"This could have gone down as the worst thing I ever experienced at a funeral, but looking back, I think it might be the best. I must preface it first by saying I love the 'Church Lady' character Dana Carvey made famous on Saturday Night Live, waaaay back in the 80's. But that damn, 'Oh, I don't know...could it be SATAN?!' almost got me in trouble at my uncle's funeral.
I was about 19, it was my first funeral, and we were all in this huge church, with an open casket up front surrounded by tons of flowers (Thank god for the flowers, you'll see why). The pastor is giving his sermon, and its general theme is temptation, and how my uncle was a good man who never gave in to it, and he starts on this little run about how we get into it and who leads us there. 'Who is it that leads us onto the path of temptation? Who is that leads us into sin? Who is that strives to have us turn away from god?' And in my head I hear: 'Oh, I don't know...could it be SATAN!?'
And I bust out laughing. In the middle of a church. In the middle of a funeral. In the middle of my still-living ultra religious aunt's husband's funeral. And I couldn't stop. I started pretending I was sneezing and choking to cover up the fact that I was laughing. But I just kept hearing '...could it be SATAN!?' I started saying, "'It's the flowers, it's the flowers!' My mom leaned over and asked me if I needed to leave. As I was scrambling to get out of the pew, she was apologizing to people and saying the flowers were getting to me. I distinctly remember getting sympathetic looks from people as I choked/sneezed my way out of the church.
I ran full-speed as far into the parking lot as I could so the people inside wouldn't hear me busting a gut, and I laughed myself into exhaustion, tears running down my face. When I was able to breathe again, I made my way back and was outside the doors when the service was over. People thought I'd been crying from grief. Some of the ladies patted my hand and said it wasn't my fault my allergies kicked in. Only my mom knew that I'd been laughing hysterically. It took years before I was even able to think about the whole thing without bursting into laughter again. That damned Church Lady."
"The man I have referred to as my stepfather passed after years of suffering from emphysema. He and my mother were never legally married as neither believed in the government being involved in a people's love lives. He passed peacefully in his sleep at home. My mother called both of his children first and then me to inform us he was gone. I was quite surprised when I showed up at their house before his children.
When his kids did arrive his son was understandably too upset to come in but his daughter came in and marched over to her father's corpse and began poking him. She pushed back his cheeks and even tried to pry open his eyelids, stating with no emotion, 'He couldn't have been dead long there's no rigor. Where are the keys to his truck and his wallet?' She proceeded to empty her father's wallet then removed the key to his truck from his keychain. She claimed she was able to recognize the money as being hers that she had let him hold on to (who the hell recognizes mass produced monetary notes?) My mother said nothing to her as we both felt that maybe she was just in shock. She turned to leave, looked at my mother and said, 'I wouldn't bother coming to the funeral if I were you, it's not like you count as family or anything.'
Over the next few days his family bickered and fought over everything and completely blew off all of the man's last wishes. He had asked me 6 months prior to his death to sit down with him and write both his obituary and eulogy. Together we put together the things he wanted to be sure were said. When I gave the obituary and copy of the eulogy to his daughter she promptly waded them up and said, 'Nobody wants to hear your crap you were not family and I had better not see you or your mother at his service.' My mother had spent more than 20 years with this man and had been the one caring for him until his final breath. Later his eldest daughter who he adopted called crying to tell my mother her siblings had informed her they did not care whether she attend her father's funeral or not because she hadn't 'popped out of his pecker' (how disrespectful and crude) like they did. My mother sent her money for gas to make sure she could say goodbye to her dad.
His son owns the house they lived in and informed my 64 years old disabled mother that she needed to be out of the house within a week and she was to ask permission before taking anything even her own possessions. My mother and I did not attend his funeral (which was heartbreaking) as we were warned over and over that his family hated us and would call the police. His daughter and daughter-in-law have continued to harass my mother to the point of her having a mild heart attack. I filed a restraining order on behalf of my mother. This week my husband and I are moving my mom into our tiny home and hoping to help her restart her life with nothing more than her bed and a few changes of clothes they allowed her to keep.
I'm still baffled by how it is that such a wonderful man managed to raise such a worthless excuses for a human being. I'm not a religious person but this event as made me pray that there is someone or something taking note of that woman's actions and has a special seat reserved for her in hell."
"Best thing, funeral: my friend Jeff died a few years ago at age 48 of esophageal cancer. At the funeral, a mutual friend read Jeff's last words, which he had written some weeks before. The message opens with, 'I can't tell you how embarrassing it is not to outlive Keith Richards...'"
"After the funeral service for my aunt we were then heading off to the crematorium to bid her goodbye.
Outside of the church were three funeral cars for the family and the hearse, of course. So when the third car wouldn't start we stuck at the side of the road. Eventually, it was agreed that the car wasn't taking us anywhere so the people in the third car were squeezed into the others. All except for me and my dad.
The driver of the hearse told us to get in. It was surreal. Me and my dad were sat at either side of the coffin, facing backwards. I said something about thinking I would travel in a hearse only once and on that day be oblivious to it.
Daddy dearest thought he would serenade my aunt, who was called Marylin, by singing 'Candle in the Wind.'
As we step out of the hearse after arriving at the crematorium, my dad says, in earshot of everyone, 'So, how do you want her. Rare, medium or well done?'
At that moment I wished it were me in that coffin."
"I was at the funeral of an incredibly popular woman. After noticing what seemed like a never ending line of mourners flowing through the chapel I turned to my brother-in-law and said, 'Gee, when I die there'll only be eight mourners at my funeral.'
Without skipping a beat he said, 'Seven. I won't be there.'"
"Many years ago, a relative of mine who I'll just call 'Jake' died from cancer as a young man, leaving behind a family. At the funeral, an extremely religious woman, a friend of his widow's, came to the front of the church and asked the widow if she could try to resurrect him, right there, right from his coffin, Lazarus-like. It's hard to believe, but then it got worse.
The woman and minister opened the coffin to do the 'resurrection' and she and the minister looked in the coffin for the longest time, while the congregation was understandably very nervous of what was about to happen. Finally, the minister intoned, 'Jake is gone!' We all thought he meant that Jake really was dead, and there was no resurrection going to happen that day. But what he meant was, in fact, 'Jake is gone' He wasn't in the coffin. Somewhere along the line, the funeral home had apparently screwed up - I'm not quite sure where Jake was - he may have been mistakenly cremated or something - but he wasn't in that coffin.
I wish I could be making this up but I am not - I was there, and I was one of the pallbearers and I did notice how light the coffin was; I just figured that was because Jake had lost a lot of weight. This also explains one of the reasons that to this day, 45 years later, I am still distrustful of evangelical Christians."
"This is a little disturbing, so just a warning.
I went to a high school in a small town. Everyone all knew each other pretty well. The handsome, popular guy, the captain of the football team, I'll call him Tom, was a hard partier. He and his best friend John went out drinking, doing drugs and driving fast cars. One night they were racing down a dirt road at about 100mph and John, who was driving, lost control and they wrecked. I can't remember all the details, but I do know Tom was hanging half out the passenger side window and when the car rolled, he was decapitated. It took the police hours to find his head.
People living two blocks away from Tom's family's house heard the mom's screams when she heard the news. The community was in shock. Quite a number of people attended the funeral. I remember standing in line to enter the church when I heard a commotion in front of me, a cry and people talking anxiously. I couldn't see inside but I remember someone ahead of me saying, 'Oh, God,' and several people turned right around and squeezed past me. I grabbed one of them and asked her what was wrong and she whispered that Tom's casket was in the vestibule and was open.
An open casket. He had been decapitated and we all assumed it would be a closed casket. And it was in the vestibule. There was no way you could go through that room without seeing what was in the casket.
His fiancée, Kathy, who was newly pregnant, came to the service and was not told the coffin would be there. She collapsed when she saw it, was taken to another room in the church and revived then was determined to attend the funeral. Everyone thought she wasn't told about the coffin placement because the families were at odds. Kathy's parents were blaming Tom for her 'predicament' and Tom's parents were suggesting Kathy wasn't the innocent girl her parents seemed to think she was.
As to why the coffin was placed there, no one knew, although as we watched Tom's mother deteriorate mentally after his death, we guessed it was her doing. She had loved Tom inordinately, always bragging about his ability on the football field, always remarking on how handsome he was. In her grief, she may have wanted everyone to see him one last time. Perhaps, to her, he looked as handsome in death as in life."
"This is about the worst comment I've ever heard at a funeral. Unfortunately it was the memorial service for my husband of 22 years who died by suicide. He had been increasingly ill for about 5 years with a lung disease and severe, unrelenting depression and succeeded in ending his own life. His cousin's wife, a woman that he had always liked and cared about, came in, and while hugging me said, 'Well, he was just a jacka--.'
Shocked and confused, I asked who she was talking about. She repeated herself, saying that my husband was a jacka-- for taking his own life - that he was a coward. We have never liked each other but I was so taken aback by her comment that I was speechless and enraged. My husband was one of the most kind people I've ever known. And she is one of the nastiest. I have always seen his suicide as his last attempt at having some control in his life when the end was certain and inevitably prolonged and painful. The only upside to the whole incident is that I never have to see or speak to her again."
"The weirdest thing I have witnessed was to see a comedy movie being played at a funeral. It was a funeral of a colleague's father. Seeing people watching a movie was shocking and I couldn't stop asking my colleague about it. Her reply was, 'We are playing movies so that people don't get bored.'"
"One of my former roommates from college died at age 24. She was driving, and a log truck turned over right on top of her. She had just gotten married a few months earlier, and her husband had to make the decision to pull the plug after she was declared brain dead. We were all devastated.
At the funeral, there were several of us there who only knew her from her college years, and it wasn't long before we started reminiscing about all the party nights and her drunken escapades. Pretty soon there was about 10 of us smiling and laughing as we thought about the fun we had had together with our friend. We all began to feel better because I feel as though we were celebrating her life instead of mourning her passing.
What we didn't realize, however, was that the majority of her friends and family from back home had ZERO idea about what she had been up to in college. We all knew she had come from a very devout religious background, but we didn't realize the extent. After a half hour or so, we finally registered the weird looks we were getting from people, and it occurred to us that maybe some of the family didn't enjoy hearing about how their good little Christian girl got ripped on Cuervo and table danced to 'Shook Me All Night Long' by ACDC. We stifled our laughter and sat down for the service."
"Keith Richards (yes, THAT Keith Richards) showed up at my grandmother's funeral. She passed away in the '90s, and I was raised in a town called Tottenville which is on Staten Island in NYC. There's one funeral parlor that most people use, and coincidentally, Keith's wife Patti Hansen's grandmother had passed away that same week. So, when Keith showed up to show his respects, there were two rooms with the name Hansen, and he happened to walk into ours first.
He walked slowly, scanning faces for someone familiar, and as he noticed that he didn't recognize anyone, he started getting confused. He walked up to my grandmother's casket, looked in with even more confusion on his face, yet still bowed his head and gave respect, even though he realized he was in the wrong room. One of my relatives happened to semi-know him from being a roadie in a band that had toured with them years prior, so he approached Keith, introduced himself and shook his hand.
By this time, everyone in the room had realized what was transpiring, and as he looked over the room, a giggle sounded, then a laugh, then everyone was laughing pretty heavily, including Keith. It was definitely one of the most emotionally confusing moments of my teenage life, but my grandma would have loved it - because people were smiling and happy, rather than sad and depressed. Afterward, we (my relative, myself and Keith) went outside into the parking lot for a smoke... and of course, my Zippo came out even before Keith had reached for his pack. Oh, and no, I won't mention whether we smoked a regular or a funny cigarette - all I'll say is he used my Zippo to light it."
"At my grandmother's post funeral reception, after the food was served, my distant relative came and sat beside me. I was expecting some consoling words. Rather he whispered in my ear, 'Tell your father that the food wasn't good, there was no seasoning in the curry.'"
"At funerals my sister plays piano at her church. She told of one funeral where the guy was a completely horrible person. Beat his wife, locked up his food so he didn't share with his family, fought with the neighbors, prison, etc. For whatever reason, the minister decided to bring all these characteristics to light, commenting on what a horrible person the deceased was, how lucky his family was to not have to deal with him anymore.
People were actually a bit put out. Even though they knew the minister was saying the truth, people weren't expecting to not hear one redeeming feature of this parishioner."
"A poker buddy of mine in high school - he was the cool, good looking older dude who got all the girls - was killed in a car accident. He was a bit of a wild one but he came from a religious Irish Catholic family. A large crowd was present at the final portion of the funeral, at the cemetery where he was to be interred, including at least a dozen weeping, beautiful girls. His exes and crushes I suppose. His father was stoic and taciturn, but his mother was an absolute wreck. As the graveside portion of the Mass was being conducted her howls of grief were heart wrenching. I was starting to lose it.
Then my friend was lowered to the ground, about to be interred for eternity. And then his mother did what grieving Irish Catholic mothers have done for centuries: she shrieked, 'My baby! My little boy!' And leapt into the grave after him, grasping, hugging the casket, sobbing uncontrollably.
I lost it. Not tears streaming down my face but heaving sobs. The same with everyone else - we all just broke at that moment due to that gesture, that primal maternal instinct that we all witnessed together. I've never seen such a collective outpouring of grief (outside of national tragedies of course) and I never, ever want to experience that again."
"My sister's husband's sister passed away. During the visitation the evening before the funeral, the dead woman's husband died of a heart attack. Funeral plans were changed so that the couple could have a joint funeral. I think both people were still in their forties at the time of their deaths."
"Friend's father had a reputation as a great kidder and even a 'goofball' -- and was loved by so many. At the service, his plain, pine coffin had a jar of Sharpies and a note asking everyone to write a message right there on the coffin lid and sides. Many were fantastically clever, warm, and all were genuine and heartfelt. One even included a big bottle of great 12 year old Scotch on top of the coffin with the instruction it be buried with him.
The service was full of laughter, tears, and accompanied by about 50 men from his son's barber hop chorus singing some of his favourite tunes. It truly was a celebration of a well-lived life."
"My ex mother-in-law had died. She was an unpleasant person, to put it mildly - Until the day she died, never stopped tried to break up the marriage and even tried setting up my then-wife with a wealthy a--hole of the mother-in-law's choosing, while we were still married. Just a nasty, hateful, selfish person...
....Who hated bugs. Ants in particular. When she'd see an ant on the sidewalk or driveway, she'd go out of her way to stomp on it. An ant in her house drove her near to madness.
So, when she died, I made sure that I was the last person to see her, the person to close the coffin lid - Because I'd stopped at a five-and-dime store earlier in the day, bought a ten-cent bag of plastic ants. tore the bag open and sprinkled them all over her, there in the coffin with her. Goodnight and farewell, battle-axe."
"A rabbi concluded a memorial service for my father by reminding everyone to vote for Richard Nixon.
My father despised Nixon for political and personal reasons. Earlier that year, Nixon's staff had strong armed a landlord into breaking my father's lease so they could take his store for a campaign headquarters."
"When I lived in the UK my wife and I became quite friendly with the local Curate and his wife.
One summer night they came round to our house for a BBQ. The Curate got rather merry after a couple of bottles of wine and his wife was a little annoyed, he was reminded he had a funeral to officiate the next day at 10:00 am.
He then proclaimed that funerals were the best part of his job and really cheered him up. I asked why? He thought for a moment then said: 'It's when that first hand full of earth clatters down onto the coffin and I realize I am not in it.'
At 10:05 am the next day I saw him running up the road towards the Church, cassock billowing behind him. Hopefully he was full of joy."
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