moreso immediately after Dad’s death–and she wanted a Catholic funeral.

    My sister (agnostic) and I (atheist) decided (a) this wasn’t a fight we wanted to have with our grieving mother, and (b) Dad was dead anyway, so he wouldn’t know, and (c) even if he had known and discussed it prior to his death, we were sure he would have said, “Do what makes your mother feel better.”

    So Catholic funeral it was. And since Dad was a judge, we got bagpipers and a police escort and all sorts of extra churchly pomp. It gave comfort to Mom, and that was the important thing.

    If by some terrible tragedy I or my sister predecease our mother, we will have a Catholic funeral, for Mom’s sake. If Mom goes first, we will have a Catholic funeral for her because it’s what she would have wanted. But if Mom is already gone when one of us dies, then my sister and I want secular funerals, and have expressed this to each other. My friends know I’m an atheist, and I would expect them to respect that.

  4. Jim Mauch says

    We understand that we will not have to look up from hell and endure the impudence of our being force fed god at our own funerals. At that point our religious friends and relatives will have their day. The athiest battle will wait for another day.

  5. Kevin K says

    I think you pretty much nailed it.

    Although I wonder what the reaction would be if verses from the Koran were added to the memorial?

  6. jacobfromlost says

    To be fair, some religious messages at funerals can be quite upsetting.

    My grandmother commented offhandedly in the parking lot before my aunt’s funeral that people who die as a result of alcoholism don’t get into heaven (my aunt had a long history of alcoholism). She didn’t flat out SAY she would burn in hell for all eternity…but that was what the disapproval in the shaking of her head said.

    After my great grandmother’s funeral, my great grandfather wondered allowed, over and over, if she might be in hell because she refused to go to church with him on Sunday. (As far as I know she was a believer, but she both hated to leave the house, and avoided all those people at church who were, to be fair, mean-spirited and hateful.)

    A question we might as as atheists is if any believers felt it necessary at these funerals to adhere to the letter of their beliefs and ask the tough questions about who among the victims ended up in hell for having the wrong theology here or there, or not accepting Jesus (I believe at least one nonChristian child was among the dead). Were there no “true Christians” at these funerals because they didn’t point out who was now burning in hell?

  7. Daniel Polowetzky says

    As the comments demonstrate, atheists are decent sympathetic people not disposed to disrupting the mourning rituals of grieving people.

    Furthermore, atheists will be present for those suffering a personal loss even if this involves inconsistent world views, as most decent people would be for their friends.

  8. noastronomer says

    My brother-in-law passed away six years ago after a short battle with melanoma. He was not explicitly an atheist but we talked about death and he stated he was not a ‘believer’. His family though, needed that crutch to get them through the grief. The service was heavy on the christian message and not only did I not keep my mouth shut I sang with everybody else.

    Mike.

  9. jamessweet says

    Character count limited or not, your comment is excellent and says just what needs to be said.

    A close friend of me and my wife died just before Christmas of 2010. Because of her grandmother and other family members, it was understood that it would be Catholic funeral, at a Catholic church, with a Catholic priest and all explicitly theistic messages. I seethed a bit when the priest injected some “This god stuff is totes real and you all should believe in it too” crap, but just as you say, I did not say anything as it was not the appropriate time and place.

    But there was an appropriate time and place: A few days before the official funeral, my wife and I rented the upstairs of a local pub and held a little secular memorial of our own. We probably could have done more — we didn’t reserve time for anybody to speak, we just had a buffet and a bar and a projector showing pictures of Nicole and some music my wife had chosen. We invited Nicole’s mother and her fiancee (agnostics, I believe, though I have never had that conversation with them; they are certainly not Catholic) and they both thanked us so many times for putting it together.

    Just as you say, people need to grieve in their own way. I don’t begrudge the religious their way of grieving (well, maybe a little bit, but not nearly enough to prevent them from doing what they feel they need to do!), but we also need to find our own way. I can’t say if there were similar secular memorials for some of the Sandy Hook students, but the point is that — Christianity being the dominant culture, just as you say — the non-religious may very well have found their own ways to grieve and the author of the piece simply hasn’t seen it.

  10. says

    Funerals are private occasions, and they tend to be organized by relatives or friends of the deceased who have been designated, by either the will or some other tradition or family decision. It’s generally understood that a) everyone who goes to a funeral is there to pay respects and console each other, not to take stands on pet issues; and b) whoever is charged with organizing the funeral has to be left free to do their duty (see “a”), because there’s no do-overs if people get into arguments and things don’t work as needed.

    So yeah, if you’re not organizing a funeral, you pretty much have to take it as you see it. The most important thing, at that time and place, is paying respects and sharing the grief.

  11. wondering says

    Agreed 100%. My dad was never religious, but my mom is. When he died, there was no hope, or really, any thought, of there being a non-religious service or wake. We had to do what we could to get mom through her grief, so religious service it was. Even if there was the occasional eye-rolling going on behind her back. (I love my mom, but faith sometimes moves her to say ridiculous things.)

  12. Pierce R. Butler says

    … the lack of complaint by atheist groups about the inclusion of religious text at a memorial held at a secular school.

    If you want a tribalist jerk to exploit the opportunity of a mass murder by climbing onto a pile of children’s corpses and shouting hostility at all others, you might locate one among the atheists, but your best bet is to find a red-blooded, two-fisted hyperchristian.

  13. arcinOH says

    My great uncle died in 2011; in the nearly 70 years he had been married to my great aunt, who was Catholic, he attended church for weddings and funerals. Although he never stated he was atheist or agnostic, I don’t think he believed any of it, and used to joke that the church would come down if he ever went in for a regular service.

    Despite this, his service was in my great aunt’s Catholic Church. Even knowing I am atheist, my family asked me to participate in the service (laying the prayer cloth on the casket), and despite thinking it’s a bunch of hooey, I, shockingly enough, helped lay the cloth on the casket as requested.

    My great aunt was comforted, no one made the stink eye at me for not crossing myself or not speaking the Lord’s Prayer.

    As stated above, there’s an appropriate time and place. A funeral for a murdered child is not the time and place.

  14. says

    My mother (91 and counting) recently left the Catholic church in disgust, decided no church had any better, and has declared herself a humanist with no interest in having a religious funeral. Since we have a lot of still religious relatives, I had her write me a letter with her wishes for what she wants her funeral to look like. She had a lot of fun coming up with texts (not religious ones) and a non-religious location and instructions about the memorial celebration. Not that I expect her to die any time soon, but it feels good to have it covered if anyone says, “well, of course, you have get a priest.” No, I don’t. Mom didn’t want one.

  15. says

    Gwynnyd: Good for you and for her!

    My niece’s husband’s step-mother (it’s OK, I’ll wait while you sort that out) died after a pretty horrific battle with pancreatic cancer. We had a nice little viewing at a place at the cemetery. Her husband quite pointedly and specifically made sure there was no religious talk, prayers, or platitudes. Despite having quite alot of — well — asshole god-botherers at the event.

    When we were done, they took her to the family crypt. And he said to everyone “you can come if you want, but we’re not going to say anything. No prayers.” So, everyone but the immediate family left.

    If you can make your own wishes known, that’s what you should do.

  16. edmundog says

    When my quite Catholic grandmother died, the priest spent some time at the wake banging on about Jesus and how sad it was that some people didn’t accept him the way she did. When he asked if anyone else had anything to say in memory of the deceased, my Jewish aunt stood up and spoke quite eloquently about how she always felt accepted by my grandmother, her mother-in-law, right from the beginning. It was pretty pointed at the priest, and I hope he felt bad about it. I know her Jewish sons and atheist and protestant nieces and nephews were grateful to her for it.

  17. Rich Woods says

    The only funeral I’ve ever been to was my father’s, earlier this year. Neither he nor my mum were particularly religious (call them cultural Christians, since I do remember them both answering ‘No, not really’ when a neighbour facing his own inevitable deterioration asked if they believed in God and Jesus — nor did he believe).

    My dad had worked with the vicar when she used to be a doctor, and liked and trusted her, so he asked her to officiate at his funeral. She didn’t push my mum on any particular aspect of the planning of the funeral service, and indeed kept it short and to the point, as we wanted. There were hymns and prayers, which I stood up or sat still for, without otherwise getting involved, although I noticed that the vicar couldn’t look at me once she’d seen my disinterest (unfortunately I was positioned right in front of the pulpit). I spent the religiously waffling parts of the service looking at a complicated geometric design on the far wall, occupying myself by calculating its area, something by which I could distance myself from any strong emotion. I paid attention to the eulogy (it would have been dishonorable to my dad and to my family to do otherwise) and I’m grateful to the vicar for keeping that simple, accurate and light-hearted. However it was all I could do to suppress a laugh when she melodramatically marched across the crem, placed a hand on Dad’s coffin and did the ‘We commit…’ bit.

    Anyway, I got off lightly. Anyone who has had to deal with greater exhibitions of religiosity at such a time has my full sympathy and my best wishes.

  18. Augustus Carp says

    My very religious, evangelical mother died suddenly in May this year. She was a recent convert to her faith from what could best be described as indifference. The funeral was arranged to be held in the church she attended and the place was absolutely packed to the rafters. I was very distressed by my mother’s sudden departure, as were my fervent evangelical siblings. I am in an “out group” of one in my immediate family, and I was absolutely appalled to be on the receiving end of a direct, and personal rebuke from the minister leading the service (a friend of my mothers whose air ticket the family paid for to attend) for lacking faith AND being a scientist

    I was so angry that he wasn’t prepared to just shut up and leave these hateful things unsaid, that I was seriously tempted to walk out – and I think I would have done just that if my wife hadn’t been playing some unaccompanied Bach on her cello. I hope I shall not meet this “man of god” again.

  19. Slaughter says

    Augustus, even in that setting, I might have found it hard to stifle myself. I was in an emergency room not long ago over a minor thing, and the attendant, as part of admissions, asked my religion. The questions was so unexpected that I blurted out a laugh — and explained that I was an atheist.

  20. dgrasett says

    When my husband died, I laid down the law. I did not want to hear one word, not ONE WORD, about it being anything to do with god. There wasn’t any god, and neither of us had been believers for considerable years – and only wishy-washy milketoast before that. I raised my daughters with as little goddyness as possible in our society – they do not appear to have ever fallen victim to a church. This is the point – we lived, at the time of his death, in a small village in rural Ontario. The church(s) are the prime source of social activity. When we moved there, I joined the Agricultural Society and volunteered vigorously. I became a red hatter. I helped, donated and volunteered to any good work that was reasonable to me. He was persuaded to join the Lion’s Club and rather enjoyed it. They all came to his funeral, and I appreciated their coming. The red hatters especially, since it is the prime activity of red hatters to have a good time, and I needed them there. I found a friend who has become a minister in the united church to deliver, not a eulogy, but a celebration of his life. It made it bearable. No one came up to me and talked about ‘a better place’ or ‘heaven’.
    I have always had a high opinion of small town Ontario. If anything, this made it higher.
    Yes, small towns are narrow minded and gossipy. But I have found that the narrow-minded-ness is from lack of opportunity to discover differences. And the gossip is because they care about their neighbours, and know that they are also cared for. That way, everyone gets to know who needs help – and the help is forthcoming.

  21. johnnyau gratin says

    When my father (a lifelong Catholic) died back in February the priest at the funeral mass said that only Christians could feel joy about anyone’s life or sorrow over their passing. He then told all assembled that non-Christians are not actually human at all since they have no basis for human feelings. It was all I could do to remain silent and seated so as not to upset grieving relatives.

  22. garysturgess says

    Nonreligious funerals are performed by celebrants in Australia all the time. My Mum died a couple of years ago. Mum wasn’t an atheist, but more sort of “non-specific”; the celebrant that performed my wedding service also did Mum’s funeral. There’s plenty of non-religious poetry that is appropriate at funerals, and my brother just talked about Mum’s life. Of course Australia isn’t steeped in religion the way the US is, but you can certainly have a secular funeral that needn’t offend any religious mourners.

    That said, while I consider myself a reasonably assertive (“militant”, if you must) atheist, I’m not going to start an argument at a funeral about “all the god crap”, and (analogously) I found President Obama’s speech about Newtown to be moving – if all sermons contained their references to Yahweh as little as Obama did, I’d find them far less tiresome. (Which is not to say that I don’t understand the cynicism as to whether that will actually result in any major changes – but I do think his grief was genuine).

  23. left0ver1under says

    I see no difference between attempts to impose religion at your brother’s funeral and mormons “baptizing” dead jews (and others). Both have no effect on the dead, but both are offensive and insulting to the living, to the friends and family of the dead.

    And in many cases, that’s intentional. Remember Pat Tillman’s brother and his justifiable outburst at the funeral?

  24. Tapetum, Raddled Harridan says

    I’ve had to deal with about four funerals in my adult life. Two were unremarkable. Mild mainstream religious funerals (Episcopal) for mild, mainstream religious believers.

    The other two were rather more bothersome. One, the funeral of a practicing pagan, who died abruptly and at a fairly young (though adult) age. His parents, evangelicals, barged in, took over the funeral proceedings from the shocked and barely functional wife, and set up a service that all but blatantly said that he was in hell, and that it was all the wife’s fault. She’s still not over it, two-plus years later.

    The other was my father-in-law, officiated by a local Pentacostal minister, because that’s where my FiL had inexplicably gone to church immediately after his wife died (up to that point, he’d been Lutheran). The officiant gave a pointed eulogy that was far more about how all the other family members present weren’t properly baptized, and thereby were hell-bound if they didn’t get right with God, than anything to do with the man he was burying.

    Both funerals were simply excuses by the righteous religious to abuse those who didn’t agree with them in a context where it was difficult-to-impossible to fight back.

    I’ve never yet seen a non-believer do anything a tenth as offensive at a funeral.

  25. eowyn says

    My mother’s funeral, a couple of years ago, was at her local church. I stood up and sat down along with everyone else during the service. But I very deliberately did wear my Surly-ramics celestial tea-pot necklace.

  26. Shplane, Spess Alium says

    Fortunately, I’m pretty young. But if it seems like I’m going to die for any reason at any point in time in the near future, I will do everything in my power to see that I have a nonreligious funeral. If I have to die, I’d like to die making a point.

    I certainly wouldn’t oppose religious activity at anyone ELSE’s funeral, though, unless I knew the person well enough to know that it would upset them, or knew that someone else involved was upset by it.

  27. stanpolson says

    At my grandmother’s funeral, the preacher gave a sermon on how non-believers go to hell. I was there with my wife (also an atheist), who was pregnant, and we had to listen to his spiel about how we were going to be lit on fire forever and that was a good thing, while trying to mourn my grandmother. The worst part is that, as far as I could tell, the preacher had never even met my grandmother. He was just some friend of a friend.

    Now, my grandmother was Church of Christ, and she wouldn’t have necessarily disapproved of the message. My family seemed pleased with the sermon, and expressed as much to the preacher, so I just let it go. I mean, making a scene would be crass, obviously. I wanted to approach the preacher afterward and tell him that I found the sermon deeply insulting and careless, but I quickly moved past it as we went out to the burial and the more earnest grieving with family came underway.

    I’m not disagreeing with the article here. In fact, I agree with it very much. I just felt moved to tell my little story here, since it’s one that I have precious few opportunities to tell elsewhere. I loved my grandmother very much, and I feel robbed by that preacher. I’ve had similar experiences at funerals all my life, but that one was the most brutal. If I had no other reason at all, the impact of that moment in my life would be enough to prove to me that religion is false.

  28. garysturgess says

    Presumably the argument is that atheists have little comfort to offer at funerals.

    I have been to the funerals of fairly religious folks, moderately religious folks, and irreligious folks. It is my observation that there isn’t much comfort to be had period when a loved one passes away, and certainly telling fairy tales has never made me feel any better.

  29. Cuttlefish says

    Agreed. Little comfort to be found anywhere.

    I was looking for something I wrote a while ago, a comment on the old Pharyngula. Fortunately, Suirauqa saved it … http://ohthehumanityofitall.blogspot.com/2010/08/beautiful-sentiments.html

    How do atheists face death?

    All too recently, I was at the bedside of a dying atheist. He was not conscious, so I can’t speak to how he himself faced death, but I can tell you how his atheist daughters and atheist brothers did.

    To the extent that anything offered comfort, it was the knowledge that the doctors were doing what could be done, and the knowledge that he was not suffering. The hospital chaplains were of no use at all, not even to those gathered who *are* believers. There is no way to put a positive spin on losing someone so early; no way to tell a 16-year old girl that this is part of God’s plan and have her just accept it.

    Of course, the families of other patients offered to pray for us, and assured us that God is great, and that if it is his will, our brother, our father, will recover. I assure you, even when you take it as a sincere expression of their best wishes, assurances of God’s mercy start to ring hollow very quickly.

    How does an atheist child face her father’s death? As bravely as I have seen anyone face anything. There was genuine beauty in the things his daughters said, and none of it relied on an afterlife, or a heaven, or a god. None of it denied the hurt, the heartbreak, the incredible pain of losing a father at such a young age. Death’s impact should not be denied; claiming he is in a better place is a slap in the face of the daughter who knows his best place is back home, helping with homework, mowing the lawn, reaching the things on the high shelf.

    How does an atheist face death? By facing it, not by denying or diminishing it. Not by turning it into a transition to some other reality. Not by making up a story to make themselves feel better. It hurts because it’s real, it’s permanent, it’s the end. It should hurt.

    And now he lives on only in our memory, and in our changed lives. That is his legacy; that is the good he continues to do. He’s not looking down and guiding; he doesn’t wait for us to join him. If we love him, we can do our best to fight for his causes, to continue his work.

    In the real world. The only one we have.

  30. fastlane says

    You could have been a little more snarky, and noted that atheists, unlike xians, don’t try to take advantage of other peoples’ grief to proselytize or otherwise impose their views on others, particularly the deceased.

    But then, I’m feeling grumpy today.

  31. Psychopomp Gecko says

    The only thing that bothered me about religion at my stepfather’s funeral was the preacher, a member of our own family, tried to turn it into a “come to Jesus” moment. Not just having religious elements, but actually trying to use the occassion to get more butts in pews. He might as well have stood up there and said that this death was a good time to think about the cool, refreshing taste of Coca-Cola because it had the same dignity.

    Hell, that’s what most of the street preaching is anyway. A bunch of Christians standing around as Christians pass by, yelling about Jesus. They just want those particular asses in their particular seats giving their particular church money.

    It’s more marketing than morality.

  32. PatrickG says

    Both the comment you left on that article and the comment you dredged up from Pharyngula were just superbly written. I’ll be shamelessly stealing your words for my own private conversations about mortality and atheism (something I get asked about a surprising amount, relative to other issues… makes me wonder if I have to worry!).

    On a completely unrelated note, and speaking of Pharyngula: the front-page logo for Cuttlefish has been replaced by the logo of the Bearded One. Thought you might like to know.

  33. Acolyte of Sagan says

    The very first funeral I attended was that of my step-uncle’s daughter who died of cot-death at 8 weeks, and was held in a Catholic church.
    I was only 10 at the time and already highly cynical about religion: I was sitting quietly through the service trying to make sense of what the priest was babbling on about when he said something about god ‘receiving her into his arms and forgiving her sins’. I instantly jumped up and screamed at the priest “What fucking sins? She was only 2 months old, she couldn’t sin, you lying bastard”.
    The reaction it caused taught me that the religious care more about the reputation of their god than that of a tiny, blameless child, but having seen how much my outburst had hurt her parents – although I couldn’t understand why – I have ever-since bit my tongue throughout services and kept my critiques for a time when emtions aren’t running so highly.

  34. Cuttlefish says

    Yeah–working on a tech issue, PatrickG, so I left it up that way for a bit so that the powers that be could see the problem.

  35. says

    note the lack of complaint by atheist groups about the inclusion of religious text at a memorial held at a secular school

    When asked why I, as an atheist, am loud, abrasive and “angry”, this is the kind of thing I often point at. If we’re not loud, were completely ignored. If we don’t yell and scream at the slightest provocation, it’s taken as consent to any degree of violation of our rights. I’m a loud atheist because theists keep telling me I have to be.

  36. says

    The last time I wanted to cause somebody real, physical pain was the vicar officiating at my grandad’s funeral.

    Here was this idiot talking about “sure and certain knowledge of resurrection to eternal life through our lord jesus christ” or some such bollocks. I don’t think he had ever even met my grandad (who in all the years I had known him, had never to my knowledge so much as set foot in a church).

    I wanted to kick this man to a bloody pulp; and I knew that if I tried, it would all be over way too soon.

    Nothing since has changed my opinion that the idea of an afterlife is the nastiest, most toxic, most profoundly anti-human concept that any diseased mind has spewed forth.

    I have one surviving grandparent and will be pleading with my parents please to arrange a civil funeral for her — otherwise I might have to commemorate her passing elsewhere.

  37. Crudely Wrott says

    I composed the following but was not able to post it at LA Times, a failure that bothers me only a little bit:

    The tears that have fallen from these atheist eyes are every bit as hot and bitter as those shed by the “faithful”.

    In the past three years I have seen my dad and my mom put into the ground and my loneliness is keen, it is sharp. Some friends and schoolmates are also gone. What remains, beyond my tears, are the memories of their lives. They still live, after a fashion, in my mind and I shall not forget them. That there is no trace of them left other than that is only mildly troublesome. I’ve buried pets too. Death is not scary. Life is. Especially when there are people who will kill you if you don’t worship (worship!?) like they do.

    Atheists are everywhere and religious people should not worry. We are mostly harmless.

    Yes, I grieve for the loss of those who loved me and who I loved in return. Thing is, I’ve only lost their physical presence. Oh, for a hug! In the more important ways I still have them like I always did. What they said, what they taught me, what they stood for are locked away in my memory for as long as that memory survives. I will strive to pass that memory on to my progeny and those realities will not only outlive Mom and Dad and the others, they will outlive me. So doing, I know that I do not love in vain. Neither did those went before me nor those go after. It is sufficient comfort.

  38. Yellow Thursday says

    My stepdad and my mom died this year, him in March, her in October. Their pastor officiated both funerals. I would have rather had a non-religious memorial for my mom, but that’s not what she would have wanted. I sat quietly through both while the televangelist-wannabe made goddy noises at us. He told us that “death came into the world through sin” and “they’re together again, smiling down on us.” He also made various noises about how we’re saved through faith, not works. And how “we all fall short of the Grace of God” (you could almost hear the capitalizations in his voice), but we won’t think any less of you if you haven’t come to church in a while. I managed to get through both services without laughing out loud or yelling at him. I’m not sure how.

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