Wake and funeral protocol
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26-01-2016, 01:40 PM
RE: Wake and funeral protocol
Thanks, everyone. I'll be sure to be respectful and supportive.

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26-01-2016, 06:53 PM
RE: Wake and funeral protocol
(25-01-2016 10:43 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  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?

You are not a Catholic and so need not follow their rituals.

You do, however, have the social obligation not to be rude about it.

I've been to Catholic funerals and didn't do any of the rigamarole.

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Science is not a subject, but a method.
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26-01-2016, 07:08 PM
RE: Wake and funeral protocol
(26-01-2016 06:53 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(25-01-2016 10:43 PM)WillHopp Wrote:  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?

You are not a Catholic and so need not follow their rituals.

You do, however, have the social obligation not to be rude about it.

I've been to Catholic funerals and didn't do any of the rigamarole.

Thanks, bud.

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26-01-2016, 07:39 PM
RE: Wake and funeral protocol
Sorry for your loss.

I have found that in virtually all life functions, there is zero value in challenging peoples' beliefs. If it's a catholic funeral or a Hindu or Islamic wedding or a bar mitzvah or whatever, I attend and share in the joy or sadness of the moment... along with the religious convocations and processes. Ultimately, whatever helps you get through this life is OK by me.

My ONLY objection to religion is in the public/political sphere. When crazed believers feel it's not enough to live their beliefs for themselves, that they must see their beliefs reflected in the rest of society, then I get a bit animated about it.
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27-01-2016, 11:10 AM
RE: Wake and funeral protocol
Sorry about your loss. I have had to bury 2 family members in the last year that were catholic. Last year, my grandmother died and that was the first funeral that I went to as an atheist. I just sat there and let others mourn in their own way. Even at her wake, most of the Catholics in the family did pray over her body or whatnot. I did not. I would just attend to show your support for their family. I stood when they stood and sat when they knelt. I don't think that anyone though that was disrespectful since my wife did the same as I did and she is a christian.

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28-01-2016, 09:01 PM
RE: Wake and funeral protocol
I think you're overthinking this. People are generally not keeping score at a funeral. The point is you show up, your there for her and her family, and you are respectful of their beliefs. I doubt anyone is really going to care if you follow the exact sacraments and steps. The point is to be a steadying presence and to offer emotional support.

You'll be fine.

Sorry for your loss.

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28-01-2016, 11:59 PM
RE: Wake and funeral protocol
Thanks, BnW, the wake was today and you're right, so far I was overthinking it. She was just so happy we were there and we saw the body but just hugged everyone and gave our condolences and then stayed and talked for the whole time. Later I offered to be a pallbearer and then we went back to the house. Tomorrow is the mass.

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29-01-2016, 09:16 AM
RE: Wake and funeral protocol
I was at the funeral of a very close friend last month. I was not the only atheist in the crowd. I had identified the others when a prayer was said before they closed the casket to move it from the viewing room to the chapel. There were at least a half-dozen people that did not bow their heads and were looking at each other and rolling their eyes at each other while the prayer was said.

Instead of Amazing Grace, Elvis' Love Me Tender was played to open the funeral service. The preacher was Baptist and you could tell he knew that this was not his typical crowd. He started sweating and got pretty worked up. He predictably launched into the standard spiel about how we are all sinners and worthless and headed to hell without Jesus and even threw in "if you died today do you know where you would spend eternity?" At the end, he did the classic "every head bowed and every eye closed" thing. Most of the sheep in the pews did as they were told. However, I and several others just kept looking at the guy. He got really flustered and actually said "Have some reverence and bow your heads!" I actually felt angry for how he was using this tragedy to manipulate people while they were emotionally vulnerable. I don't know what the others did because I was staring straight up at him trying to make eye contact to let him know that he could say anything he wanted, but he couldn't force me to bow my head. He wouldn't look me in the eye at all and then just went on with his crap as if we were invisible.

On the drive home, I told my wife that I wanted my funeral to be a party. If a bunch of people are going to gather to remember me or say goodbye or whatever, I don't want it to be torture for them. I want a live band, champagne and hors d'oeuvres, maybe a picture of me somewhere (preferably surrounded by photos of me with all my friends and family). If anything is said, I just want people to recount the memories of me that are important to them. I want my body cremated and the ashes spread around a tree in a forest, or maybe shot into space - that'd be cool. For what you pay for a casket, burial and a service at a funeral home you could throw a damn fine party.

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29-01-2016, 05:28 PM
RE: Wake and funeral protocol
The service was this morning, and it was filled with all of the ritual bullshit of standing, sitting, kneeling, mindlessly repeating phrases, completing prayers, etc. The priest used this event as another chance to recruit, saying if people didn't follow Jesus or have gotten away from following Jesus that it's OK, they can be forgiven and can start anew because as Jesus said I am the life, yada, yada, yada. He was sure to say this three times and it made me sad.

I made sure to sit behind my family so my not standing or kneeling wouldn't be noticed. The priest looked at me and my wife a few times and kinda stared, but I can't really read into that. I just sat quietly and consoled my SIL when I had the opportunity, I told her that her father was a great man and that her eulogy was a beautiful tribute and that he would be proud.

It's all done and I'm just glad I could be there for my family. Moving on.

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29-01-2016, 06:07 PM
RE: Wake and funeral protocol
The most important thing is to be there. Just your presence can often be the biggest comfort.

Ya done good.

I am sorry about the loss.

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