Wake and funeral protocol
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25-01-2016, 10:43 PM
Wake and funeral protocol
I received some bad news today, and wouldn't it figure this is my 2,000th post.

My sister-in-law, the one with whom I had all of those religious debates you may remember, lost her father suddenly this morning. The details aren't important.

It occurs to me that this will be the first wake and funeral I will attend with my family since they learned I am an atheist. It will be a Catholic affair and what I remember from those services is the body is in the casket and people walk up to the body and kneel in front of it, view the body and then pray or say goodbye, etc. The funeral will be a Catholic mass in their church.

In the old days, I prayed over the body and followed the rituals at the church. But now, everyone knows I'm an atheist. I can assure you I'm not being childish here. I can suck it up and attend these things to be there for her and her family, but at the same time, if I kneel in front of a dead body they are going to know I'm faking it. And I'm not going to genuflect in a church, or kneel or say any prayers, either.

So, any advice?

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25-01-2016, 10:48 PM
RE: Wake and funeral protocol
I'm so sorry for your loss. Hug

I'm an ex Catholic myself. You can still pay your respects to those who have passed on without prayer. Going up to the casket is a symbolic way to say goodbye for the person who is grieving. Religion doesn't have to have anything to do with it.

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
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25-01-2016, 10:58 PM
RE: Wake and funeral protocol
Thanks. I'm an ex-Catholic, too. I just think saying goodbye to a body is odd now. I'm not praying, I don't believe he is somewhere else on some other plane and can hear my thoughts. And my family knows I don't believe in anything supernatural, so what will they think I'm doing up there? I don't want the actions to come off as disingenuous.

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25-01-2016, 11:02 PM
RE: Wake and funeral protocol
(25-01-2016 10:58 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  Thanks. I'm an ex-Catholic, too. I just think saying goodbye to a body is odd now. I'm not praying, I don't believe he is somewhere else on some other plane and can hear my thoughts. And my family knows I don't believe in anything supernatural, so what will they think I'm doing up there? I don't want the actions to come off as disingenuous.

View it as a symbolic gesture and not that he's in another level of existence. If anyone says anything (which I doubt they will) I would just say that you said goodbye to him in your own way and are here to support your SIL.

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
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25-01-2016, 11:05 PM
RE: Wake and funeral protocol
Thanks Jen.

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25-01-2016, 11:12 PM
RE: Wake and funeral protocol
If you want to walk to the viewing then do so. Pay your respects without the kneeing, praying, just a thoughtful good-bye. If you do not want to do the viewing then don't. Pay your respects to your SIL and let it go.

I do not do funerals anymore and I've never been to one in a church so I don't know much about those. At a funeral home those who do not want to view just stay seated or remain at the back of the room.

Sorry for your family's loss.

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25-01-2016, 11:15 PM
RE: Wake and funeral protocol
(25-01-2016 11:12 PM)Heatheness Wrote:  If you want to walk to the viewing then do so. Pay your respects without the kneeing, praying, just a thoughtful good-bye. If you do not want to do the viewing then don't. Pay your respects to your SIL and let it go.

I do not do funerals anymore and I've never been to one in a church so I don't know much about those. At a funeral home those who do not want to view just stay seated or remain at the back of the room.

Sorry for your family's loss.

Thanks, and I hope this is all for nothing and I do have the option to just pay my condolences, etc. I just like to be prepared.

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25-01-2016, 11:16 PM
RE: Wake and funeral protocol
Personally for me I feel the point of a funeral is coming to accept death.

When it's a person close to me, I go to cry, to share memories, and to feel the pain of loss with other.
When it's somebody else I go to comfort them.

So I'd focus on those things, and less on religion. Although it was funny at my friends funeral when the preacher fell down the steps during his sermon. (my friend was an atheist)

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26-01-2016, 11:23 AM (This post was last modified: 26-01-2016 11:27 AM by Thumpalumpacus.)
RE: Wake and funeral protocol
My sympathies on your family's loss, and condolences to you, Will.

(25-01-2016 10:58 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  Thanks. I'm an ex-Catholic, too. I just think saying goodbye to a body is odd now. I'm not praying, I don't believe he is somewhere else on some other plane and can hear my thoughts. And my family knows I don't believe in anything supernatural, so what will they think I'm doing up there? I don't want the actions to come off as disingenuous.

Don't worry so much about what they think you're doing. Be respectful of the deceased, be dignified in your comportment, and be true to yourself.

Having been to a Catholic wake for an in-law myself, I went up to Grampa's casket, closed my eyes, and cherished the memories of the man I loved. It worked for me.
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26-01-2016, 01:37 PM
RE: Wake and funeral protocol
(25-01-2016 10:58 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  Thanks. I'm an ex-Catholic, too. I just think saying goodbye to a body is odd now. I'm not praying, I don't believe he is somewhere else on some other plane and can hear my thoughts. And my family knows I don't believe in anything supernatural, so what will they think I'm doing up there? I don't want the actions to come off as disingenuous.

It doesn't matter, it's just showing respect to your sister in law. You don't technically have to kneel. Just do a walk by -- if even that. Just give your sister in law a hug with an offer to help if she needs it. Follow through after.


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And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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