Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Funeral Rubber Neckers

Cross-posted from MyLifeLine.org  09/29/09 7:56 PM

I purchased an additional bookshelf. This means I was able to pull many books out of storage and keep them within arms reach: books I've read, books I barely remember buying, and some I forgot that I have. In this process I came across "Before I Say Goodbye" by Ruth Picardie. I sat down last night and read it. I found myself relating so well not only to Ruth's situation, I also related to her, albeit English, sense of humor and methods of coping.

In the book, she tells her husband who is on list A and who is on List B of people who are allowed to attend her funeral. She talks about her disgust with funeral rubber neckers. We all know them. These are the ones who weren't especially close to the person who passed and they show up at the funeral hoping to be seen by the funeral attendance takers thereby earning a label of not only close [insert relationship] of the deceased, also horribly bereaved funeral attendee. It amuses me because I have told my family the same thing. I've instructed them to hire bouncers for my service to throw out people who simply do not belong there, the ones who are in it for visibility or public relations purposes.

That way no one in my family will be burdened with receiving overly dramatic condolences from people whose names they've never heard or look at each other shrugging at the wailing fatty in the corner who none of them recognize.  We all know these people who show up even though the deceased barely knew them or may have even disliked them, however they take up space hoping it will help them in the ever-after.

Since I fancy myself somewhat a celebrity (yes, these delusions preceded my illness), I initially considered giving out admissions tickets; but even my closest friends would scalp those suckers in a flash if it meant being able to buy a pair of Christian Louboutins. That's why they are my friends!


  1. Oh Jennie, I had to smile as I read this as I had never heard of funeral rubber neckers...I just can't imagine someone enjoying funerals even when they have to be there but you seem to know more than I do.
    I hope you are doing okay Jennie, am keeping you and your family in my prayers...:-) Hugs

  2. I got an education and a laugh tonight. Nice post!

  3. I could not imagine attending a funeral just for "show."

    I dread attending funerals. They make death so real and they are so sad.

    Nowadays, I always have an internal debate about whether or not to attend. Everyone understands if I do not show up. But it is considered a mitzvah and an act of kindness to to attend.

    Only once did I attend a funeral where I was not so close to the mourner. The mourner was a not-so-close friend, but someone with whom I really connected. I stayed in the background, and knew that she would not know that I was there. Still, I felt like I needed to show support and attend (this was many years ago). I am not sorry that I went.

    In any case, I only attended the eulogies. My family tradition is not to visit the cemetary, even for a funeral, as long as both your parents are alive. I respect that and hope not to visit a cemetary for many more years....

  4. ps. you might want to check out the "Friday Footwear" posts on Robert Avrech's blog:

  5. I've been thinking about your post for several days. I had never heard about funeral rubber-neckers, or thought about the concept.You educated me with the term and your thoughts. But, I do understand about "overly dramatic condolences." I think sometimes people think they are being sympathetic, but they are adding a burden because they cannot handle their own grief. I think if people say what they need to say before the funeral, it helps them and it helps the immediate family. I also think people are also responding to fears for their own mortality.