I was not invited to my ex-wife’s funeral, not even after 33 years of what I esteem to be a good marriage. She did not want me there, and when I went anyway, my son Ben put me in the hospital with the help of the local Kent, Connecticut guards “obeying orders, mein herr.” Awaking, relieved to find that I was not dead too, things did work out for the better. Now I’ve had time to reflect. Was I right to go, or wrong? I believe the Irish have it right; friends, enemies, everyone’s welcome, and it’s party time!
I asked “Ask Amy”. She said I was nothing more than a hooligan [maybe I am, but a proud hooligan I hope]. I asked my neighbor, who should know more about these things. He does, after all, run the local “Hollywood Forever” cemetery.
He pointed out that they always obeyed the wishes of the departed, but this was his view:
Personally, I do not feel that anyone should be excluded from a funeral – especially those who most need to find peace with the deceased. At Thai Buddhist funerals (never private), which we conduct often – a bowl of water is placed on the lap of the deceased. All of the mourners are given a small cup of water from a golden bowl. One by one, they pass by the deceased and pour the water into the bowl. The water represents all that remains unfinished, unexpressed, unsaid between the mourner and the deceased. To not allow proper mourning, to ignore rituals, to erase or deny death – well – it creates a haunted culture – the living unable to find peace because the dead have not been put to rest.
I like that. After all, that choice is the last one you are ever likely to make, because, well, it is after all.