So you heard that Denise, your neighbour has transitioned to that land beyond the sky and is either off playing the harp or drinking milk and honey under a big, shady lignum vitae tree.
With both your heart and eyes full, you show up at the church ready to say your fondest farewell…only to have your vision assaulted by the reality of ghetto fabulous dressing, some so daring for the house of the Lord, that you wonder how Jesus on the cross did not free himself in an attempt to cover his eyes in shame!
You see men with beltless pants, women in see-through tops, baseball caps and more exposed breast, leg and thighs than a bucket of KFC. Funerals today are oftentimes tragic runways, as it seems anything goes.
While freedom of expression is desired, what happens when this clashes with propriety or is that a thing of the past? There is such a thing as funeral protocol and what one should and should not do out of respect for the dearly departed.
So, let’s do a quick recap of the traditional dos and don’ts:
- Do not put in your last thousand dollar bill in the offering plate and then following behind the usher demanding your $500 change. Next time just give what you have.
- If the outfit you choose to wear cannot be worn to take a passport picture or in a court of law, chances are it is too revealing for a funeral.
- Boredom with the homily being shared by the minister is no excuse to play Candy Crush loudly on your phone during service. Like seriously?
- Do not be presumptuous and flop yourself down in the front row. Common sense should dictate that the seats at the front are for immediate family only.
- If the deceased owed you money, suck it up. Do not start lamenting to his or her mother how you never got your partner draw. Tacky much?
- Under no circumstance do you arrive late and demand that the pastor re-opens the casket. If you already forgot what the person looked like, look at the cover of the programme.
- Selfie taking in the church is bad enough but when you ask for a selfie with the body, you are pushing it. Pray that the duppy doesn’t slap you for disturbing their peace.
- Your cell phone should be off or on vibrate in the place of reverence so at no time should Dexta Daps or Alkaline ring tone disturb the scripture reading.
- When the gathering makes their way to the home of the deceased, do not start asking for clothes, shoes and other personal effects of the dead. That is beyond insensitive.
- Death resulting from an illness can be devastating so do not be fake and tell the family “Oh I know how you feel”…no you don’t! You ever had cancer?
- Avoid telling their family members meaningless platitudes like ‘he/she is in a better place’, ‘in time you’ll get over it” or ‘the Lord knows best”. Nobody wants to hear any of that.
- If the death was particularly tragic or suspicious do not turn up fishing for salacious gossip like a news reporter. Have some consideration for the bereaved.
- Finally, if you and the deceased were not friends, avoid the fake tears. The hypocrisy of even showing up is enough, do not throw salt in the wound with the ‘cow-bawling’.
Death is a non-discriminatory visitor to every household at some point in our all lives.
Instead of causing added stress to the family of the deceased, be supportive in this difficult time as they try to work their way through their grief.