Warning! If you’re not in the mood for a rant then read no further.
I don’t know if it’s the upcoming 2nd anniversary of my mother’s death or the year anniversary of my brother’s death (“anniversary” seems such a glib way to phrase that) or that I’ve been in an almost continual fog since Christmas or maybe I’m just in a pissy mood. But, I’ve been thinking a lot about people’s responses to death lately. And the more I think about it the angrier I get.
What really bothers me is how everyone gathers at the funeral, wake, whatever... and talks about what a good fella old joe was and how he’ll be missed and they tell all the stories of things he did for them or they for him etc, etc, etc.... Problem is, most if not all of them couldn’t be bothered to phone, write, text, email, visit, or in any other way interact with old joe during the last years of his life when he was ill, mostly home bound or possibly confined to a nursing home and could have really used some positive interaction, an occasional blast from the past, just an intermittent, “Hey, I’m glad my friend is still around to talk with!”. No, they much prefer to show their concern long after old joe is long gone and will never feel their concern or love. It’s a show of their empathy, a display of their compassion for the masses.
Had this been my experience with one or two elderly or infirmed, I don’t think I would be so adamant in my thinking. However, I’ve been involved with numerous individuals in these situations and almost to a fault, this is the way it has fallen out. And I think it’s a horrible statement regarding society as a whole. As a born again, baptized Christian, I find these actions in the church family especially egregious. More often than not, those who are supposed to be shepparding the congregation, the pastors, the deacons, etc... are all about what ever it takes to care for the flock while in the church. But, let a congregant fall ill and become unable to continue to attend services, they might as well not exist anymore because they will rarely be visited or contacted by anyone in the church family. At least that’s been my experience.
Now, you may be saying that I just haven’t attended the right church and you could be right, I would never discount your values. But I’ve attended several churches for long periods of time and discussed this matter with other long time church goers (from both sides of the issue) and have invariably found this to be true. This and a lot of petty bickering and back bitting. It turns out being little more than another high school experience on steroids. At this time, for me, faith does not involve organized religion.
As my condition has worsened, of all the people I have known in my life, outside of my immediate family, it has come down to two people who can find the time to occasionally keep in touch with me. One, an aunt in her 90’s, calls regularly. Assuming she is still around when my time expires, there is no way she will be able to attend my services but what she’s doing now means much more to me and my family than anything she could ever do for me after I’m gone. The other, ive never met in person. But we manage to contact each other almost daily. We have a kinship in a way in that we both are walking this same dark path. But that is not what binds us, it brought us together, but friendship, a genuine caring, keeps us in touch.
So, when my time comes don’t expect some somber, snot slinging service. I’ve told my wife I want a day long, Jimmy Buffett style tail gate celebration of our life together. So if you didn’t have the time to write, call, text, email, visit, etc... then, dont bother putting on your lei and sandles and DON’T SEND ME FLOWERS!