Sorry I haven't been on in a while guys. I haven't had much time at all lately. Anyway, I need some advice.
Last month I went to a funeral and it basically had nothing to do with the person that died and everything to do with "saving" souls. It really pissed me off. The preacher even did an invitation for people to be saved at the alter.
So a couple of days ago a friend of mine that I have known all of my life passed away. His family is pretty religious, although he was not. His parents have told me about the arrangements and they said that, before the burial, they want to have his services at the church that they attend. I do love and respect this family. I know them all and I would feel bad if I didn't go. However, I do not want to sit through another service about cheesus and "getting right" with the invisible dude.
His 3 sisters know that I am atheist. His parents may or may not. I didn't bring it up to them when I was at their house yesterday, but I noticed that they seemed a little pushy about getting me to attend church with them. They've never done that to me before. Would it be disrespectful if I just sat outside the church and when they were finished I could just follow them to the cemetary?
How would you deal with this?
Becky, I know how you feel. My husband's father died a few months ago. Although I really didn't want to, we attended the funeral. Just as you said, it turned into preaching about Jesus and making sure everyone was saved. The preacher kept saying things like, "Walt wants to know that all of his children and family know Jesus" and "Walt felt the love of the Lord and wants all you to know Him too!" I felt that it took away from talking about this man's life. He was a religious person but he also served the community his entire life. He was a police officer for a majority of it [and the first sheriff of Mauldin, SC]. Yet, the preacher rarely mentioned any of his good deeds and stuck mainly to a church theatricals. It is not how I would want my funeral, at all...
If going to the church will upset you, I say just stick to the burial. When it comes down to it, don't do anything you don't want to do.
What I do, and did it at my father's funeral, which of course I had to attend, was just sit there, and then, it came to me... This should be taken like a "Haunted House" theme ride. Just look around at all the suffering statues, all the blood dripping from a naked man nailed to some wood, and get "spooked" by the words of the host (preacher, priest or whatever), just as you would get spooked at one of these rides. After all, it is a ritual, silly yes, but my friends and family need closure this way, so that's what I do. Most of all try to remember: Funerals are for the living, not the dead.
By the way, the priest on my dad's funeral was so drunk, someone had to remind him the name of the deceased. He kept calling him by another name. Of course, on the third time he did this I walked out, making sure everybody saw my disgust. This might sound strange, but I was laughing inside on the ridiculous situation, and very happy to humiliate this jerk and his parishioners who judged me with their looks. This was on a state in México (Aguascalientes) where I lost my dad. Nobody walks out on the priest, specially the Bishop in this case. Like I say, use it to amuse yourself. At least I have a pleasant memory about a very unpleasant time.Good luck!
I feel that people who push for funerals like that are doing it more for themselves than for the person who passed away. So my only advice would be don't go. Not for their sake for sure. I am very sure your friend would understand and respect you for not attending, to me that is all that actually matters.
You just need to keep your chin up and not let them guilt you into something you don't want to do.
I am really sorry for your loss.
From our peer Jennifer Michael Hecht we (H. Sapiens) have a formula for happiness that includes knowing death upclose and often. This is a secular, rational, materialist and humanist argument for acknowledging our humanness with the same cold stare as the departed.
A mere 3 generations ago we had elaborate rituals for sitting by the "death bed". The death watch went around the clock. This shit is real. This shit is about to happen to me. Death is familiar to every animal so us monkeys should suck it up. But back then anyone could join the procession at any time. Just go the the cemetery later with flowers and a candle if the priest's incense burns your mortal meat. Or go throw a dirt clod on his coffin after toking behind the grave stones while the preacher derp de derps.