Friday, April 13, 2012

OF FAREWELLS AND FUNERALS

Today, I saw a quote put up by a friend on face book which said “Don’t come and visit me when I am gone.  I waited so long for you when I was alive” This line sort of sums up the complete hypocrisy of the human existence when it comes to a farewell!

I can quote  so many instances where a certain old person waits and waits for his/ her children to come and visit them. Often there is not even a phone call and then when the news of the parent passing away comes ,they all rush to be there at the funeral. I recall the funeral of a close relative in 2010 when people who never even called when she was alive made sure they were there with flowers and ensured that their wreaths with their names written on it were placed on the grave before the coffin was lowered! For many, funerals are social occasions especially when the person passing away is an elderly man or woman. This is the occasion for them to meet with other relatives and “catch up” on family gossip.  For some others there is an urgency to be there just so that they are not “cheated out” of any legacy –property, jewelry or bank accounts.
The same logic can be extended to farewell parties that we give colleagues who are leaving an organization. I am always amazed at the lies that people speak when they are present at these occasions. At a recent event like this I was surprised to see the way some people waxed eloquent about a colleague who was leaving. Many of these people had been very rude to her while she was there and the work environment for her had been rather unpleasant. I wondered where they were hiding these feelings while she was still working with us? Had they expressed even a fraction of what they were saying at the farewell, she would left with happier memories or probably not left at all…

When I discussed this with some friends their reaction was “Well you cannot actually say how you disliked a person”. I agree because I had been at another farewell function where a person who was disliked by all was leaving and a very outspoken colleague actually spoke some rather negative things about this person in her presence ( while many others lied as usual saying all the wonderful things expected)
Funerals and farewells are occasions where we come together to bid someone goodbye. So it is about the person leaving. I agree that we may not have always had wonderful experiences with all but why do we want to say nice things? I think it is to appease one’s own conscience..! Why do we want to say that we loved a person when we actually did not? We can just keep quiet or wish the person all the best ..I guess it about ourselves- we want to come across as persons who are nice. So you have people sobbing at funerals !

There was this hilarious experience at a relative’s funeral in 2010 when one of the “mourners” had bought herself a beautiful white dress especially for the occasion and had Gucci sunglasses covering her lovely face. “ She wanted to look the part of a distraught daughter without her make up getting smudged ” said my husband later on with a grin!  I am sorry but I am unable to see the humor of the situation
I sometimes wonder how my funeral would be like.. I sincerely hope that it is devoid of these hypocrisies . I would like maybe a handful of people who really loved me to be there. Even if they cannot be there it is okay because I know there would have been some genuine reason why they may not have been there. And about a farewell party if I leave my job- I definitely do not want one! The colleagues who became friends will always remain so and the rest.. well I don’t want them to say nice things about me just so they feel they have done their bit for the samosas and snacks that are served at these occasions!!! After all this is not about little Tommy Tucker who had to sing for his supper…




19 comments:

KParthasarathi said...

"I would rather have one rose and a kind word from a friend while I am here, than a whole truck load when I am gone."We often fail to visit relatives and friends and one day when they have departed we feel bad.I have been guilty of this lapse in many cases.Attending a funeral is viewed as a socially mandatory and absence on such occasions more than on happy occasions is marked as a dereliction.There is therefore some hypocrisy on these visits.

Farewell is a different ball game.If the retiree or departee is a friendly guy,people understandably tend to indulge in hyperboles giving him/her a happy feeling.One can exaggerate a small virtue but not magnify a missing one.Tell the truth,tell the pleasant but never tell the unplesant if true or the pleasant if untrue.This should serve as a guideline by and large.

--

Jyothi said...

I loved the last line. This has really irritated you. And it's totally understandable. I guess keeping up pretences is a way of life. It's not going to change in anyway either. Sad.

Jack said...

Meera,

You have brought out two aspects. I agree that there is a lot of show off at funerals and related ceremonies. One has to go for these in case it is of parents as it is socially expected but how does one show so much of grief if he or she has not been keeping in touch with them without any valid reason? I have told our son that there should be no unnecessary ceremonies. I have told that apart from eyes all other usable organs also should be donated. I do not wish any RONA DHONA. Now coming to farewells, one can be very brief by saying something neutral.

Take care

Disha said...

I am now scared to invite you to my both my farewell and funeral...

RN said...

Very scared now to invite you to my farewell and funeral..

Christopher said...

Agree with you totally on the hypocrisy part. One common feeling I've had at almost every farewell was a sense of a lost opportunity - of not having spent more time getting to know more, learn more, exchange more ideas etc.

Your characters are so thinly disguised that I could figure out each one of them. I disagree with you on the "person who was disliked by all" but that is digressing from the theme of your blogpost.

The shortest and the most meaningful farewell speech I ever heard was by the late S.K. Kapoor, who was my supervisor in CARE, on the occasion of one of our senior colleagues going away on transfer. The transferred person was one of the most unpleasant and disliked persons I ever came across. Here is the verbatim reproduction of that speech (only the name is changed to protect privacy).

We all know Mr. J is going away on transfer to West Bengal. I wish Mr. J the best. I wish the people of West Bengal all the best.

Cloud Nine said...

Beautifully written, Meera. Funerals these days are 'family get togethers' with funny people dressed in funnier attire. LOL at your Gucci relative:P As for farewells, we say something nice because we wish to hear the same niceties about us when we leave;)

simply mee said...

Yes! it annoys me also! esp wonderful things said about a deceased! Why wasn't he/she told when alive huh? Loneliness is one of the silent killers of elders.

I see the humour in your hubby's comment...gucci glasses?..oh really?

Farewells?...keep it simple and brief!

Meera Sundararajan said...

@ Simply mee and Cloud nine- yes the Gucci lady was indeed funny- I think I should dedicate an entire post to her afterall she is the family " DIVA" :)

@ RN please don't speak about your funeral though if it is a farewell, I can understand

@ CV you are lucky guy- you had got the opportunity to work with some of the best supervisors. My score is 2/ 4 !!

Gayu said...

Very true Meera...I've been through both the situations. I never shared a loving relation with my Mom, even she never talked to me...and when she passed away...I didn't cry...it was but natural cos I was not at all attached to her...but there were aunties who used to gossip about my mom...n when they came to give d final visit they cried so much...as if...she was her mom.

The best part here is they never bothered to visit us...especially me...as I was only 8 when I lost my mom. All their love n tears was just show off...!!!!

Farewell again...I know how it is....in my previous organization....there were people who never talked to me..or even smiled at me...but during my farewell party they came...n sobbed...n said they would miss me...n blah blah...!!!!

Fake world it is out there....Meera somewhere u brought those old memories of mom...it is 20 years now she passed away....but still it hurts....not because I love her...but because I never got a chance to ask her..."why she didn't love me"

anilkurup said...

I agree with you completely. The depth of hypocrisy is shown most at social gatherings- funerals, weddings.

Eulogies are disgusting as they are just icing to cover sheer hypocrisy.

I did write once on the silliness of these great talks and eulogies.

Be it weddings or funerals they have to be solemn and not sabotaged by acts and words that are nothing but false and pretentious..

Rupertt Wind said...

That is so true Meera, We all stand up with a mike and say all the sweet things there are to say and in the heart we are just happy to get rid of him/her. Its such a pity that we like in a world of such hypocrisy. But I sometimes think that it what people crave for, No body wants to be bashed and disgraced at the last day with someone. I think they crave unknowingly for these lies so they could live in a fallacy that they were quintessential.

Meera Sundararajan said...

@ Gayu, losing one's parent at the age of eight is a really sad thing. I am glad that you have pulled through life despite all that!! About your mother not loving you, I think it may have been a matter of your perception - at such a young age we have an imperfect view of this world.

@ Anil, great minds think alike :P

@ Rupert wind, welcome to my blog. Hope to see you here more often

'Lara said...

At least at funeral, people do not get to lie to your face...it is so sad when people have to pretend at farewells,lie to the person's face... like you I find it disgusting

Rahul Bhatia said...

Farewell and Deaths a re solemn occasions and their sanctity need to be maintained! In war even the adversary's dead body is saluted!FB/Twitter and other media have made everything an extension of gossip

Rupertt Wind said...

Oh yes I will be here a lot don't worry buddy! Hey that rhymes! :P

just one thing could you put the subscribe by email widget and let me know so that I would know when you post!

Rhapsody B. said...

Namaste.....
To my way of thinking they shouldn't show up at all and if they are obligated to then they should have the presence of mind to as you say, keep quiet.

I to have noted theis hyprocrisy for years, most recent (in terms of funeral attendance) but not so recent (in terms of memory, my friend died about 8 years ago. Her mother was never a source of encouragement or comfort, she struggled with health issues but at her funeral, this woman (her mother) was crying loudly, throwing herself on the chruch floor and whining loudly. I was so angry I wanted to just get up and slap her. This is the same woman that could not assist her daughter when she was hospitalized and her oldest child was having an epilepsy attack, she had to try and prevent her from falling and smashing her head on the ground with all the iv sticking out of her arm, straining while the mother stood there doing nothing, not even trying to help. Ha! I agree, don't come to wax about how great you think I was when you treated me like shit on a sidewalk.

Have a good day.
Rhapsody
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Meera Sundararajan said...

@ Rhapsody I completely agree with you about the hypocrisy- I have myself wanted to slap some of the "mourners" at some funerals. Have a good week!

specs buffy said...

yes Meera, I have seen it all , the crocodile tears, the Ralph Lauren perfume, the glossy lipstick, the greed for inheritance , the melodrama....all happening at the death of a near one
and these things too happen- people ring up to complain that they were never informed about the passing away....
@ christopher - liked about the verbatim :)
well thought out piece- you deserve a standing ovation! !!

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