Sunday, August 2, 2009

Does Anyone Else Think This is Wierd? Or is it Just Me?

Mrs. Grumpy went to a funeral last week, and just returned yesterday.

I've never heard of this (and neither had she) but the family had hired a professional photographer! I am not making this up. As each group of guests came in they were asked to have their picture taken standing by the casket (mercifully closed) and widowed spouse ("say 'cheese' everyone!").

After everyone was there, the photographer filmed the whole ceremony, including burial. You could sign up to have a free CD of the funeral soundtrack sent to you, or (for only $9.95) also get a DVD with video so you can always revisit the excitement.

This was all part of the package that was offered by the mortuary.

I have nothing against photographers. They work at weddings, parties, Bar Mitzvahs, etc. But I've never heard of similar stuff being done at funerals.

Am I out of touch? Is this normal these days? Does anyone else think this is strange?

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

This place offers funeral video and the page discusses why you mighy want it. I read on another blog that a small child's mother's funeral was taped so the child would be able to see and hear the tributes later on.

I don't know...I can't see myself saying, "Let's pop in Aunt Isadora's funeral video...what memories!"

>:)

D

David said...

On the scale of strange things, that's pretty high. On the other hand, when my Uncle passed away as per Russian tradition we all went for drinks after the funeral.

quixote said...

"Strange" is a polite, strangely ungrumpy way to put.

Pink Martini said...

Come to think of it I went to a memorial that was taped because there was a LUAU afterwards and everyone was asked to wear Hawaiian shirts or bright clothing. Very different feeling a couple hours later at the graveside though. Very somber with no cameras. The photo at the casket I think is very odd.

Anonymous said...

My wife is Vietnamese and every Vietnamese funeral I've been to does something like this. It's a cultural thing. I'm sure where the deceased in your case came from, but I'm betting it's a cultural thing.

Another thing about Vietnamese funerals is that they stick around for the grave diggers to lower the casket into the ground and fill the hole with dirt.

When my wife was kid, in Vietnam, her grandmother's body was left in the house for two days during some period of mourning. She says that there was some sort of embalming done, but I imagine it would have started to smell.

PharmacyJim said...

Uh, just me, but I DO think that is strange. But whatever the family wants, I guess.

Anonymous said...

That's very strange. Buying the DVD is just too weird. Was it so entertaining the first time around that they just have to see it again?

At a funeral I went to a couple of years ago, the dead guy's ex-wife was filming the whole thing. I know it's kinda wrong, but I had to keep myself from laughing hysterically at the fact that not only was someone actually filming it, but it was his ex-wife. I kept wondering if she hated him and wanted the video as proof that he was finally dead or something.

I've also seen people take pictures of the body in the coffin. I can imagine them looking through a photo album years later and saying, "And there's grandpa at his funeral. Didn't he look so life-like?!"

WTF?


L.

Anonymous said...

Foreplay for necrophiles perhaps?

warmsocks said...

Posing for photos by the casket is beyond strange.

I would have appreciated a video of my grandfather's memorial service, since I couldn't attend.

Hospital Lab Tech said...

My first thought was 'YIKES!' but reading the above comment about a child watching it at a later stage in their life, maybe, just possibly, recording the event may be worthwhile in those circumstances.

But photos?!?!?! That's weird.

danielle said...

I have heard of this before. Probably within the last decade. Altho I do remember seeing antique photos of funerals and all. Not sure that this is something I would subscribe to!

Anonymous said...

It depends on the atmosphere I guess. If this was a celebration of the person's life during the funeral, and people were caught with the "Remember when he/we..." stories, the DVD may be invaluable. However, the pictures by the coffin were strange. I guess it all comes down to what made his immediate family happy. Funerals are as much for the living as they are for the dead. Hopefully someone can keep an eye on the widow to make sure she is in the right frame of mind. When the cameras and people have gone, and she realizes her husband is in the ground, how will she take it?

Ninjamedic said...

In the course of my hospice duties I have often been asked to pose with a dying person whilst their family take photos. I'm not talking about a person who is still A&O, I'm talking about a person who is agitated, confused and who is sometimes comatose - scoring a GCS of 3 or 4. Being asked to pose is uncomfortable to say the least, but I've never refused because I don't think it's my place.

Hiring a professional company to film a funeral and then hawk copies of the CD like it's an event or something is a little bit much, though.....even for me.

CrownedwithVictory said...

One week after my mother's funeral last year I received a package in the mail. In the envelope was a CD of the service. I dropped it like a hot rock and burst into tears...WHY would I want to relive that day over and over, and WHY did my brother think I needed to own it? I had no idea that it was part of the funeral "package" and he was just sending me my part.

The weirdest ever, though, is memorial jewelry. MIL had FIL's ashes seperated into 3 seperate parcels: the big urn, the tiny urn, and the locket that she wears around her neck. Yes, she wears a dead man's ashes around her neck. We have the big urn here, and at Christmas she packs the little urn and places it on our mantle. Creepy. To each his own, but I would rather remember the good times of happier and healthier days.

Chris said...

We have several photos in the family albums (yes, really) of various relatives in the casket. This is on the Italian side of the family. They were all from the late 60s, early 70s, though - seemed to be a phase that the family went through. But the whole videotaping? Creeeeepy.....

Not Nurse Ratched said...

It does seem kinda weird. But I can see where in some situations people would to do it (absentee relatives etc). But offering a CD of the service to everyone...no, I can't think of any redeeming value to that.

Anonymous said...

nope, dont find it strange at all.
but i would find open caskets a bit off putting. but then again i dont "do" funerals. except for my own that is.

peedee said...

Your right. Its flippen wierd. Cultural or not.

Anonymous said...

My mom passed away last year, 7 weeks after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and a video of her funeral was made available. My mom's service was a celebration of her life, and many people were sharing fond and fairly humorous anecdotes during the service. There was more laughter at that funeral than any other I have been to, exactly as she wanted. I think the video was part of the package, but I wasn't involved in it and wouldn't occur to me that anyone would want that. My sister has a copy which she got for my niece, who was hugely pregnant and unable to travel to the service, but she hasn't watched it (nor has anyone else). I really think it's a new add on offered by funeral homes, along with the slide show of photos set to music. I guess you never know what people are going to want.

Anonymous said...

When I was pregnant with my first child, my friend's mother showed me pictures of her dead baby that was born at 5 months, and it was very disturbing pics, and I got so scared. What a nice thing to show to a first time expecting mother...And she was showing to me like she was proud of this, she's was a very disturbed woman I found out.

Anonymous said...

I have a couple of photos from about a hundred years ago of members of my family with a person in a propped-up coffin. Cameras were relatively rare back then and this may have been the only photograph ever taken of the deceased. Family members would travel for hundreds of miles on horseback or by wagon to attend the funeral and the photos may have been the only chance to have a picture of all the family together. Not so weird...

I do find it weird that people used to take locks of the dead person's hair and fashion jewelry of the hair and woud actually wear it, but fashions change and ideas change...

It also used to be common for family members to wear "mourning" clothes for a year or more to pay respect to a family member. Some widows wore mourning clothes the rest of their lives after the death of a spouse.

I would not want a DVD of a family member's funeral unless it was one of the celebration-type funerals or if some of the people in the film were also dead now. And, no, I wouldn't think anyone would watch the film "for fun," but maybe to just remember the anecdotes or other deceased family and/or friends...
Classof65

Phillipia said...

Too weird for me...

But I am all for the drinks and partying after the funeral...celebrate the life - remember the good times...hopefully there were lots...

Diane said...

I could see if most of the family had moved away (children) and they wanted a video of old family friends coming by to pay their respects? Otherwise it is kind of creepy.

Becky the Techie said...

My grandmother had photos from Granddad's funeral ca.1965. I think culturally speaking, it goes in phases here in the States, as well as relating to what ethnicity the deceased and his/her family is from. That said, having been at some horribly busy and emotional funerals, I can sort of understand the photos by the casket as a way for the surviving relatives to remember who was there to pay their respects, perhaps for thank you cards or something? I certainly wouldn't kick up a fuss if it was asked of me, but it's not exactly something I'd want as part of a memorial service for myself. (I'd prefer my ashes scattered in the Rocky Mtns. and then the people who give a fig going to a good restaurant w/ a bar to eat like kings and get hammered, just like we would if I were still there.)

You're Blinking! said...

We have a couple of DVD's around from my great-grandma's funeral and my uncle's, as various members of the family weren't able to make it, and the baby was only a couple of weeks old.

It may be a cultural thing, but I have no problem with the deceased being home before the ceremony - I would have trouble grieving properly if they didn't come home or come back to the marae.

Theresa said...

I think the weirdest thing is that so many people think they have a right to judge what this family has done. To each their own and especially with grief.

Miss Chevious said...

I'm from LA (lower Alabama) and I remember when my best friend from CT's father died, he took pictures of his dad in the casket. I was mortified. I was always taught that you just didn't DO that sort of thing. I guess it was a Yankee thing. Oh, and in Birmingham, AL they have a drive by funeral parlor. They put the casket in the window and you drive by and view it. They even have a fast food type window so you can sign the guestbook, all without getting out of the car.

The apocolypse is nigh, I'm sure of it (sigh).

Beloved Parrot said...

I took a couple of pictures of my dad in his casket, which I carefully put away and haven't looked at since. But one day I might want to. Better to have them and not want to see them than to want to see them and not have them.

I don't know of anyone, though, who's recorded a funeral or memorial service.

And I confess that when my most beloved parrot was near death I got on the internet and searched for death jewelry. I wanted to hold onto to even just a tiny bit of her, even if it was only an ash or two -- not to wear necessarily but just to keep in an honorable way. The remaining ashes would have been buried in the back yard. But she made a miraculous (and expensive!) recovery, so it's a moot point. For now.

mommanator said...

I have a friend who is a funeral planner-honest to GOD!
She will do the funeral in any theme ya want
for example if you're Italian she will have pasta,pizza, wine whatever and the funeral home could be made to look like an Italian restaurant!

mommanator said...

I think the weirdest thing to do with ashes ever is; there is this lady out west somewhere who does paintings with the ashes so you can have to deceased HANG around forever!

Anonymous said...

My ex-husband died a few years ago....his always strange and idiotic family has continued having yearly family portraits taken at xmas time and sent out to everyone....WITH HIS FRAMED PICTURE BEING HELD BY SOMEONE DIFFERENT EACH YEAR!!!! My poor son finally refused to be a part of it last year and told them all that it was just "weird"...he's 9..and apparently has much more sense than they do :)

Capt. Schmoe said...

My wife cimes from a long line of "Shanty Irish". They have numerous funeral photos including ones of the deceased laid out in the casket. We have always thought this a little odd, especially when my father in law asked my wife to get a shot of her mother in the box so it could be sent to "the relates".

Frankly, I don't remember if she did it or not, but I can assure you that no pics will be taken of him when his time comes.

I have been told that back in the day, they would bring the casket to the deceased's home on the night before the funeral and party like it's 1899. I get the party bit, but the casket in the living room, I don't know.

Ninjamedic said...

For the commenters who mentioned old photographs of people in caskets: they are called memento mori and are a very common late 19th/early 20th century thing (I collect them). Most people didn't own a camera and rarely had the opportunity to have their photo taken, so often the photos of their corpses are the only pictures their families had of them (especially if they were children or infants). Often they were posed in 'lifelike' positions, and sometimes the photographers painted 'eyes' onto their faces to make them seem ...well, not quite so dead.

Also, I'd like to point out that there is a HUGE difference between a videographic tribute to someone's life and a video including close up views of them in their coffin. The former I can deal with. The latter....yeah. Not so much (says the girl who collects hundred year old photos of deceased strangers).

Theresa said...

Dr Grumpy I do love your blog but I just have to comment again.

I have buried a child, it is the worst experience of my life and I can't see anything more awful than that happening to me again in this life.

The comments I read here I find incredibly hurtful,and mainly they come from just not knowing, which is truly a great thing that people do not know how awful grief can be.

To the lady commenting on how strange the family is for having a framed photo in their family portraits. Can you just stop and think for a minute how gut wrenching it is to take those family portrits when one of your children is no longer there? How it feels like you will never again have a "true" family photo because forever there will be one person missing? Time may change how they do things, it may not but please just think for a second how it might feel if it was you.

If people need to heal by doing seemingly strange or weird things do we not at least let them do what it takes, say I'm sorry and be thankful we are not in their shoes. Because believe me until you are, you have no idea what YOU would do that someone else would find strange.

No, I personally do not have a dvd or photos of my child's funeral, nor do we hold a picture of her but I do accept what other people need to do to help them heal. There is no right or wrong in grief, it just is...

Jenna said...

Last year at my 92 year old grandmother's funeral, they taped it. I haven't ever gotten very far past when my cousin's and I sang. We started off ok, then about 2 lines into the song my cousin (17) started crying. Then the next one (16), and then me. Towards the end of the second part of the song the 17 year old starts giggling b/c she realizes how horrible we are now sounding and how ridiculous we must look. Which caused the 16 year old, and then myself to follow with the giggles. I still get embarassed when I see it and have yet to go any further into the taping.
It is nice, however, to see the memorial powerpoint that the mortuary made. We didn't get a copy of it, just what was shot in their video. So there's that benefit.
Otherwise, the concept is sort of weird.

Anonymous said...

At my grandfather's funeral we all took turns standing up at the podium and telling fart jokes. Granddaddy loved fart jokes! My aunt also filmed the ceremony and people took pictures of him in the casket--which I am told is a Southern tradition. They're called "death portraits." Then after the funeral they watched the video several times over the next few days. I couldn't underrstand why they wanted to keep reliving it--I went outside every time they put it on.

Mike Looney said...

http://youtu.be/fsHk9WC7fnQ

Warning not work safe, however is on topic.

 
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