Do you remember the first funeral you went to?

Earlier my wife and I got back home from her mother’s funeral.

I thought back to the first funeral I ever went to. It was for my grandfather on my mother’s side. I had never attended a funeral before, was pretty young, and didn’t know about things like embalming, and the whole thing felt so unreal I kept wondering if, at any minute, he would open his eyes and get out of the coffin. Everybody would be happy then. Of course, this never happened.

Anyway, do you remember the very first funeral that you ever attended?

Yep, my grandfather. 1986.

It was sad. I was 7 years old and I thought the sound of the cars driving outside sounded like my grandfather breathing.

Yeah, I do. It was the funeral of a very close friend’s grandmother. She’d lived in Central Texas, but spent a lot of time in Houston with my buddy’s family (her daughter was my buddy’s mom), and since he literally lived across the street, she was essentially my third grandmother in many ways.

I was 14 or 15, so I knew the score as far as everything went, but I didn’t expect the embalmed body to look so strange and unnatural, and the hymns and other music were just horrid- they just depressed the shit out of me. Although I was sad that she’d died and that I’d miss her, she was very old, frail and unwell before she passed away, so it wasn’t a shock. The music though just sucked the life out of me; I was doing ok until I had to sit there and hear those old-timey hymns, and that just made me profoundly sad. Which if you knew me at 14, was really abnormal, because I was aggressively happy in a general sense.

I also remember the first funeral that I knew about (my great-grandmother), even though I didn’t go because I was about 5 or so.

My great grandfather. I was 4 or 5. We little children stayed in the pew and did not file past the coffin at the end of the service.

Yep - my Grandma. I was 8.
Before that day I had never earnestly prayed for anything, but I prayed every day for years for God to take care of Grandma.

I was 19 before I attended my first funeral. It was for my then-boyfriend’s grandma, who I only met once or twice, and I still cried. I just felt so sad for everyone else.

My parents never took me to any funerals when I was a child. I didn’t attend my first funeral until I was 24, when my father passed away.

I don’t remember my first nearly as well as my second, for my son, who passed away in 2005, when he was 10 weeks old.

Oh Soliloquy. There are no words for that. For a breath it felt as though my heart had stopped.

My first funeral was at 18 for a school friend who’d been killed in a car accident. It was the most emotionally wrenching experience of my life at that point. My most vivid memory is of his devestated mother trying to throw herself on the coffin after it had been lowered into the grave, screaming, “MY SON! MY SON!” All these years later I still think of him, and what an awful, awful day that was.

I don’t, but I had what seems to be a pretty unusual experience with funerals as a kid. I grew up in a large (1,000+ attending on Sunday mornings) church with a very close-knit community where everyone knew everyone else and had for generations (think conservative Mennonite, but not quite). There was reliably at least one death every month in the congregation, and we went to every funeral. I was to at least 50 funerals and accompanying viewings before I was five years old. It was typical for every church family to attend the viewing, although not necessarily the funeral itself. However, my dad was the main songleader for our church and he and my mom sang at all the funerals. They were part of the fabric of my life.

I don’t attend that church as an adult, though my mom still does. But I’ve moved back into the area and have many relatives and friends here. I probably still attend a viewing every six weeks on average, when it is a close relative of a friend or relative (i.e., my cousin’s aunt on the other side, or my friend’s grandfather). Funerals – maybe two or three a year. I don’t usually do the funeral unless it’s an aunt or uncle (seven so far, and about 17 more to go, counting their spouses) or another relative of that degree.

My first really significant funeral was my grandmother’s, when I was 11. I don’t remember much except being upset because my parents were. The second significant one was my father’s, when I was 18. I remember it much more clearly.

Probably my (maternal) grandfather. I was 12. Most memorable part: my wheelchair fell of the back of the station wagon, in the procession.

I was seven, going on eight, and the funeral was that of my great-grandmother, my mother’s mother’s mother. I’d met her on visits in a care home but didn’t know her well.

Up until then I didn’t know that grownups cry. I saw my grandmother crying a little and I was surprised, I thought crying was something kids do.

Then, the next year, in November of 1963 our school principal came around with a look I could then recognize, as he announced to each class the death of President Kennedy.

My first was in my early 30’s. My family never had funerals. We lost several family members but never once did anything at all to mark the events.

I remember. My Granddaddy died when I was 11, he was my Father’s Dad. My poor Grandmother…I recall her clutching his face during the wake crying “Daddy! Daddy!” and she had to be pulled away from him.

I touched his hand and it was stiff and ice cold. Death sucks.

My Dad ended up having to teach my Grandmother how to balance a checkbook, pay her bills, manage her affairs, etc…everything my Grandad always took care of. She didn’t even drive a car until after he died.

Believe it or not, I’m 41 years old and didn’t attend my first funeral until just under two years ago. It was for a friend’s daughter, who died at 9 months old of Type I SMA. It was probably one of the worst experiences of my life. FAR worse than the death of my own grandmother six months later.

My grandfather died when I was 8 and I was not allowed to attend. So my first funeral was my fathers when I was 18. I don’t remember it though. I totally blacked it out right after attending.
People were asking me questions, like what I thought of the hymn that was played or the words said by a cousin and I had absolutely no memory of anything. Weird. I do recall arriving at the church and then being back home. That’s it.

I attended my first funeral when I was 8. It was my dad; he died very young (44) of a heart attack. It was very surreal. No hysterics or anything, but it seemed like we were in some sort of nightmare, and I felt sure that I would wake up the next morning and everything would be set back to right again.

It probably took around a month for me to really process.

My maternal grandfather died in December 1973, when I was 6 years old. I remember exactly 3 things about that period:

(1) When he was in the hospital. No specific memories of visiting, just generic “hospital” images. We bought a little “Santa’s boot” ornament at the gift shop. From then on it was “Grandpa’s boot” and I still hang it on the tree every year.

(2) Grandma crying on my father’s shoulder. This must have been shortly after he died. I don’t remember how word came, or whether any family were with him.

(3) The day of the funeral, driving out to the very rural cemetery. It had just snowed, and the trees were all tall and frosty and beautiful. I don’t remember anything about the service or burial.

I don’t remember much else about my grandfather, for that matter. He was overweight and balding, and he liked his whisky and chaw, and he was kind of gruff. I liked to jump on top of him as he lay on the couch, and I remember getting in a little trouble for doing it once when he was asleep. :stuck_out_tongue:

He was only 65 when he died, but I remember thinking that that was impossibly old. My mother, his second-youngest daughter, is now 66.

I was around 10 when my Aunt died, she was in her early 30’s. Died from complications related to pneumonia she had a really rough life. I later on suspected she died of aids but it’s one of those things no one talks about in the family. The funeral home smelt like mince pie for some reason. Every time I smell mince pie I think of that funeral.

The first funeral that I attended was when I was 4. My mom’s favorite aunt died, but she couldn’t find a babysitter, so she took me with her. I remember viewing the body, but I don’t remember much else. According to my mom, I made everyone at the funeral luncheon laugh when someone asked who wanted dessert and my hand shot straight up into the air.

When I was 12 my friend Rosie McCormick fell off a hay wagon, landed on her head and died a few hours later. At the viewing her dad (who all us kids thought was a leprechaun) met me and my mom at the funeral home door and took me around showing me all the flower arrangements before taking me up to see her. He said lots of things to prepare me as we approached her so I wouldn’t be scared; he was a very kind man in the face of losing his daughter to a stupid accident. Worst of all the hay truck was being driven by the McCormick’s friend and neighbor from the end of the block who took a corner just a little too fast for the unsecured hay bales to hold fast under the children. It was in 1982 and I think I still have the program in my Memory Box.