Saying Goodbye to a Friend
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
21-01-2012, 01:09 AM
Saying Goodbye to a Friend
Disclaimers: 1. I don't know for sure if this is where this thread belongs. 2. I'm kind of drunk. 3. This could quickly turn into a little tl;dr.

I think I feel like sharing this here because I can do so without offending anyone personally connected to this person.

A friend and co-worker died last week. We'll call him Joseph. He had cancer a few years ago, and in the last couple of months he had been feeling ill and rundown. At some point his cancer returned, more aggressively, and got topped off with complications from pneumonia, and there really wasn't anything anyone could do. He was put on a ventilator, then started on a morphine drip. It seemed sudden - he missed a few half days of work, then he was checked into the hospital, and then, "hey, Joseph won't be back to work. The doctors don't expect him to make it through the week."

This person was a friend. Not the closest of friends, but a friend. He was mostly Agnostic (maybe some sort of Deist) and he helped me through a rough time in my life by being one of the very few real life people that I could voice my doubts and disapproval of religion and faith to. I never quite told him that I had completely deconverted and become an atheist, but I think he knew. I think I even made him think a little harder about his own positions from time to time.

I've had two big problems during the past couple of weeks. The first occurred late last week when my boss gathered us together for a prayer. Now, I've known my boss was a believer, but this was a first. Imagine my discomfort of being called into a "meeting" and finding out that it was to have a prayer for our department. Granted, his heart was in the right place. The prayer was to ask for comfort in our time of grief, and help in getting through the situation. However, I personally feel it was completely inappropriate - mostly because I was asked to gather with other members of the department without knowing the reason, then to find out it was a prayer meeting. Now, having said all that, I don't plan on taking any sort of action. While I feel it was inappropriate (and maybe even illegal), this was the very first time this has ever happened, and unless a similar tragic situation occurs, I don't think it will happen again. Maybe I should make an issue of it, but I don't see too much good coming from it unless it continues.

The second problem was at the funeral. Now, I went to see my friend in the hospital before he passed. I cried that night, in front of him (which I tried not to do), and after I left his hospital room. I cried again later that night after I got home. He died a day and a half later. Some people don't cry, I guess - I do. I find it very therapeutic and quite natural. I expected to cry some more at his funeral. In all honesty, I still feel I need to. I came close, but to his credit, his memorial service was very crowded and I never quite let go in front of all those people. Then, during the service, seated next to some other co-workers, I kind of expected to let go, at least a little.

The service was conducted by a Methodist minister who knew my friend, at least vaguely, and knew his mother well. From what I know, this minister had conducted at least one, maybe more, in-depth discussions with my friend regarding his beliefs and therefore would at least have a decent idea of what they were. In my experience, Methodists are fairly liberal in their theology, at least compared to the Southern Baptists that are in the majority around here. Therefore, while I expected some "spirituality" and some "God" talk, I did not expect the evangelical and proselytizing slant that the service took. God the Father this, God the Son that, we are all drawn closer to God in our suffering, let us look to God for comfort, let us look to the Holy Scriptures for guidance, blah blah blah holy fucking shit.To the best of my knowledge, this did not reflect his beliefs at all. To top it off, on a superficial level, those of you who are Seinfeld fans should imagine the Rabbi from Elaine's building (I forget his name) delivering an evangelical sermon/funeral service, perhaps with a little less accent and emphasis - but that's what I kept thinking of because this guy sounded similar.

Basically I was appalled by what I heard, and was unable to grieve at my friend's funeral because of the tone of the service. I just couldn't get past it. To be fair, it wasn't a total loss. There were several stories they shared about him that were accurate, and when it came to discussing my friend it was pretty accurate. But I guess I was mostly distracted by the minister taking such an opportunity to preach. Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised.

Having said that, I'm really not looking for pity. There are people, friends and family, who were closer to him than I was, and who are likely grieving and in far worse pain that I am. For all I know he changed some of his beliefs in the last year and the service that was performed is exactly what he wanted. But I just wanted to state somewhere that I personally did not approve of the service, and I will be taking steps to make sure that when I go, the proceedings will occur in line with my beliefs and wishes.

I miss my friend. He was an ornery old cuss and a sweet loving person all at the same time. He never made me feel weird or ashamed for thinking for myself and speaking my mind. And I am going to raise a glass in his honor right now, and maybe finally shed some of those final tears that kept getting pushed back.

Also, fuck you cancer.

Our brains deceive us on a regular basis, so we have to find ways to fight back.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 5 users Like TheSixthGlass's post
21-01-2012, 11:41 AM
RE: Saying Goodbye to a Friend
Death happens. It is inevitable. Celebrate his life instead of mourning his death. Organize a party or something. Also. Do not let the whole religion thing get to you. All the minister's idiocy proves is that he did not listen to your friend therefore he is a moron.

NEW AND IMPROVED!
Twice the anger, Half the space!
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like Hamata k's post
21-01-2012, 12:38 PM
RE: Saying Goodbye to a Friend
Hi TheSixthGlass,
I'm so sorry you've lost your friend. He sounds like he listened when you struggled. I can only imagine when you were there to say farewell, he was relieved and comforted by your friendship.

That workplace thing was inappropriate! If you think about it to distraction and still feel strongly, you might take it up with HR -otherwise, like HK said; don't let it get to you. The funeral service may have been a bit of the family's doing, but they can pretty much be hijacked by the church, at such a vulnerable time. Again, HK is correct; the minister is a moron.

The best thing you can do is remember your friend the truthful way you remember him - and I'll bet there are others who would like to do the same. Have a little informal get together- a word of mouth thing... maybe even at one of your friend's favorite haunts or special place you shared. Celebrate your friend's openness, his honesty, and what he meant to you, and others will see that side of your friend more clearly. Truth, even among a very few, is the good human experience.

Heart Be well, and don't stress - it's unhealthy and accomplishes nothing.

Take care and also, I agree...
FUCK CANCER! Angry

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
21-01-2012, 01:33 PM
RE: Saying Goodbye to a Friend
Its clear that that minister has absolutely no fucking sense of empathy and communication on a humane level but to be honest, I think your boss is just a first class klutz who managed (pun intended) to fuck up his good intentions.

It’s your grief...
YOU are allowed to fill it in as you feel appropriate.

Observer

Agnostic atheist
Secular humanist
Emotional rationalist
Disclaimer: Don’t mix the personal opinion above with the absolute and objective truth. Remember to think for yourself. Thank you.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Observer's post
21-01-2012, 10:49 PM
RE: Saying Goodbye to a Friend
Nothing can be said in the face of loss; why anything is said at all reflects the goodness of human nature. You are not alone in anger that there are those who need to reflect this goodness from a divine source.

I'm sorry for your loss.

[Image: klingon_zps7e68578a.jpg]
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
22-01-2012, 12:56 AM
RE: Saying Goodbye to a Friend
As always, good advice from everyone.
There's really not much more to add - cry when you need to and celebrate his life when you can.
Cancer is a motherfucker - it has taken both of my parents and many of my relatives. A very insidious disease.
Sorry for your loss.

Humankind Dodgy (a total misnomer)
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
22-01-2012, 05:09 AM
RE: Saying Goodbye to a Friend
Sixth,

I'm sorry for your loss. I don't see this the way the other posters do, so I hope you'll take this as trying to help you, even if it's in your face.

My experience is that people say and do a lot of stupid things after the death of someone they knew, because they have a lot of strong feelings and don't know what to do with them. Consider how that statement may apply to you as well. You describe two gatherings to celebrate the memory of your friend, however you weren't really present in either one because you were judging them to be inappropriate. That is your right to do, but it sounds like it's kept you from getting the benefit of dealing better with your grief.

Try to think of after-death ceremonies as an opportunity to give a voice to your grief, to express how you are feeling. Don't worry about what everyone else does.

Yes, your boss sounds somewhat clueless, but isn't the real point here that he did something to remember your friend, even it it wasn't perfect by your standards? Would it have been better if he'd done nothing? I think it was a nice gesture to gather everyone and express a desire to get through the grief. This doesn't have to offend you. When people pray around me, their incantations to fictitous beings don't bother me at all. Also, did you speak about your friend at the prayer? You could have said whatever you felt needed to be expressed - something like "I got to know Joseph pretty well over last year. I visited him in the hospital and it was very sad. We talked a lot about life. I'm pretty sure he was agnostic about religion, but I know he would have appreciated the idea of all of us gathering to remember him." Don't fault your boss for dealing with his grief in the only way he knows.

Likewise, you went to a church and you were surprised to hear "God the Father this, God the Son that, we are all drawn closer to God in our suffering, let us look to God for comfort, let us look to the Holy Scriptures for guidance"? Seriously? The minister's job isn't to reflect your friend's position - it's to help the funeral attendees deal with their grief, and he's going to do that in the only way he knows - with a lot of incantations and magical spells. So what? Isn't it nice that everyone gathered to remember your friend. Did you speak at the funeral? In my experience the people organizing the funeral are always open to someone who wants to say a few words. If it upset you that something wasn't said, go ahead and say it to take care of your own grief.

As to this:

"But I just wanted to state somewhere that I personally did not approve of the service, and I will be taking steps to make sure that when I go, the proceedings will occur in line with my beliefs and wishes."

At the next service, are you going to drop metaphorical turds in the punchbowl? Is that going to help anyone, most importantly, you? If you want a service in line with your beliefs and wishes, organize it yourself. You can still do that for your friend, even if some time has passed.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 2 users Like Jeff's post
22-01-2012, 06:03 AM
RE: Saying Goodbye to a Friend
(21-01-2012 01:09 AM)TheSixthGlass Wrote:  Also, fuck you cancer.

I'll second that.

I can't add much to what has already been said. But I agree that when I cross the bar, I wouldn't want some priest I didn't know at the goodbye party.

Take care of yourself.

"But the point is, find somebody to love. Everything else is overrated." - HouseofCantor
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
23-01-2012, 10:23 AM (This post was last modified: 23-01-2012 10:24 AM by TheSixthGlass.)
RE: Saying Goodbye to a Friend
(22-01-2012 05:09 AM)Jeff Wrote:  Sixth,

I'm sorry for your loss. I don't see this the way the other posters do, so I hope you'll take this as trying to help you, even if it's in your face.

Thank you. And really, since I made the post, it's open for commentary.

(22-01-2012 05:09 AM)Jeff Wrote:  My experience is that people say and do a lot of stupid things after the death of someone they knew, because they have a lot of strong feelings and don't know what to do with them. Consider how that statement may apply to you as well. You describe two gatherings to celebrate the memory of your friend, however you weren't really present in either one because you were judging them to be inappropriate. That is your right to do, but it sounds like it's kept you from getting the benefit of dealing better with your grief.

Try to think of after-death ceremonies as an opportunity to give a voice to your grief, to express how you are feeling. Don't worry about what everyone else does.

Sure, and I'm not trying to worry about what everyone else does. I am fully aware that we all deal with grief in different ways, and I am fully aware that we should all be allowed to grieve in those different ways, on our own terms. But as I explained, the first gathering was not to celebrate the memory of my friend.

(22-01-2012 05:09 AM)Jeff Wrote:  Yes, your boss sounds somewhat clueless, but isn't the real point here that he did something to remember your friend, even it it wasn't perfect by your standards? Would it have been better if he'd done nothing? I think it was a nice gesture to gather everyone and express a desire to get through the grief. This doesn't have to offend you. When people pray around me, their incantations to fictitous beings don't bother me at all. Also, did you speak about your friend at the prayer? You could have said whatever you felt needed to be expressed - something like "I got to know Joseph pretty well over last year. I visited him in the hospital and it was very sad. We talked a lot about life. I'm pretty sure he was agnostic about religion, but I know he would have appreciated the idea of all of us gathering to remember him." Don't fault your boss for dealing with his grief in the only way he knows.

The reason it was inappropriate is because it was at work, during work hours, and I was called in to a "meeting" by my superior. This wasn't an option, and it wasn't discussed beforehand what this "meeting" would be about - which turned out to be a prayer to Yahweh and Jesus. We are all more than welcome to pray if we wish, on our own, or to invite others to pray or meditate with us. I just felt extremely awkward being called into a prayer meeting. In all honesty, had I been invited, there's a chance I would have gone voluntarily anyway. I'm not faulting him for dealing with his grief - that's not what the prayer was about. This was not a meeting to share things about my deceased friend, it was a protection spell - and in the workplace, on company time, in regard to discrimination laws, it was inappropriate - and in all likelihood technically illegal. I felt very uncomfortable and felt coerced into the situation. However, having said all that - I get it. Which is why I also stated in the original post that his heart was in the right place. I understand what he did and why he thought it was ok. And it was 2 minutes of my time, and it will likely never happen again.

(22-01-2012 05:09 AM)Jeff Wrote:  Likewise, you went to a church and you were surprised to hear "God the Father this, God the Son that, we are all drawn closer to God in our suffering, let us look to God for comfort, let us look to the Holy Scriptures for guidance"? Seriously? The minister's job isn't to reflect your friend's position - it's to help the funeral attendees deal with their grief, and he's going to do that in the only way he knows - with a lot of incantations and magical spells. So what? Isn't it nice that everyone gathered to remember your friend. Did you speak at the funeral? In my experience the people organizing the funeral are always open to someone who wants to say a few words. If it upset you that something wasn't said, go ahead and say it to take care of your own grief.

Actually, it wasn't in a church, it was a funeral home. And I do believe they can pretty reasonably conduct any type of service that they like. There was no opportunity for others to speak, it was all the minister. And my point is that in my experience with ministers of this denominational persuasion, they go pretty easy on the proselytizing, even in their sermons. But I felt it was pretty heavy at the memorial service, and it surprised me.

(22-01-2012 05:09 AM)Jeff Wrote:  At the next service, are you going to drop metaphorical turds in the punchbowl? Is that going to help anyone, most importantly, you?

I'm not really sure I understand this question. And no, it won't help me, I'll be dead. But I would like a service (if there's even going to be one) that accurately reflects how I viewed reality, and how I would like to be remembered. If that means some people think I'm burning in hell, then so be it - maybe they'll take a moment to rethink their belief system. Mostly I just want fireworks, rock music, and an open bar.

(22-01-2012 05:09 AM)Jeff Wrote:  If you want a service in line with your beliefs and wishes, organize it yourself.
That's pretty much what I said I was going to do.

(22-01-2012 05:09 AM)Jeff Wrote:  You can still do that for your friend, even if some time has passed.

Yep, which is why I was drinking and thinking and remembering the other night. And I don't particularly feel like anything wasn't said that needed to be, I was just stating that the entire experience had far more religious overtones than I expected, and while I felt the need to speak up, I did not feel that ultimately it would do his family or other friends any good to start pointing out that "he didn't believe this" or "didn't believe that." And to top it all off, since this was almost entirely a work-related function and I was surrounded by co-workers, I did not feel the need to stand out as one of the only non-believers in the building.

Which again, is why I made this statement in the opening of my post:
TheSixthGlass Wrote:I think I feel like sharing this here because I can do so without offending anyone personally connected to this person.

I don't want to be the guy that says "hey, I don't believe your friend/son/uncle is in heaven. He's just dead" at a funeral. Nor do I want to be the guy that says "hey, you're praying to an imaginary being, it's not going to actually help anything or affect reality, this is silly" while it is giving others emotional comfort in a time of grief. I don't want to be that guy, because that guy's an asshole.

I guess the real point of my entire post was that I don't have a lot of sympathetic ears to this type of stuff in the real world. I'm surrounded by believers at home and at work, and my opinions on life and death and the (imagined) afterlife would be found offensive and rude in a time like this, so I keep them to myself for the most part. And again, as I stated originally, for all I know, that funeral service was exactly what my friend wanted. It was nice that everyone gathered to remember him. And we have had a few other secular-type gatherings in his honor outside of these two instances. But basically the only people that I can commiserate with are people from work, because those are the people in my life that also knew my friend. So I posted my discomfort here, and shared stories and fond memories with others when it's been appropriate.
Also, thank you everyone for your words and input.

Our brains deceive us on a regular basis, so we have to find ways to fight back.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
23-01-2012, 11:12 PM
RE: Saying Goodbye to a Friend
Like many of the others, I'm sorry about the loss of your friend and coworker. It's a rough spot in life that we all must endure at one time or another, therefore it's part of being human.

In my experience, I've learned that people must be allowed to grieve in their own way regardless of their beliefs. It's all about respect. If they don't mind me standing in the back of the room, not holding hands in a prayer circle or wiping my face after a Muslim prayer, then there's no harm done. I'm not offended because I've accepted that this is how many deal with a crisis in their lives. I have my own way as well.

I take pride in knowing that I can let others deal with loss in their own way - whatever helps them sleep at night.
There's a lot of positive things in this world... But the fact remains that cancer bites the big one...

"I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders...
Thanks for getting off my back!"
-
Arcticspear Idea
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: