Always A Funeral…

If I tallied up all the funerals I have been to, it would be a percentage of over 99%. How many weddings have I been to? Three. Please don’t invite me to anything you don’t truly want me to attend.

Let me clarify that my own family has chosen to exclude me from every wedding, even my first cousins managed to exclude me. If ever I choose to get married, I can do so with less than ten people in attendance. My list currently stands at under ninety people, most of whom are friends of five years or longer; the kind you feel will happily stand up for you and those you will hopefully have for the remainder of your life. The person who stands by your side is ultimately far more important than the numbers, believe me.

Last Monday was a somber affair. I’d never attended a Catholic funeral before. I found is colder and unfeeling, but I suspect part of my newfound emotional detachment had a lot to do with how I viewed it. It’s not about religion, so much as it is about the state of a funeral while we are still actively dealing with Covid.

I know a Jewish funeral backward and forward. I can probably recite it by rote. If you have a good Rabbi, there is a very emotional, spiritual feeling in the air. Even my non-religious/spiritual friends have told me they feel like Jewish funerals are more involved/in touch. In essence, it makes sense I’d feel more connected there.

I remember my father’s funeral very clearly because I gave the eulogy. We are incredibly lucky to have an amazing Rabbi who deeply cares for our family, so even now, over a decade later, speaking to him is heartwarming. He will always leave you with a piece of wisdom, and I never forget his sparks or good deeds. He’s an innately good person. Prior to meeting him, I had never been able to connect with any man/woman of G-d. I found all of them so clinical and uncaring. He is the exception, not the rule.

Funerals are something I’m used to. I shouldn’t be, but I am. I get invited to more of them than any other thing in this world. While that is a strange thing to be invited to, I don’t feel like paying your respects is something you get invited to, or not. It’s something you do. Hopefully for the right reasons.

As the funeral was winding down, the “host” gave me a hug and told me I was a good person. I was taken aback by that statement. I wish more people said positive things through their pain, as opposed to those who shut everyone out. Yet, I did not feel the need to thank anyone who came to my father’s funeral or my mother’s. For me, showing up (if you are able) is a sign of respect. It is not your good deed.

Perhaps I am alone in these thoughts. Perhaps not. But unlike many, I try to show up and be present. I actually try harder than most. Even if it means being the only person who speaks and is fully present.

copyright ©2021 by Lisa Marino and Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Discussions of Funerals and Such

Today is the funeral of a friend of the family who died as a result of Covid 19. My brother is there now, and there’s nothing I can do except be encouraging, even though it puts me into the headspace where I relive every funeral I’ve ever been to. Funerals aren’t usually anyone’s cup of tea, but my brother especially, is not good with them. He has his reasons, and they’re perfectly understandable. That’s why he texted me this morning to ask if he looked okay and to go over certain things since we don’t usually get asked to attend non-Jewish funerals. There are religious and cultural differences between the two, believe me.

I’m in an okay element at the majority of funerals I attend. I’m being brutally honest when I say I’m invited to funerals, but no one ever invites me to their wedding. I’m serious about this, too, so don’t invite me to a wedding out of pity. I have nothing to offer there.

Having always been honest about life and death is likely crucial to how I handle things as an adult. My mother didn’t try to pretty it up for me when my Grandfather died, or when subsequent family members passed away after the fact. There were no bullshit stories in my home growing up, and I had no tolerance when people attempted bullshit stories with me. I haven’t changed on that level.

I cringe when people tell me how they (tried to) explain death to a child (at age three-ish or so), and fucked up royally (My words, not theirs. They think they did the right thing. My eyes rolled to Japan and are on their way back. Excuse me one moment.). I’m mortified by the shit they tell their kids because that level of dishonesty will shape them as they get older, and I’m not good with it. To this day, I still can’t tolerate the lies people tell. If you ever wonder how dishonest you come off, ask me and I’ll tell you.

Yes, I was the kid who told all the other kids that Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy weren’t real. And I’d do it all over again, too. I mildly got in trouble for my honesty growing up, but it was mostly in the sense that my mother understood why I was being so honest, and told me it was the responsibility of other parents to also be honest with their children, or not. And if “not” was on the table, then I needed to try and keep my mouth shut, so as not to interfere with what they wanted their children to believe. I don’t think I’ve ever been on board with that.

In my eyes, a funeral is where you go and pay your respects. You’re not doing it for you or those involved (unless you’re really close with them), you’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do. Period. Respect is something I find lacking in so many relationships these days, and it’s disgusting to me. If you are unable to attend, then you send something, based solely on your relationship with the survivors of the deceased. I generally send cards and fruit baskets, but last year, when my cousins lost their mother to cancer, I had trees planted in Israel in memory of her, because I knew it would mean more to them, and it did.

When my father passed away, I sorted through hundreds of cards. I’m not exaggerating; cards came daily for over three months, and there were a decent amount of people at his funeral. When my mother passed away, I didn’t get five cards in total, and I got only three phone calls. It was bizarre as hell. My support system (i.e: Family) sucked then and it sucks even worse now. I cope differently than I used to. The person who buried her parents five months apart is a completely different woman now. I am colder, harsher, and darker, but I respect myself more for that than I once did. You see, these hard things change you, and when they do, you should honor the change, and not think of it as something awful. Change means growth. That’s not negative, and don’t let people tell you otherwise.

Did I want to burn my Aunt and Uncle’s house down after my father’s funeral? Absolutely, but I didn’t (Instead, I marched over to my Uncle’s grave and tore his spirit a new asshole. It felt good to get the anger out of my system, in the moment.). Did I want to rip people to shreds at my mother’s funeral? Yes. Instead, I stayed quiet, behind dark sunglasses, like a lady, and spoke when spoken to, after eulogizing my mother. I admire the woman I was that day because behind her pain, she was poised as hell. I am still poised. If you’re kind to me, I will be kind in turn. If you’re disrespectful, it’s not beneath me to throw you into the nearest open grave and shovel dirt over you. Everyone picks their own poison with me, no pun intended.

Today, I am sad. I’m sad that people still don’t seem to understand how serious this pandemic is and I’m sad many people have had to say goodbye to loved ones way too soon, and I’m angry with the knowledge that much of this could have been prevented.

I’d like to go back to normal. I’d like to not have to wear a mask (I’ve nearly walked out without one so many times.). I’d like to not have to worry about whether or not I’ve touched something that may be contaminated, etc. I’d like for people to feel safe again and not be worried, but I’m too realistic for that. Naturally, I have definitive opinions on the three vaccines that were pushed through and approved in less than a year, too, but that’s a discussion for another day and, possibly, a different audience entirely.

For today, I wish everyone the best and hope that you’re safe, healthy, and coping to the best of your ability. If you’re not, please know you’re not alone.

copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED