For any funeral, there are always a few concerned elderly people who turn up to offer genuine words of comfort to the grieved. For them death is the eternal fact of life, unconquered by mankind. They put in their years of experience,follow all rituals of fasting in the presence of the body, shoulder the deceased on its last journey and take charge of necessary arrangements. Sometimes help comes from unexpected sources, those who may not even be close to the family but land up at their doorstep to bring in food &tea, and reassurance. Some kind hearted folks stand by as they recollect the past association with the deceased. Someone stood by as they had not known their father, and this kind soul provided emotional stability. Some friends of an elderly gentleman who passed away tearfully regretted that they could not be with their buddy on his last journey, as they received the news of his passing much later. These are heart-warming moments which reinforce our belief in humanity.
A funeral can be used as a platform to settle past scores. Some relatives decide to show up only for the sake of visibility among other relatives, devoid of any emotion for the departed soul or the aggrieved family. One close relative, who had been incommunicado with the grieving family for years,surprised everybody by just walking in straight up to the body, stared at it for a few moments and walked out. The person was later seen outside the house chatting up people. Some closest relatives turned up only an hour before the funeral, passed a few comments on the generous soul and left without so much as a sympathetic pat to the grieving family. Other acquaintances called up to say “they had something important to do hence could not make it"; some bluntly said "be practical, if we have time will come."For some others, death wasn't serious enough to even call to offer condolences. All this only to settle some past differences. What better time for payback.
Display Superior Skills
Most families usually have at least one dominating member who will use every opportunity to display superior skills irrespective of the occasion.At one such funeral, it became a living nightmare for all to put up with the know-it-all dominating attitude of one person. No one was allowed to take any decisions regarding the funeral, all menial tasks delegated to the soft spoken and all significantly visible tasks efficiently handled by the self-professed all-rounder. Of course, the finances were to be equally shared. Any opposition resulted in fierce humiliation. Such people are usually a pro at family events and know how to grab eye-balls by playing hard working perfectionists. On another occasion, the grieved family was openly mocked that they did not know the customary rituals. The poignancy of death is somewhat lost in such milieu. Well, you can't choose your relatives.
Dress up Time
By far, I found this aspect of funeral behavior most amusing. The women size up everybody closely. They minutely scrutinize everybody from head-to-toe -jewellery; clothes; complexion; demeanor. Anything amiss will only indicate "serious problems in life" and be an opportunity to fuel a juicy gossip. Gone are the days when one was expected to dress down in dowdy whites and wearing any kind of makeup would be blasphemous. Not anymore. Not necessarily a designer party outfit, but something eye-catching is definitely the need of the hour.At one particular funeral, the women were visibly upset when asked by the priest to take ritual bath, as that would spoil their makeup. In another case, two women were overheard discussing the old-fashioned wall paint. It's not their personal loss anyways.
Time does not stop for anyone, life goes on. The grieving family comes to term with their loss, it may take months to overcome grief. It took me long to accept my father's passing. The image of the departed stays with those who have lost a dear one. Death is a fact every living soul will face sometime in their lives and so will the anecdotes described above.