Some of my “most memorable memories” these past five years have been at funerals.
Just as a first meeting with a new client can be unpredictable and often surprising- funerals are often more drama filled than the weddings, pawning parties, Liquidations & baby showers! Why? Because #Cindyism “When you are the trail boss- the road isn’t always easy to travel.”
For some reason, our personalities are remarkably different with me being “too serious” and, Cindy being “too silly!” The truth is- we make a helluva team when I’m dealing with crazy people and she can make me laugh about it.
At a recent funeral I was officiating a memorial at (and standing at the head of the casket in my normal spot), someone started arguing about the deceased wearing jewelry and, being buried in it. While “rushing” the casket (and me) to “grab the goods,” I was effectively knocked over from the weight of the casket bearing into me.
You may be thinking “funerals are funny?” Don’t judge me- I’ve officiated over 500 weddings, funerals, baptisms, birthday parties, and more while “dealing with divas and don’t do that” types of situations my friend.
The truth is when the deceased is wealthy- the stakes are far higher for the survivors already “counting their coins!” Outrageous behavior is considered “normal” by a few of these Inlaws and outlaws but believe me when I tell you that after five years, it’s difficult to shock me.
Since I “work” with my entire family at events, I’ve encountered a few moments of surprise that at the time I knew nothing about until my self professed Redheaded Redneck twin sister whispered in my ear “we’ve got a problem Pal!” Having an unusually good sense of humor, Cindy can “come up with a good one to surmise the situation” in seconds.
Although I’ve encountered a few of those “whoa now cowboy” moments, collecting myself in order to act as if nothing just happened isn’t always as easy as you might think. I’m a perfectionist and strive for perfect execution at every event and although no one else “shares my vision” I’m still crossing my fingers for the right event to go completely as planned.
Sure I’ve had my moments where even I was surprised that everything was going so well and breathed a sigh of relief right before the other shoe fell on my head.
From where I stand looking at the couple and their family along with close friends, I have a pretty good idea of the “flow” and was once shocked at a church when the “banjo playing boyfriend” burst in to seranade the bride.
Another “eye opener” was a drunk outlaw yelling “I need to object” minutes before announcing the couple as man and wife.
For those of you thinking everything goes smoothly, think back at all of the weddings and funerals you’ve been too and ask yourself where you saw the most drama.
At least at a wedding everyone (almost everyone) is there to celebrate a joyous occasion. A funeral is remarkably different when the survivors feel like they have nothing to lose and use grief as a good excuse to “throw their two cents in” or, saying something derogatory to the stepmother. It happens all the time when the families are a #Cindyism “mixed bag of nuts!” Meaning the families were blended by marriage and are now effectively “separated by death.”
When my good friend, Glenda Patterson passed away unexpectedly last year, her daughter Tara thought that continuing to use Glenda’s FB account to check in and tag me was somehow funny- it wasn’t. I advised her that after seeing my friend for the last time the day before, I was horrified to find that Glenda had “checked in with me” at an area restaurant the next morning. Tara became angry and told me “that’s the way I’ve chosen to deal with it and I’m running her social accounts so if you don’t like it, unfriend me.” I did.
Grieving families are unpredictable and their behavior can often mirror “Complicated Grief Syndrome.” I’ve heard of the deceased last meal being kept in a refrigerator, the deceased clothing being worn by a survivor and even cosmetics or cologne.
When my father lost his beloved Lady Gretta several years ago, her sister Kathryn (although she had no plans to pay for the funeral and expenses attributed to it) effectively kept Gretta “on ice” for 30 days as the next of kin and prevented my father from a proper burial while Gretta continued to deteriorate. I suggest that every married couple sign and keep a copy of an “Affidavit of Body Disposition” in order to prevent meddling relatives, or outlaws from impeding your ability to bury a loved one since “blood relatives” can interfere even when they have no plans to make funeral arrangements or, much less pay for them! My father paid for all of the expenses to bury Gretta and suffered for 30 days to do it all because Kathryn never liked my father and abused her sister Gretta by constantly “borrowing money” that age never paid back.
Officiating a funeral requires that I reflect upon the accomplishments and past of the deceased but, often an “outlaw” relative will bounce up and discuss drunken stories or something completely out of the ordinary and unexpected. Taking the reins back to keep control over a ceremony isn’t always an easy task but, it is a necessary part of my role at events. I’m not afraid to address someone who views behaving badly as either “acceptable” or even, normal.
Occasionally, my twin sister has the right idea when getting out of our SUV and advising me of the situation with her iconic #Cindyism “put on your raincoat and boots buddy- we may be riding through some bull$hit!”
While it would be wonderful if everyone grieving could be part of my daily life, it isn’t something I can count on. At a recent wake, two men decided to get into a drunken fistfight regarding their inheritance while other family members cheered them on. I took that as my cue to leave since things were apparently “going to go downhill.”
It’s not unusual for lawsuit threats to be “thrown around” at a funeral either.
My suggestion is to get your affairs in order and try to “control the crazy” that may very well happen when you die to keep the dissolution and confusion of “your family” at a minimum.
No one expects to die and yet- we all do.