90 percent of the people i know that would show up at my funeral i wouldn’t want there in the first place
So I’ve decided that if and when I die I’m just gonna go with being john doe 667854 of the week (this is LA county ca after all) and just cremate me and dump me in the pit along with the rest and, not tell anyone im gone until after it happens … no funeral or the other hypocritical bs that goes along with it …
Without belittling my wife’s new found concern, I can’t quite grasp the notion that a person’s funeral attendance is some kind of popularity contest. I mean, when does it end? What’s next, ghost cliques?
Were I to be living where I grew up, and where I still have extended family, I would expect a reasonable number of people to show up. Every time I travel back there to attend a wedding or funeral, I get to see the same crowd.
However, I don’t live where I grew up. Were I to be buried where I live I wouldn’t expect more than maybe 6? people to attend (depending on who is still alive at the time). I wouldn’t expect the extended family to travel for the event. And as I’ve stated in other threads, I suffer from the older male syndrome of no friends, and I travel for work so no work buddies. Yipee!
I went to the funeral of a 90-something-year old former co-worker, just to pay respects to his wife. When I knew, him was just a nice old guy cruising his way toward a well-deserved retirement. The church was packed, and it was a really big church. I ran into a co-worker who knew the old man better than I, and he said he couldn’t believe that many people would show up at his funeral.
What I’m wondering is how you decide how many people to plan for. It would be bad if you had a funeral in too small a room to fit everyone who comes. But planning for too many people seems presumptuous.
Sister, Brother, Ex-wife the 1st, 4 Sons probably Daughters-in-law, probably Grandkids, maaaaaybe a 1st Cousin or 3, 2 2nd Cousins for certain, with or without spouses I can’t say. 7 neices and nephews and probably a couple of Grandnephews. Beyond that, I haven’t a clue. So somewhere between 16 and possibly as high as 25 I can say for sure. The core of the very large extended family has died off, so all the various branches have been growing apart over the last few decades. Had this been asked 30 years ago I wouldn’t have hesitated to say well over 100 people. These days that is not certain at all.
Well, I’ll be dead, so I don’t expect I’ll care. My kids might care how many people show up.
But guessing, if I were to die tomorrow, I’d expect a pretty big crowd. I’m active in a couple of communities, and would expect a lot of friends and acquaintances to show up. Some to process their grief at my passing, some to comfort others, or because it feels like the thing to do, and some who felt anxious about their own mortality because of my premature death.
On the other hand, if I imitate my grandmother and due in my nineties I would expect a very small turnout. Probably whoever is responsible for disposing of my body and my worldly possessions, and their immediate family. If I make it that long, I’ll probably outlive my spouse and sibs, so, hmm, I have two kids, who may never have kids, so many just 2-5 people?
But going back to the popularity thing… I did find the number of people mourning my father to be somewhat comforting. I thought he was awesome, and all those people there validated my feelings of his awesomeness. And i was grateful for the friends who showed up to pay their respects, and to comfort me. I wasn’t troubled by the small turnout for my grandmother because she’d outlived most of the people who cared about her. By more than two decades, in many cases. And she’s been dying for a few years. We, the immediate family, had already done a lot of our mourning, and didn’t really need a ton of social support. And we all knew that she had been ready to die for a while. It wasn’t a tragic death, it was a timely death.
Anyway, I have taken enough comfort from the presence of others at funerals for my loved ones that I will continue to go to funerals. Also, I enjoy learning about different aspects of people I may have only known in one context. So i guess you can put me in the “pro funeral” column.
I often joke that mine could be held in a phone booth!
Funerals are for the living, not the dead - so it matters more whether any family that outlives me - and/or friends - would wish some sort of a memorial. At times I’ve mused that I would like a party to be held. I play music with a few groups. It might be nice to cater a nice meal with an open bar where people hang out, laugh, and make music. Plus, I wouldn’t be there to have to make any of the arrangements or clean up after!
Just yesterday I was musing on how there are some funerals where people attend because hey, it’s a chance to catch up with all the relatives; some which are attended because the deceased is someone you’re really going to miss; and yet some which would be even more popular if the attendees were allowed to verify that the casket is buried properly, face-down, with a raffle for the right to pee on the grave.
I’ve been to a couple of funerals recently that were largely planned by the deceased. One was a concert followed by a lobster dinner. (Okay, that was a memorial service, held a month or more later.) Another was just a church funeral, but several of the people who spoke said, “Jerry requested this”, or “Jerry said it was okay to tell you that.” If you have the time and energy to do that, it’s quite nice for the people who attend.
People attend funerals for a variety of reasons, but usually it’s as a social function. The notion of obligation fits in here somewhere. When, say, a cousin dies one is expected to attend the service to support one’s (extended) family during their time of grief, regardless how close or distant the personal associations may have been. Similar thing with people connected with work or other semi-public pursuits (charity organizations, church members, fraternal organizations, etc.). The notion of a ‘popularity contest’ in this context would probably miss the mark, although I could see how some politicians might possibly use a highly public funeral as an occasion to win a political popularity contest. But when it comes to how many people who attend that cared deeply for that person where the funeral serves as an opportunity to process one’s grief, it could be argued that that number in attendance serves as a reflection of how well regarded that individual was in life based on their conduct. Humans care deeply about what others think of them; we’re hard-wired to be that way.