The proper etiquette while enduring a false eulogy? Hold one’s tongue.
I do not know what made me recall this memory late last night. But, there is a lesson here somewhere. We share it with you now.
Back in 2004 or 2005, I came across an article somewhere on the Internet that told of dissenters interrupting eulogies at memorial services. This, the article conveyed, is not so rare as one may think. With a more outspoken younger generation, this was occurring in more than a few instances.
The specific example given was of a not so young man ( a son or son-in-law of the deceased) who stood up during a rather glowing eulogy, that obviously appeared to him as false and thus offensive, and loudly said to the assembled family members and friends: “Let’s stop fooling ourselves. The deceased was a real bastard.”
The eulogist stopped speaking and the presiding minister quickly finished the service.
Printing this article out, I took it with me the next time I drove the 240 miles for a visit to my aged parents. Later, after reading the article, my mother informed me during a phone call that she and my father were going to leave instructions that they not be eulogized when they had passed on. Chuckling to myself when I heard this, I mused that in their respective cases this was likely a prudent (wise) decision.
Of course, one lesson to consider here is: How do you think you will be remembered? (A valid question for both believers in God (and in an afterlife), and for those who consciously choose not to believe, the atheists.) Do you care? If you have not been the easiest person to get on with – you can always make the effort to change how you interact with others. You could begin that effort right now.
But, this article leads one to other questions.
Why do we lionize people in death? If they were not heroes or heroines in life, not so virtuous or charitable to others, why do we feel the need to act and speak as if they had been once they are dead?
Would it perhaps be better not to eulogize such persons (at a wake, a memorial service or a funeral)? These persons that always remarked on the speck in others’ eyes – all the while ignoring the plank in their own (from the New Testament).
As well, what of the mourners at such services? Yes, there are those that are shedding tears of grief and bereavement. (During the Middle Ages in parts of Europe, there were professional mourners, paid to attend funerals and wail with affected sorrow and grief.) But, some are shedding tears of guilt. This is the other side of the coin. What will you think of your own actions when you bury your parents, or your spouse, or other relatives and friends? Were you as loving and supportive as you could have been? Regret and remorse and guilt are terrible to endure. (I know this from painful personal experience.) Assess your behavior now, and, if needed, make the effort to change for the better.
Since we are commanded to love, we will be judged on whether we loved or not. It seems to me that most, if not all, of the sins of commission stem from the biggest sin of omission, that of failing to love God and His children. That is why there are passages in the New Testament where it is said (paraphrasing from memory now) “Love, and do as you will.”
Thanks for reading and best wishes to all.