Hejira

On Display

death takes a holiday

an on display collaboration: create a holiday
August 31. 2000

more self-portraits: accidents, but more abstract.

hair? skin?

*

lips

I really hate funerals.

I realize this position isn't exactly an uncommon one, as in I've never really met anyone who's enjoyed going to them. I dislike the idea and the theory behind them, and I hate the way they're executed.

I remember going to all sorts of funerals when I was younger, when my great-grandmothers and various great aunts and uncles died. I was young, but right away I developed a distaste for them. Everyone dressed and acted differently. People who I had never seen cry before were crying. I had to wear uncomfortable clothing and was made to sit still and be quiet. I distinctly remember going to my Nana's funeral when I was 8 or 9. I hated it, and all the funerals after that I obstinately refused to participate in, instead sitting in the car out in the parking lot for hours on end during the proceedings.

I remember my grandfather's funeral, almost five years ago. I remember sitting out on the porch of the funeral home, sobbing and crying, my parents and uncles and aunts gathered around me. I don't remember too much about the funeral, but I do remember why I was crying. I wasn't upset over the death or the loss of my grandfather, I was upset over the way everyone dealt with it.

My grandfather was not Russian Orthodox chants and incense that made my eyes burn, lots of garish flowers gathered around the casket and a long church service that made me tired. My grandfather was model trains, working out in his garden and sitting in his easy chair, a cigarette in one hand and the tv remote in the other. That's what I hate about funerals: they're so selfish. No one's celebrating the life of the person who's gone, they're too busy trying to figure out how to cope without the person in their life. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I think it's something necessary and healthy. But I don't think that's how a funeral should be.

I'm not saying I want a holiday from death, but I want a holiday from all the implications that come with it. We've built death into some sort of mystical institution that disgusts me. Caskets, funeral homes, ugly flowers, hospitals, doctors, turning off the machines. People used to die in their homes surrounded by loved ones. Now more often than not they die in hospitals, surrounded by a thousand beeping machines. Then come the official motions of mourning, the viewing, the funeral, the internment, lots of food made for the grieving family, etc. I don't know how to change these things, I just know I want them to change.

But, regardless of how I feel, I have to go to one tomorrow. Of my own free will, no less. Because I feel the need to. I evaluated the reasons why I had decided to go, trying to make sure they weren't selfish. The person who died I didn't know well, but he was the father of one of my good friends from high school, and I want to be there for her. I don't know what I'll say when I see her, probably an awkward "I'm sorry" before lurking to some quiet corner.

I just really hate funerals.

One Year Ago:
I start this thing.