Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “funerals”

Weird words: closure

I first learnt the meaning of the word “closure” as a student, in the context of student debates. When something was being discussed in a formal meeting, and a lot of people were repeating a lot of similar points, someone would say “I move closure”, and the chairman/speaker could put it to an immediate vote. If it was passed the chairman asked all those who wished to speak to raise their hands, and made a not of their names, and then no one else was allowed to speak. Closure meant that debate was closed.

More recently a new meaning has appeared.

When someone dies unexpectedly, and in an newsworthy manner, journalists ask how their family or friends how they feel, and they usually say, “We just want closure.”

This is duly reported by the media, and everyone seems to be satisfied.

If the bodies of those who were disappeared by the police during the apartheid era are recovered and reburied, journalists ask their family and friends how they feel, and they say “Now we have closure.”

This, too, is duly reported by the media, and everyone is satisfied.

I was never quite sure what this closure was, but clearly it was something people had or did not have when someone else had died.

Now here’s a new datum, which sets the cat among the pigeons: By Reader Request: Closure | Clarissa’s Blog: A reader asked the following question:

Is closure an American phenomenon? Do other cultures just say “piss off” and go on their merry ways?

And Blogger Clarissa replies that “closure” is indeed an American phenomenon, and is unknown in Russian or Ukrainian culture.

That leaves me wondering whether Ukrainian funerals are seen as an opportunity to tell the “dear departed” to “piss off”?

The loved one lives again

Evelyn Waugh’s 1940s send-up of the American funeral industry, The loved one seems to have taken on a new lease of life, and entered the digital era. There’s a site you can join, called “My Send Off” where you can plan your own funeral. It doesn’t say so, but I suspect that it is sponsored by the funeral industry (hat-tip to a tweet from BBC_WHYS).

Why do you need a funeral for a proper send-off? Read all about it here | Blog | Mourning-Avoidance: Why Everyone Deserves a Funeral Sendoff.

As befits our secular age, it’s an entirely secular plug for an entirely secular funeral: a secular humanist funeral to be exact, because the attitudes it argues against are just as secular, but not really humanist.

The site gives a lot of information about the various kinds of funerals that people can have. Apparently Star- Trek-themed funerals are quite popular. Oh, and if you register on the site, you get the opportunity win a pre-paid funeral. I wonder if it’s valid in South Africa?

If you register on the site you can also create your own “bucket list”. I clicked on that one to see what a bucket list is, and why I would need one, but it seems you have to register just to find out that. I assume it relates to the bucket that you kick when you die, but I didn’t see a section for “My Clogs List”, for the clogs that you pop.

Anyway, for my sendoff plans I want a proper Orthodox funeral with all the trimmings, but no kitsch supulchral haverdashery from the undertakers — no plastic grass, no fancy gadgets for lowering into the grave, just ropes from the same rural general dealer where I hope the coffin can be bought. Oh, and the Russian, not the Greek melody to “Blessed art Thou O God, teach me Thy statutes”, and not omitting “Thou only art immmortal”.

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