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This is a question Putting the Fun in Funeral

Some deaths come suddenly or too soon and can really hit hard, others seem to be a blessed relief. Similarly, some funerals can be deeply upsetting and sad, others can make you want to hug the world.

Mmm, don't want to bring you down or anything, but tell us your funeral stories...

(, Thu 11 May 2006, 9:31)
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Not me
(never been to one, fortunately), but my dad told us a few years ago about a conversation with someone he hadn't seen for a few years. He mentioned that he'd been to a funeral.
'Oh, I'm sorry, anyone I knew?'

'No, I just saw there was one happening so I decided to go.'
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 18:04, Reply)
Scattering Jake's ashes
Some ten years ago, I owned horses. My best friend had a lovely old horse, Jake, for her daughter. Tragically, they'd only owned him for some three weeks when he was struck down with colic and had to be put down. Jake's previous owner had made it a condition of his transfer that as and when he popped his clogs, she would pay for him to be cremated and his ashes were to be scattered on the field where he last lived. As my friend had real problems getting her head around the logistics of his cremation and what happened afterwards, I offered to help out with it.

Our first problem was that the ashes went AWOL. I spent a day on the phone to the Abattoir and all points east, trying to track him down. At 6pm, I eventually tracked him down to the stable yard from which he had been bought. I went and collected him - at about 2ft x 2ft 6ins, an extraordinarily small box for such a large creature - and he stayed in the boot of my estate car until the weekend, when we would be able to attend to his enscatterment with due ceremony. It felt very strange, knowing he was back there as I was driving along. I kept apologising to him for going too fast over the bumps, and felt as thought I should leave a carrot or two for him overnight.

I met up with his owners at the stables and brought the cardboard box through for them to see. We weren't sure how much of the whole cremation thing the daughter understood at 8yrs old and so we were slow in opening the box and investigating further, so as to give her plenty of time to get used to each stage in the process. Quite apart from anything else, WE weren't too sure what to expect.

Consequently, we were as nervous as a pair of kittens when we came to opening that box. We started to get the giggles when we realised that the cardboard box was so well sealed with packing tape, it was almost as though they expected him to make a bid for freedom. We opened up that box using just our fingertips, at arm's length and with an attitude of someone expecting a large white horse to burst out of it with a sign around his neck, saying "Fooled Ya!".

So ... there inside the cardboard box was not, as we anticipated, a lot of finely ground ashes ... but a plastic bag. We then ponder on whether to undo the knot on the plastic bag, or cut it open. Hmmn. Well, there's still a chance that horse might pop up like a Jack-In-The-Box, so we'll opt for untying. We lost two fingernails before we lost patience and hit it with the scissors, revealing inside the plastic bag .. a pine box.

Now, we've SERIOUSLY got the giggles. I wrestle with getting the pine box out of the plastic bag, out of the cardboard box. That done, we see something wrapped in more packing tape and plastic, inside the bag, beside the casket.

Its his shoes. *sob* Never did a set of four horseshoes look so forlorn. They'd still got the nails in them. They, quite obviously, were still attached to him when he went in for cremation. Too much .. they go back in the bag and get tucked away in the cupboard.

So - we're still no closer to being able to sprinkle these ashes - and we're now both giggling and in tears. The next job is to work out how to get inside the casket. There's no discernible fixings or way to open it. By now, we're not sure we really WANT to open it, but we promised so we were committed. I turned the casket over and there, on the underside, were eight screw heads. I tell you, this whole thing was capable of withstanding nuclear attack, it was so well sealed. We purloin a screwdriver and get to work on the screws, which turn out to be about four inches long. We're rapidly getting the idea that most people don't open these caskets.

In time, the screws are undone and the base plate of the casket is ready to be removed. We've lost the Jack-In-The-Box idea now, so its not too difficult to do. There underneath, at last, is .. another plastic bag. Okay, so now we're in hysterics. Crying, laughing, hanging onto each other, gasping for breath .... its the never ending story of Jake's ashes. Somehow, we pull ourselves together and continue.

This time, we're quite convinced that there's going to be another box inside the bag, so we set to with the scissors to cut off the knot in the bag top. There, inside, he is. A flipping gigantic great pile of dark grey dust. Pause for breath and composure. The ashes are much finer than we'd anticipated - and a lot heavier. Its definitely a wheelbarrow and shovel job. Definitely not a "graceful sprinkling lightly from the fingers, while delicate lace hankies are held to brimming eyes", job.

Daughter joins us and is quite unconcerned at the sight of the ashes - and completely unmoved by how both her Mother and myself appeared to be just a tad deranged. So, the next problem is exactly where in the field. After all, its about 20 acres. As the wheelbarrow is heavy and we're flagging a bit, we decide that anywhere qualifies as "scattering him on his field which he loved so much", so we'd just get on with it.

Roll sleeves up, dig shovel in and try to encourage the ashes to fall gracefully in an even sprinkle. Nope. They fall, with a heavy plop, in one lump. Next shovelful, we adopt the windmill technique and throw them in an arcing curve .. which the wind then catches and throws back at us, covering us from head to foot. After much spitting and spluttering, we're verging on hysterics again.

Daughter, very wisely, decides to leave us to it and wanders off again muttering about "barking mad". We've cracked the scattering technique, as the windmill approach works beautifully, provided you throw them downwind of yourself. However, as we reach about halfway down the bag, we realise that some lumps are starting to appear in the fine ashes. Further fingertip exploration reveals that there are shards of bone, but they are literally knife sharp! No good at all for spreading across a field where horses (and a donkey) were roaming.

So, there we are, sorting through the remaining ashes which have had to be tipped out into the wheelbarrow and placing the shards into the plastic bag. Quickly, before daughter comes back and we have to explain about the lumps of Jake we're having to sort out. We're up to our elbows in him, by that time, crying with laughter at the absurdity of it all. We, plus the whole stable yard and farm are wearing him, thanks to the wind. Scattered? I'll say he was scattered.

We dutifully continue spreading the now-sifted remains - and carry the rest wrapped in plastic in a pocket. By this time we're breathless with laughter, as each sweep of the shovels sends ashes to all points of the compass, riding on the wind. During which, I notice Lucy. The donkey. Staring. At us.

Warning bells went off in my head, but I was beside myself by then and didn't really hear them. We managed to scatter the last two shovelfuls as Lucy approached, long chocolate brown ears pricked to attention and bright eyes alight with curiosity. She reached the first of the piles which had just "plopped", instead of scattered ... and delicately sniffed at it. She raised her head and looked thoughtfully at us as we hung onto each other for support and realisation dawned as to her intent.

You see, there's nothing that donkeys like more, than a dust bath. Down she went, over onto her side, onto her back until all four feet were pointing skywards and she wriggled and squirmed and .... changed colour.

Well that was it. That completely did for us. We were in screaming hysterics and had to sit down, but my knees gave way and I lay, shrieking with laughter, on my back in the grass. How we survived that, I'll never know.

When we were once again able to walk, we returned back to the yard where we toasted Jake's long life in champagne and ate strawberry tarts. Forgetting to wash our hands first. Never has a horse travelled so far in so short a time.
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 17:50, Reply)
......
it was terrible everyone was crying
and saying how much they missed him.
the coffin was lowered in to the dark
hole the lid slammed down. the service
was beautiful and as the background music faded i put my hand to the left
and flushed

i'll always remember the day we lost bubbles
the goldfish
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 17:49, Reply)
My great-gran
It was her funeral back in 1993.

It was all going smoothly. However, upon hearing my great-gran was going to be burned in a big furnace my cousin (then eleven) piped up with 'What a waste of a coffin!'

Not everyone found it funny.

I did.
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 17:41, Reply)
We know Major Tom's a junkie...
The hearse that was carrying my grandad from the chapel of rest to the crematorium broke down, meaning that he actually was late for his own funeral!

How we all laughed; all that is except my nan, whose husband had just died.
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 17:40, Reply)
Star Wars
One of my friends from school died when we were around 17. Him being a bit of a star wars fan, he had previously requested for the theme tune to be played as the coffin was carried into the church.

The best part was when the vicar said "may the force be with you".

Nice one Dan. Classic
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 17:39, Reply)
small world
my uncle tells me all the time that when he dies
as his coffin is being lowered into the
ground he wants us to play the small
world theme from the disney ride.
purely to annoy us
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 17:27, Reply)
he's a she
me and my family missed the funeral of some distant relative
so we went back to this pub to show our faces.
i was talking to some people who were showing me pictures
of the deceased when i said
" i didn't know him very well he seemed like a nice man"
the people were just staring at me as though i'd pulled out a gun.
turns out he was actually a she. joe was short for josephine.
needless to say i don't go to those kinds of things anymore
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 17:18, Reply)
Funerals suck
I've been to a few, 2 grandads, a grandma and a younger sister of a friend who died in a fire (she was the one we think we contacted in the "dark side" QOTW) and though sad, they don't get the point across. I can't celebrate anybody's life while trying to hold back tears just sitting there, trying to console someone.

I heard someone somewhere suggest that instead of a minutes silence for rememberance, we should give one minutes rapturous applause. Personally I whole-heartedly agree.

So I've started planning my funeral now, I'm not sure what venue yet (definitely not a church, cremated before hand and then ashes buried on site in something that won't last long in the ground), but I want there to be no seats, I want a mosh pit at my funeral! Some of the song's I'm thinking of are Alter Mann by Rammstein, I think Sleep Now In The Fire by RATM is essential. I'd also probably want a band there, and no strangers reading a eulogy, just a film/slideshow of my life, I get buried a few metres in front of the stage, and then everyone gets drunk and mosh pit starts on top of me...that'll make 'em remember me!

No apologies for length, merely for size of ego.
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 17:15, Reply)
Mr Pink
A few months ago my parents, brothers and I went to my grandfather's funeral. We sat in a tea room in Jedburgh all wearing black jackets, white shirts, and black ties (except my mum).

I felt like I was in a bizarre re-enactment of Reservoir Dogs, and started calling my little brother 'Mr Pink'.
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 17:12, Reply)
Brush that out...
When my dad passed away, he had 2 wishes for his ashes.
Half was to be scattered on the goalmouth of Bathgate Thistle's football ground, the other half was to be scattered on the lawn of a farmhouse in Inverness where my brother had stayed while the new house weas being built.
Come the day of scattering, myself and older brother had the honours, which we did with much solemnity and tears in the eyes. Being summer, the grass on this particular bit of lawn was a tad on the long side, so the remains of pops kind of sat on the top.
Queue one of bro's cats walking out of the bushes and rolling around, covering herself in ash.
We kind of just looked at each other then fell about laughing and I am damn sure pops was laughing too.
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 17:07, Reply)
The missus' uncle is a priest....
He's told me some great stories (usually when he's had a few jars) about funerals he's conducted.

The vestry for his church isn't massive, so he will only allow one coffin to be left in the church over night... So he's had families actually fighting over who's stiff gets to stay in the church for the funeral next day.

He also told me a great one about perfoming a burial at sea. The weather was really rough, everyone was throwing up, and the coffin went in at the wrong time (and took the flag with it)

Lenght? girth? Beers drunk? Can't remember...
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 17:04, Reply)
I went to a wedding once.

(, Thu 11 May 2006, 16:50, Reply)
woo
another. Not so much funny, but f'ing cool!

Heard through the grapevine that one guy didn't have any speakers, no celebrants or nothing. The family walked in, sat down, and then the organist put a Jimmy Hendrix album on for the whole service.
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 16:49, Reply)
This hasn't actually happened to me
BUT

I work at a crematorium. We have approx 3000 services a year across two crems. I work at the bigger one.

We get all sorts of weird requests, but a few weeks ago someone had the birdy song played on exit.

Also, talking to a funeral director yeterday, she had a man in, wanting to play "Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead" for his mother's funeral. Somthing about not being accepted as a homosexual. No bitterness at all though it seems.

I'll be thinking of more now
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 16:43, Reply)
About 15 years ago my best mate died of cancer
She was only 28 and had left behind her husband and little daughter. She had been battling with cancer since she was 18 and seemed ok for a long while, but the last couple of years of her life were a slow and painful time. Her funeral was held at a crematorium near Bradford and several of us who got there early were milling about nervously outside while another funeral was going on. Cue my mate Liam, the thick twat,with this pearl; "What the fuck is that smell? I mean, it's like really burnt meat or something!"

Sigh
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 16:42, Reply)
Stella + funeral
When my Nan died, my mum lost it a bit. Really hit home hard. In the end I got some leave from college to help her out. So when the funeral day came, I drove to my mums and got changed, off we go to the Crem in Derby.

Well, me and my mum always thought that Nan had a few friends at the Womens Guild. Maybe a few would turn up and pay their last requests.

Nealry 350 people turned up. Most of them with tales of my Nan from yester-year about parties and dancing and drinking...

This was an absolute shocker, and to be honest it turned out to be great. Somehow, whilst in the Mamillan Hospice off her head on pain-killers, she had managed to get someone to put 1000 behind the bar for "family to remember her by".

I truely obliged, and to be honest everything went fuzzy.

The afternoon sherry and coffee turned into a competition of who knew Jessie worst/best story, and me, my mum and the rest of the family spent the afternoon drinking and laughing.

I now it sounds odd, but was the kind of thing we thought my Nan would have hated - drunken revelary!!

Oh, and my little sister, 4 at the time, got the Vicar with the question

"Will my Nan have wings?"
"Of course, everyone in heaven does" says Rev
"well, she couldn't drive when she was alive and I don't think shes got a license, so does God give her lessons??"
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 16:30, Reply)
Hells Angel funerals are cool!
My second cousin or something died last year,and he was a Hells Angel,so at the funeral,there were about 200 motorbikes behind the coffin,which was damn cool.

After the (humanist) service,we all went to the local pub. Watching my nan and other various elderly family members chatting to these big burly Hells Angels was pretty surreal,yet also heart warming and cool..
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 16:29, Reply)
buy one, get one free
a couple of years ago, the uncle of a good friend of mine passed away. i was invited to the funeral, but, what with it being in a provincial coutryside church and all, i decided to pass. with hindsight, that was a very poor decision indeed.

shortly after the funeral began, the priest introduced the first hymn, and the organist began to play. however, as the song went on, each verse was progressively slower than the last one, with the bereaved nervously glancing at one another as they had to adapt their singing to the organist's unpredictable tempo. finally, during the fourth verse, the organist stopped entirely, and slumped over his organ, producing a loud, off-key drone.

those who are familiar with organs will know that, unlike pianos, an organ will keep playing a note for as long as its held down. the drone continued.

the priest - who was also trained in first aid, etc - walked briskly to the back of the church (he refrained from running - this was a funeral after all), tried to see if the organist was ok, but he clearly wasn't. to make matters worse, he was a fat bastard, so no amount of heaving could lift him off the organ. needless to say, the emergency services were called.

what with this being a provincial english funeral, everyone was polite as possible, and kept looking forward - staring is awfully bad mannered. i can only imagine the looks on faces as people stared unflinchingly at the altar for fifteen minutes while waiting for the emergency services to arrive, with a dischordant organ droning in the background, only to later be added to by an ambulance siren, and the shouting of paramedics trying to perform CPR. as a final touch, the shrill whine of defibilators (if you've watched any hospital drama, you'll know the sound) was added to the cacophony, as they tried to resuscitate the organist for 20 minutes before declaring him dead.

the funeral was rescheduled.
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 16:11, Reply)
It was the funderal of my young neice and nephew's favourite great uncle...
(My brother-in-law's uncle).

It was their first funeral. Girl was about 12; boy 14.

After the service, we were in the packed church hall and I had to try and make awkward conversation with them... We mumbled a bit and I could see they were getting distressed, so I helpfully said "Do you want me to find your mum?" "yes", they said, tearfully, obviously upset at the death thing... "I'll find her," I said helpfully. "I think the's buried in the corner over there."

Doh!

I got my coat and left.
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 15:53, Reply)
A strange one
One of my strangest experiences so far was the funeral of my next-door neighbour when I was 17. He was a grandad, grew tomatoes in his back garden, was well liked by all the neighbours, you get the picture. The church was full, my mum and I sat in the second row right behind his wife and listened while the vicar spoke at length about his life, what a wonderful family man he was and how he'd be greatly missed. Not by me however as the dirty old bastard had seen fit to make my life hell by regularly touching me up etc between the ages of about six and 12, when he'd lost interest. Unfortunately due to the fact that no one but me knew this, and I was still living at home at the time, I had to go to the funeral.

I just remember it being the strangest mix of emotions - I couldn't decide if I was glad the bastard was dead or disappointed with myself that I'd never told anyone and let him get away with it, or angry that his suffering was over even though he'd left me with painfully low self esteem and various other issues that still affect me today (cheers mate). In the end I think I just sat there staring into the back of wifey's head and trying not to lose it. I made it, too, although there was a bit of a close moment when my mum leaned over, squeezed my hand and said 'it's a shame isn't it? At least he's had a good life.'

She still doesn't know to this day and that makes me feel sick with guilt.

That's not a very nice story is it, sorry. Back with kittens and happy trees soon.

Apologies for length and killing the mood a bit.
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 15:51, Reply)
At my uncle's funeral, a good two hundred people attended,
being that he was a popular man.

Much of the service was made up of his friends recalling various anecdotes of debauchery all with some degree of hilarity. The priest didn't look entirely impressed.

Then came the journey to cemetery. How do you get two hundred people from a church to a cemetery? Double-decker buses.

Upon the burial, we discovered that the planks of wood surrounding the grave had been spaced too narrowly, so the coffin wouldn't fit. This lead to various shouts of, "JACK, YOU FAT BASTARD," which caused almost all of us to collapse in fits of laughter.

It was a good send-off.
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 15:39, Reply)
my grandad was always at his best at funerals,
whenever we got to the graveside, he would always say, "ooh, I'm not feeling so well, perhaps you should leave me here".
wasn't so funny when he actually died though.
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 15:29, Reply)
Thwate, I remember that Hymn
'If I were a wiggly worm,Id thank you Lord, that I could squirm...'

We used to sing that in school assemblies at primary school. It was one of the favorites as it had hand actions which I still remember to this day. Funily enough, the verse you mentioned we never sang, just the chorus and 2 verses

'If I were a butterfly (link thumbs, make butterfly)
I'd thank you lord, for giving me wings.
And if I were a robin in a tree (make birds beak with hand)
I'd thank you lord that I could sing.
And if I were a fish in the sea (hands together to make a fish)
Id wiggle my tail and I'd giggle with glee
But I just thank you, Father, for making me me'

(chorus-jesus I havent thought of this song in years)

'Lord you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile (hand on heart, draw smile on face)
You gave me jesus, you gave me your child (point to sky, cradle arms)
But I just thank you, Father, for making me me'

I'll stop there...
Did the people at the service do the hand movements?

My best mate charlie wants Funky town played at her funeral and everyone must do the head slide dance, including those carrying her coffin.
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 15:24, Reply)
ahh funerals
Worryingly I seem to go to quite a few funerals but I must confess family ones are the best.

take one dead aunt... I collapse at the graveside and then awake to muttered giggles and muted laughter and my uncle sniggering ' you want to join her' I also has to sit on the grass with my head between my legs as everyone else carried on their mourning. the sight!

Then my grandads wake was just fabby, a lovely day, abba (purely to annoy the old dears) and trampolining, although I wasnt aloud to go on the trampoline as I'd had too much cherry coke and was told 'thers nae mair room in the grave fur you tae bide' ahh families!
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 15:22, Reply)
As a sidenote...
I lost a bet with my very camp best mate and as a consequence my funeral will be THE funniest thing ever.

Yep - my forfeit was that I had to have Steps' mastermind hit "Better Best Forgotten" as my dirty dead body gets either burned or buried. As an optional extra I can also have "I Will Survive".
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 15:16, Reply)
Foot in mouth...
Earlier this year me and the missus travelled down to Birmingham for my Gran's dead husband's funeral - all the way down we could smell something vile in the car. Probably a misplaced McDonalds or some dog vomit hidden under the seat.

Finally get there and my Gran's upset but doing that old woman thing of fussing all over the place and treating me like I was 5.

Anyway, we're organising lifts to get everyone to the crematorium when I'm asked if it's ok to go in my car. "Yeah, no problem." I exclaim to the dead guy's brother and sister. "But I'll warn you now it smells like something's died in there!"

Took me about a minute to realise what I had just said and why my Gran and everyone else in the room was in tears.
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 15:15, Reply)
Catholic
What's all this 'Oh it was catholic, so it was like really sombre and rubbish and stuff'?!

My mates was a catholic funeral, and it was really moving, very emotional (we all stifled a few laughs a few times, and burst out laughing at others) and there was no 'Yey shal burn in hell!'

But then, the priest doing the service was actually his Company Chaplain, and not the old paddy that usually runs the show...
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 15:13, Reply)
I actually quite enjoyed my parents' funeral.
Or at least, I intend to.
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 14:59, Reply)
Meeting the family
My wonderful grandfather (mothers side) died 8 years ago when I was 13, still can't believe he's gone. He had just won a table tennis match against the police's team at the sport centre he worked at, told his friend who was having another game 'you know what to do dont you?' and fell asleep, never waking up.

Never met my other grandad, he died the day my mum discovered she was pregnent with me.

Anyways, after a very emotional cremation (mum was very distraught and my sister was angry and upset the fact I wasnt crying enough), the sandwiches afterwards gave me the opportunity to meet some very distant family members. A very old couple came up to me and asked if I was me.

Old bloke-'You threw up on me at your chistening'
Me-'Um, sorry'
(, Thu 11 May 2006, 14:58, Reply)

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