Building a Better Bloke

Funerals suck

Posted in Death by Sam de Brito on October 26, 2009

By The Ginger

They can be emotional, solemn and, when the fans inside the church are broken, inconveniently hot. Some people find them comforting and uplifting. However, I can’t think of a single person who would rather attend a funeral than not have to.

Sadly, they’re also one of few certainties in this world (the old idiom included taxes as well, but Paul Hogan has pretty much up-ended that one), and for men, they present a boiling stew of unfamiliar emotion.

Unfamiliar, not because we haven’t felt it before, but because a lot of us shy away from it like Jarryd Hayne dodging a tackle, and so we never have to face up to what we feel. Funerals do not give you that option …

It’s not just the grief, though that’s debilitating enough; it’s a sense of sudden vulnerability.

The cold truth is that death is inevitable and at a funeral, you begin to realise, dimly, what that means.

It’s a powerful, sobering, essential moment. If I can get all deep and boring for a moment, to be a man is to realise that someday, you won’t be.

When it’s somebody particularly close to you who’s died, it can feel like a part of yourself has been amputated – or torn away. It’s like surgery, and surgery, no matter how drastic, is dedicated to the greater good; in this case it comes afterward, when you’re trying to piece yourself together into a smaller whole.

For that reason funerals are essential.

Blokes, whether through centuries of social conditioning or some biological quirk, don’t really get on first-name terms with their emotion.

Funerals are about the only place we can let go of our grief, even if we don’t know how to do it.

Some men, having held everything in up to this point, go utterly to pieces, feeling everything crash on them at once – their sadness, sense of loss, and fear at the spectre of The Void looming closer with every ticking second.

Some guys fight through it like they’re weathering a storm, tight-lipped and rigid as iron, then smash seventeen beers into themselves at the wake and beat the hell out of somebody.

Some make a joke of the whole thing, sticking with the funny stories and teasing the departed (usually, they’re the person that gets bashed by the grieving drunk).

So what’s the best way to deal with them?

I’ve been a stand-out proponent of joking around since my brother was killed in a car crash earlier this year, but I’m smart enough (I hope) to know that’s just another method of denial – pretending everything’s funny, when clearly it isn’t.

I know the best solution in broad theory is “deal with it, grieve, and move on”.

But how?

What does “dealing with it” entail?

Is there a set list somewhere, a soundtrack for personal growth in these situations?

You can’t just booze up and hope it all goes away. Can you?

Then again, does it matter how you deal with things, so long as they’re dealt with?

Everybody has to learn to cope eventually.

Those who don’t, well, they’re liable to end up starring at their own funeral.

The Ginger is a guy who can’t list any accomplishments of note, but that doesn’t stop him trying, particularly after six beers.

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2 Responses

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  1. Mikes said, on October 27, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    I hate funerals. Many years ago buried two of my children and wasn’t able to cry or let my emotions out at either. I felt guilty about it for a long time before being able to rationalise that I wasn’t able to due to the overwhelming nature of it all.

    I recently had to write and read the eulogy for my older sister and afterwards was able to express my emotions much better and I definitely felt better for it afterwards. Be a man and show some emotion!

  2. rohanm said, on November 3, 2009 at 12:43 am

    I have been to way to many funerals , but I have never regretted going to one . Its important for both yourself and the people your supporting. If you think you need to work something out , the do it , dont just swallow it down without doing something. People are relying on you .

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