Funerals are irrational

darth_josh
High Level DonorHigh Level ModeratorGold Member
darth_josh's picture
Posts: 2642
Joined: 2006-02-27
User is offlineOffline
Funerals are irrational

Funeral Diatribe
(or: How to lose all of your friends by being brutally honest)

by: darth_josh

There is a very good chance that I am about to piss you off to a degree which you have not experienced or even imagined. I apologize, dear reader. However, it must still be written in my opinion.

I wish to submit for examination the irrational precept of funerals or other rituals of death.

I will first examine the concept of a funeral or death ritual in terms that I believe are intersubjectively true. A funeral is a posthumous gathering of one's still-living friends and relatives for the purpose of honoring your life, allocating time for mourning your loss, and/or following cultural tradition. The most often heard answer to: "What is a funeral?" is that one's friends and relatives need the solace of saying "goodbye" to your now rotting corpse. At some point in our evolutionary development, human kindred or kine discovered that declaring their sadness over the death of a family member or close friend made them feel more comfortable with the loss of the individual. We have them to thank for this garish tradition.

There is no question in my mind that funerals began shortly after complex thoughts arose in the minds of early humanity. Often the more gruesome the form of death the more elegant the ceremony honoring the dead person became. More often than even that, the particulars of the dead individual exponentially increased the amount of grief shown at a funeral ceremony. Children, leaders, and the well loved garner the most attention to their proverbial departure rituals. Ask an elder where they were when Kennedy was shot, or when Elvis' death was announced. Ask me where I was when Princess Diana's limo hit and crumpled. Ask any of us where we were when people were dying at 'Ground Zero' in 2001. Certainly, in those instances we can examine our own feelings at the time and realize that we were primarily reminded of our own mortality. Thus, our minds wander quickly but ably over the literal rush of emotions, thoughts, and considerations associated with the individual, including a cursory examination of the effects of the individual's demise. i.e. those individuals 'left behind' who possibly relied upon the now dead person for their own survival and prosperity. None of which means a damned thing to the now dearly departed.

Unfortunately, psychological studies concerning grief management have shown that a funeral has helped the mental states of one’s surviving relatives, friends, and others. As such studies indicate (google them yourselves), postmortem adjudicating the worth of the death gives closure to the deceased friends and family. Many sentimental quotes have arisen in the posthumous examinations of individuals throughout history.

Humanity seems intent upon remembering your life, but only after you are dead and can no longer prove our eulogies to be undeserved. Until some asshole does a little too much research. Many ‘great’ men and women have been brought down to the common human level by historians, archeologists, and text experts. A personal thank you to these detective/scholars is not only warranted, but required. They have offered the rest of us a means of justifying our skepticism during the reading of the lavishly hyperbolized accounts of our meager existences.

A recent article by Christopher Hitchens details his feelings concerning the death of a soldier in Iraq by an IED (Vanity Fair Nov 2007). Hitchens felt that his words were the impetus for the young man to volunteer his service in ‘defense’ of his country. Certainly, one could say that was the case. However, the young man had given thought to his own mortality and weighed it against the optimum benefits of the risk. This man had left instructions to spread his ashes out at an Oregon beach considered special to his family. I completely understand the need that this family had for closure, but I cannot rationally justify it based upon the expense incurred and inconvenience cumbered by those charged with transport and care of the corpse. Was it really necessary to do all this in order for people to remember who this young man was and what he did? Was the fact that he died in service to his country inadequate for these ‘patriots’ psychological need for closure?

Likewise psychologically motivated also are the actions of the WBC (Westboro Baptist Church). Once the primary objection to the WBC was their protestation of soldier’s funerals. This was done under the guise of giving us the message of holy retribution from a ‘fag-hating’ god allegedly killing our children for our sins of tolerance. Countless people turned out to protest the protestors. Inevitably, many forgot the names of the dead persons in favor of remembering that the WBC was in attendance. I went to one such funeral for a girl named Nicole Ford. She was not in the armed forces, but nevertheless a soldier in her own right. The WBC reason given for protesting her funeral was that she was “a little ho” for having a child out of wedlock. Strangely enough, I have decided that I will not be among those protesting the funeral of Shirley Phelps-Roper for the very same reason (i.e. illegitimate childbearing) when the world is rid of her. Simply because the world can’t stand THAT much hypocrisy without short-circuiting itself. Let her die. I will not waste gas and food money just for my own peace of mind that her family would have to go through my screams of: “Enjoy oblivion you witless twat”, “Where’s your god now?” and/or “science shouldn’t save the wicked” etc.(I have more, but I feel the point has been made.)

Throughout recorded history, both ancient and modern, we can see evidence of our propensity for funerary obnoxiousness; polite and rude. I watched tv as the ‘faithful’ played a game of Palestinian rugby with the corpse of Yassir Arafat. More recently, the push-and-shoot-while-shoving funeral of Benazir Bhutto resembled a game of ambulance polo. Both these reels of video footage are forever burned into my mind and add yet another catalyst to the reaction I have toward any funeral ceremony. While not the ‘rule’, these are some gruesome exceptions worthy of examination in my opinion.

Likewise, we have literally thousands of examples of the converse of those instances. The pyramids, while amazing to view even in pictures, were merely ostentatious tombs for ancient dictators. An entire valley in Egypt is dedicated to long dead kings. This place is still revered today. The corpses of the Pharaohs so ensconced were treated with the utmost respect during the mummification process. Including the use of a single individual to make the incision needed to remove the internal organs for placement into canopic jars for ‘eternal’ preservation. The dead ruler was buried with not only his/her favorite possessions, but also his/her favorite servants whether they were ready or not.

Burial mounds filled with dead Native Americans that mimic small hills dot the North American landscape. Seemingly these are discovered every other time the land is disturbed for urban development. Two years ago, a major downtown development was halted upon discovering that it was an inhumation locale for not one, but three tribes of Native Americans. It has since sat idle leaving the city council in a quandary much to the amusement of the initial opponents of the development. How odd? This is seemingly unethical behavior on both sides given the societal mores in place concerning respect for the dead.

While the aforementioned burial ground occupies perhaps two acres of land, entire vast fields are allotted for burial grounds such as: Arlington National Cemetery, the Normandy D-Day beachheads, and many others. Even the British Isles boast their graves and tombs for various and sundry dead ‘celebrities’ of modern and medieval times. Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris has been visited by millions of fans of ‘The Doors’. Fans leave little items or graffiti in offering to the dead icon. John Lennon’s memorial in Central Park, New York City is treated with the same reverence due a rock ‘n roll icon.

Elvis’ mansion is an entire location dedicated to the ‘king’ including the toilet he was allegedly found dead upon. Fans, haters, and profiteers descended upon Memphis after it was discovered that there was memorabilia to buy, sell, or steal. Truly, have they no respect for the dead? Lol. Hint for the non-Tennesseans: Do not go to Graceland in August. The ‘filth’ is difficult to wash off and you’ll feel dirty even afterward. Redneck tears contain either copious amounts of beer or mascara.

Iconic ‘resting’ places are worshipped by the modern idolaters in society, but we also venerate our lost ‘heroes’. The tombs of famous leaders long dead are awarded special placement in their respective places. Lenin in Red Square, Marx in London, Mao Tse-Tung in Tiananmen Square, Grant where and when? It took nearly twelve years for U.S. Grant to be ensconced in his tomb in Manhattan’s Riverside Park. Prior to that, his body was bounced around hither and yon with much ado for 16 days before being placed in a temporary grave. Abraham Lincoln’s casket and corpse went on a circuitous rail-trip through the state of New York before making its way to Springfield, Illinois. It took 19 days for Mr. Lincoln to go from the deathbed to the grave. Special flyers detailing the train’s stops were circulated throughout the Midwest in newspapers and bulletins. Allegedly 300 mourners rode the train along with the coffins of Lincoln and his son who had been disinterred to be reburied with his father. Many other presidents were accorded similar treatments. I included these two examples because my civil war folder was easily accessible. If needed to further accentuate this point, I can offer my service to research other president’s equally ridiculous pre- and post- mortuary rituals.

Among even greater leaders, Alexander the Great’s tomb has been a subject of curiosity for centuries after having disappeared around the time of Theodosius, the pagan hater. It is alleged that Octavian visited Alexander’s tomb and ignored those of the Ptolemies. He stated: “My wish was to see a King, not corpses.” The idea that Alexander accomplished a great deal in his short life seems to degrade the endeavors of the Ptolemaic dynasty even now. I wonder how many of my contemporaries could name more than two. Yet I do not honor their graves, nor do I Alexander’s. I’m much more interested in their lives and what they said and accomplished rather than where they were buried. According to the catholic church, Alexander’s ‘soul’ would probably be in ‘hell’, too tortured to worry whether or not people could place crowns or flowers on his corpse. Likewise, dead is dead to most of us. He can’t care or even know that his cadaver is lost to the world.

Here is where we step off the deep end into mental suspension. The christian idol, jesus, was allegedly entombed only to resurrect three days later. His supposed death, entombment, and subsequent resurrection are the subject of the last few chapters of each of the gospels (Thanks to the addition of Mark 16:9-20) and the apostle Paul’s entire repertoire. Suspending my disbelief for a moment, I recall that this jesus told a disciple to “let the dead bury the dead” which is one piece of the alleged christ’s doctrine with which I can wholeheartedly agree. Yet still the christians pay more homage through symbolism to the method of their alleged savior’s demise than they do to his life’s words and works. Even the cute little fish symbol placed appropriately on the rear of vehicles has its roots in persecution of the adherents rather than the person worshipped. The catholics put the whole (pardon the pun) bloody scene around their necks for display while the more moderate followers just put the cross. Of course, all of that ignores the very fact that christian doctrine preaches the ‘soul’ and not the body as the important facet of life and death. Why didn’t Paul/Saul take care of this unchecked distortion of pneumatic worship?

Suffice it to say that the muslims still have their prophet’s body in Medina safe from the western defilers. It is revered as the second holiest mosque in all of islam and Medina the second holiest city. One wonders if they had to play a game of ‘smear the prophet’ in order to get this ‘prize of a human being’ under the stones of that mosque. Truly, if I thought it would make a difference then I would advocate helping the city of Medina live up to it’s translation of ‘the glowing city’. We could do so under the guise of turning the prophet’s final resting place into a field of beaded glass. Unfortunately, I sincerely doubt that even the modern day caliph (whomever and wherever he is) would give a scorpion’s shit worth of care even if the prophet’s head faced away from Mecca.

Let us now ask the unanswered question of ourselves. Does any of the pomp and circumstance matter to the dead? The answer is wholly subjective to us as living beings. Some of us want a big funeral with lots of friends and family to 'say goodbye' to us. Some of us would be happy with cremation and our ashes spread over something significant to our lives. I ask you: What difference does it make? You're DEAD. Regardless of your ideological views concerning posthumous experiences or the lack thereof, one should be able to see the underlying inanity of an earthly remembrance ceremony for 'us'. For instance, I am an atheist that believes that death is death. No brain function means no life in my personal viewpoint. Being such an individual means to me that whatever you want to do with my carcass is fine by me. I won't know or care what anyone does with my body.

Likewise, a christian with an afterlife belief has no reason whatsoever to concern themselves with the trivial happenings to their 'earthly' body. After all, they are allegedly heading to a 'better place' right? Conversely, if they're headed for their hell then isn't the alleged torture inflicted upon the 'soul' and more arduous than mortal bodies can imagine? Muslims are promised a paradise or a hell as well. As much of a paradise that 72 clear raisins can be at least. I think it is plain to see that a funeral FOR the deceased serves the deceased adherents of those ideologies no real purpose at all.

There are religions that require the individual be interred with all of their body parts intact or preserved according to traditional practices. However, the gala funerary ritual such as a k'vad homet (sp?) specifically performed by a chevra kaddisha in Judaism. I suppose it is important to note that there is much more to a jewish funeral and subsequent mourning than I care to expound upon here. Of all the various faiths in the world, these people will be the hardest to try to convince that funerals are the most obtuse tradition that we still practice.

Of the major expenses associated with your life, a funeral is typically in the top five. Upwards of $10,000 US will be spent to bury you at a minimum. Estimates of cremation expenses are varied from $600 to $2,000 US. Donation of one’s body to science can even cost money for transport of the cadaver. Many families have more trouble paying just the funeral bill after the death of a loved one let alone any debts incurred by them while alive.

Although the utilization of dead bodies in research is one of the better uses in my opinion, it can still cost a great deal of money since there are guards paid to baby-sit the dead. This cost is passed onto the taxpayers, labs, and ultimately the students of the research facilities. The Tennessee ‘Body Farm’ (officially Forensic Anthropology Research Facility), ran by the University of Tennessee and a man named Bill Bass, have recently asked for more land on which to research cadaver physiology or taphonomy. More land, more security, and more bodies to leave out in the southern sun to rot away and be measured. This research is used by forensic pathologists throughout the world to determine everything associated with death and dying. Admirable work it is. However, extra expenses occur in order to treat the dead bodies with ‘reverence’. Funerals conducted for the bodies no longer suitable for study at the ‘Body Farm’ are conducted at the expense of the program. Meanwhile, future forensic scientists must pay increasingly higher tuition costs for the classes.

Essentially, the only limit to the amount of money made from the dead is the number of dead people available. Strangely, there is no shortage of ‘disposable’ income for the morticians. Nor is there a shortage of funds available to the newspapers, which use the dead to attract readers to the obituary section. Funeral homes spend thousands of dollars in advertising with newspapers, radio, television, and internet media outlets every week. Newspapers often feature ‘free’ obituaries. Typically, there are charges for a photo or additional words to go along with the obituary. Local radio stations feature the reading of obituaries during their morning broadcasts. There are vast amounts of money to be made in the business of advertising the handling of the dead.

Consistently, newer ideas for the preservation of corpses are tried by the rich. This includes such things as hermetically sealed coffins, cryogenic chambers, and even just the freezing of one’s cadaverous stem cells for future ‘recycling’ in the hope that some piece of the pre-death ‘consciousness’ will remain encoded in the genetic material. These are the high-dollar options of the uber-rich and self-important who adhere to the advice of usurious counselors preying upon the innate human fear of mortality.

Coupled with them are the criminals engaged in life insurance gambling. When one purchases life insurance, it is normally thought that money will be 100% for your family’s well-being once you begin rotting. However, after estate taxes, burial fees, lawyer fees, and debts they are looking at chump-change compared to what you were bringing into the home. I’m sad to say it, but betting your going to die doesn’t seem to be a good gamble after all. Nearly the only place a person can receive even fake assurance that the money spent on life insurance is worthwhile is by paid actors on the commercials advertising the companies willing to bet that you won’t die until they get a profit. Quite often we watch documentaries of murders occurring for the express purpose of collecting said life insurance money from the demise of a spouse or elder.

What does $10,000 US buy in the way of funeral accoutrements? A casket often handmade by crafters with finely painted walls, sealing hinges, finely threaded linen cushions for your dead ass to lay upon in your ‘eternal slumber’, and expensive bars for people to carry your carcass to the cemetery. Also included in the price is: a makeover to try to help you look less dead, a hole in the ground, a headstone marking, a ride in a hearse, and a party attended by people both loved and loathed. Does this sound like a bargain? Nevermind, I forgot you were dead and incapable of voicing your opinion about such matters.

Today in a small city south of Nashville, eight people died. Five of old age, two of cancer, and one in an auto accident. Approximately $80,000 US goes to the three funeral homes mentioned in the obituaries of the deceased. Tomorrow will be comparable. I have found that eight is the median number of funerals per day in this town with a population of approximately 34,000. Those 34,000 people, with roughly 50% of them below the poverty line indexed by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, are typically saddened by the loss of life occurring. However, they are woefully not equipped to understand that the money being spent to inter their dead ‘neighbors’ could possibly have much grander uses.

Charged with many glorious glittering generalities, the government seems to have faltered in keeping its promises made in the preamble of the Constitution.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
‘promote the general Welfare’ has an interesting ‘ring’ to it, doesn’t it? I watch as sickly little men and women work in their jobs; happy to be alive, but unhealthy due to a lack of money for ‘doctoring’. I watch as they go through the motions of life seemingly without really living to the bourgeois eye. Of course, there are occasional acts of contrition made by the wealthy in control of the purse-strings of the government. But honestly, can we really say that enough is being done? Of course not.

Let me ask you to suspend your grasp upon ‘what is’ and entertain a thought of ‘what should be’ for just a moment. We have already examined that roughly $80,000 per day in a small city are spent needlessly in an attempt to reconcile our grief over the loss of loved ones. Certainly a fleeting feeling once the realization that they are gone ‘hits’ us. What if we were to channel those funds into the preservation of life? What if we used just enough money to bury ol’ Clem in a cheap box somewhere in a field away from the planning commission’s next development project? How about if we use just enough fuel to turn him into ashes and put him into a Tupperware container? Where oh Where would we most like to spend the money, time, and effort that we are saving by ‘streamlining’ the process of disposing of the dead? I have an idea or two.

Stem cell research, which has been poorly funded by the Bush administration, could be fully-funded if we suspend indefinitely our present funerary customs in favor of more efficient corpse disposal.

Universal health care, long a dream of the American working class, could become reality in weeks after we discontinue inhumation obnoxiousness.

Morticians in their quest for the ultimate means of preserving dead tissue could still apply their trade in the form of pre-death medicinal pursuits.

Education could receive additional funding.

Many funding reallocation efforts at once could be pursued, but chiefly among all of these is: ‘promoting the general Welfare’ through ridding ourselves of these ludicrous expenditures ingrained in our traditions by our ancestors and the religious. By doing so, we allow ourselves to pursue living endeavors including our own desires. How much money would you have now if not for the recent death of a loved one? How much more money would line the pockets of your beneficiaries after your demise?

I submit to you that not only are funerary rituals unnecessary, but also harmful to society as a whole. As such, I propose the precept of funerals to be an irrational one worthy of ethical evaluation regarding their continuation as a practice due to their detrimental effects upon the progression of humanity as a whole.

Thank you,

darth_josh

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists.


Visual_Paradox
atheistRational VIP!Special Agent
Visual_Paradox's picture
Posts: 481
Joined: 2007-04-07
User is offlineOffline
I agree. Paying thousands of

I agree. Paying thousands of dollars, or passing that bill onto the next generation, to have your corpse lay on a soft pillow in a box is absurd.

Stultior stulto fuisti, qui tabellis crederes!


Girl Dancing In...
Girl Dancing In Orbit's picture
Posts: 294
Joined: 2007-12-27
User is offlineOffline
Whatever you say or do or

Whatever you say or do or want. People will always gather in a way or another after the death of a loved one and you are, of course, well aware of that.

Ceremonial burials have been recorded since the Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens have followed in their footstep (so to speak). Does that suggest a evolutionary purpose for this kind of behavior ? Probably and the same goes for religion but it doesn't make it rational or does it ?

Seems to me that "religion" started out as a rational desire to understand the world but as evolved in this irrational concept because we just couldn't figure it out and have made out all kind of hilarious stories to fill the gaps in our understanding thus comforting us.

When a loved one dies, something in us freaks out and we loose our rationality. That's why you ear irrational comments such as : "Why her ? Why did she have to go ?" and so on...

I suspect that gathering in a common place so that we can all talk about the dead and freak out at the same time is the way that nature found for us to deal with this kind of irrational behavior so that we can return to sanity quicker.

But since religion have heavily influenced funerals it probably fuels the irrational behavior even more behind the ceremony and that is probably why people will spent ridiculous amount of money for is own funeral or the funeral of someone else.

I think that funerals are a necessary and instinctive behavior that helps us deal with our "irrational moments" of grief.

So I don't think that a funeral is, by itself, irrational but I see it more like a tool that helps us overcome our irrationality.

 

 

Si Dieu existe, c'est Son problème !
If God exists, it's His problem !--Graffiti on the walls of the Sorbonne (France), May 1968
romancedlife.blogspot.com


Hambydammit
High Level DonorModeratorRRS Core Member
Hambydammit's picture
Posts: 8657
Joined: 2006-10-22
User is offlineOffline
I take a middle ground on

I take a middle ground on this one.  I think expensive funerals are an abomination, and I'd just as soon see run of the mill carpenters making pine boxes for caskets, and I don't see any purpose in giving every damn person that dies a plot of land.

Having said that, I think a gathering to remember people is psychologically helpful, particularly if it focuses not on "where they are now" but how they impacted the lives of those around them.  One day, I'd love to see a funeral where the eulogy goes something like this:

"Jim Bob was a real son of a bitch.  He beat the crap out of his wife, couldn't keep a job, and drank like a fish.  In the end, the only thing he seemed capable of doing consistently was getting women (not necessarily his wife) pregnant.  He died of cirrosis, and not a minute too soon.  Maybe now, all the people who suffered because of him will have a chance to make something of their lives before they're dead, too."

Here's the thing.  If Jim Bob was really that awful, and everyone says good things about him at the service, there's no closure.  Nobody experiences catharsis.

The truth will set you free.

I imagine my own funeral being more like a party.  I only have two requests:  

1) Nobody fucking prays.  I mean it.

2) No eulogies.  Everybody sits in a circle and passes around a bottle of whiskey.  While you're holding the bottle, you get to say anything you want, good or bad, about me.  Everybody has to stay til the bottle's gone.

The rest of it can be a big old party with strippers and trapeze girls, for all I care.  That would be appropriate.

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
Books about atheism


Hambydammit
High Level DonorModeratorRRS Core Member
Hambydammit's picture
Posts: 8657
Joined: 2006-10-22
User is offlineOffline
Oh, I forgot... no holding

Oh, I forgot... no holding the bottle without drinking. If you've got the bottle, you damn well better take a swig every time you have to stop talking to breathe. No fucking sermons.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
Books about atheism


shelley
ModeratorRRS local affiliate
shelley's picture
Posts: 1859
Joined: 2006-12-26
User is offlineOffline
Girl Dancing In Orbit

Girl Dancing In Orbit wrote:

Ceremonial burials have been recorded since the Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens have followed in their footstep (so to speak). Does that suggest a evolutionary purpose for this kind of behavior ? Probably and the same goes for religion but it doesn't make it rational or does it ?

I'd have to disagree.  While I see the religious reasons for ceremonial burial, I don't think there is a specific evolutionary purpose for this but rather it may be a consequence of our perception of the value of life. 


Girl Dancing In...
Girl Dancing In Orbit's picture
Posts: 294
Joined: 2007-12-27
User is offlineOffline
shelleymtjoy wrote:

shelleymtjoy wrote:

I'd have to disagree. While I see the religious reasons for ceremonial burial, I don't think there is a specific evolutionary purpose for this but rather it may be a consequence of our perception of the value of life.

Well, while I don't know anything about evolution, the value we give to life seems to come directly from it. If we didn't value life we probably wouldn't be here anymore.

So would it be really wrong to say that our burial habits are, maybe not directly related to evolution, but at least remotely ?

We see this kind of behavior in every society, and in every epoch. It seems to me that it is instinctive and not directly related to religion even though religious belief influence greatly the way in which the ceremony will take place.

 

Si Dieu existe, c'est Son problème !
If God exists, it's His problem !--Graffiti on the walls of the Sorbonne (France), May 1968
romancedlife.blogspot.com


ProzacDeathWish
atheist
ProzacDeathWish's picture
Posts: 3500
Joined: 2007-12-02
User is offlineOffline
My death will be no big

My death will be no big deal. I am one person out of over six billion other humans. That massive number alone devalues my individual worth...doesn't matter to me, though.

Kind of like when an individual star explodes within a galaxy...interesting perhaps, but in light of the other trillion of stars that still exist, hardly significant.

As a person who suffers from suicidal tendencies ( ProzacDeathWish, get it? ) the loss of my life is just an event that is long overdue.

As far as funeral arrangements there will be none. No ceremonies, not even secular ones, will be enacted. My body will cremated and that's that. I have requested that there be no obituary notice. No ego trip from my end, I hated my fucking life from start to finish, why make a big deal about my passing ?

I even asked my girlfriend to take my ashes and flush them down the toilet to symbolize my utter disdain for the so-called "gift of life"

She refuses to agree with my request, but there's not much I can do about it is there ?

At any rate, anyone can see that I have made every effort to make my passing as subtle and insignificant as possible.

It wasn't like I was a fucking pharaoh or something.


mrjonno
Posts: 726
Joined: 2007-02-26
User is offlineOffline
Well you can get very cheap

Well you can get very cheap and ecological sound funerals these days.

 You can also get non-religious cerenomies , I know the British Humanist assocation does them.

 

I actually thought one of the reasons for having a funeral is for people to actual accept that the person is dead, people can be in denial until the funeral


ProzacDeathWish
atheist
ProzacDeathWish's picture
Posts: 3500
Joined: 2007-12-02
User is offlineOffline
mrjonno wrote: Well you

mrjonno wrote:

Well you can get very cheap and ecological sound funerals these days.

You can also get non-religious cerenomies , I know the British Humanist assocation does them.

 

I actually thought one of the reasons for having a funeral is for people to actual accept that the person is dead, people can be in denial until the funeral

I live in the US and there is a cremation service that refers to itself as The Neptune Society that offers extremely cheap body disposal.  


beliversrule
Theist
beliversrule's picture
Posts: 20
Joined: 2008-01-19
User is offlineOffline
The cost of funerals is way

The cost of funerals is way out of control but funerals themselves are for the living not the dead.  They help people to say goodbye to their loved ones and friends.  People can be hurt psychologically if they do not go through this process.  IT's just part of grief.  Some may not need this ritual but some do in order to make the death of the loved one more real in their own mind, it's the final goodbye for them while they are on this hellish earth.

 The dead themselves need no funeral for their own sake for they are safely in the hands of God. Smile

 

 

And we have no evidence whatsoever that the soul perishes with the body---------Mahatma Gandhi


Jolt
Jolt's picture
Posts: 69
Joined: 2007-06-07
User is offlineOffline
darth_josh

darth_josh wrote:
Unfortunately, psychological studies concerning grief management have shown that a funeral has helped the mental states of one’s surviving relatives, friends, and others. As such studies indicate (google them yourselves), postmortem adjudicating the worth of the death gives closure to the deceased friends and family. Many sentimental quotes have arisen in the posthumous examinations of individuals throughout history.

You seem to contradict your own statement. If there are obvious reasons why people have a funeral then how can it be considered irrational?

Ok, funerals might be economically irrational. A week in Tahiti would be much more 'healing' for me than any funeral I have been to. But no one can seriously believe that family members are going to dump grandpa in a ditch, snatch the dough and give it to charity.

darth_josh wrote:
I submit to you that not only are funerary rituals unnecessary, but also harmful to society as a whole. As such, I propose the precept of funerals to be an irrational one worthy of ethical evaluation regarding their continuation as a practice due to their detrimental effects upon the progression of humanity as a whole.

I read through your post once more and can't find any reason why a funeral could be harmful.

Readiness to answer all questions is the infallible sign of stupidity. Saul Bellow, Herzog


pariahjane
pariahjane's picture
Posts: 1595
Joined: 2006-05-06
User is offlineOffline
I always thought that the

I always thought that the reason burial became a tradition was because our ancestors were tired of their loved ones being picked off by carrion birds.

Funerals are for the living, not the dead.  I think an expensive funeral is bullshit - those making a lively hood off this ritual are abusing people's emotions.  Please!  I almost paid $100.00 to get my pet ferret's ashes back.  It's a racket.  I have her toy to remember her by.

Anyway, my family doesn't have funerals, necessarily.  We have parties.  We celebrate our deceased relatives and remember all the wonderful (and terrible, but mostly wonderful) things they've done.  I like that.

However, when my Aunt passed away from cancer, she was placed in a cardboard casket and we were allowed to watch her cremated - meaning they put the casket on a conveyor belt into an incinerator.  I didn't.  I had never heard of that before.   

If god takes life he's an indian giver


shelley
ModeratorRRS local affiliate
shelley's picture
Posts: 1859
Joined: 2006-12-26
User is offlineOffline
pariahjane wrote: However,

pariahjane wrote:

However, when my Aunt passed away from cancer, she was placed in a cardboard casket and we were allowed to watch her cremated - meaning they put the casket on a conveyor belt into an incinerator. I didn't. I had never heard of that before.

I read about this.  [There was a case here where the county was paying for cremation of animal remains (from the shelter) and it turned out that the company was just piling bodies out back.] 

Apparently people feel more comfortable with the option to view because of the many many reported cases of either bodies being switched or people given random ashes for remains while granny was laying in the compost pile out back. 


Hambydammit
High Level DonorModeratorRRS Core Member
Hambydammit's picture
Posts: 8657
Joined: 2006-10-22
User is offlineOffline
If memory serves, that dude

If memory serves, that dude was in Georgia.  It was quite a big deal in the news.

I was a little baffled by the whole thing, to be honest.  I mean, that dude is in jail, and is going to be there for a very long time, and yet, there's no real harm done to anybody.  I'm not saying what he did was ok, but for fucks sake, who cares whether the ashes are grandma's or just some Ovaltine?

My father's funeral was closed casket, so I never saw for certain that it was my dad getting put in the ground.  If somebody told me that it wasn't, I'd say something like, "No kidding?  That's really stupid.  Why did somebody bother doing all that?  He's dead.  What does it matter?"

I just don't get why people get their panties so bunched up over what happens to dead people.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
Books about atheism


Hambydammit
High Level DonorModeratorRRS Core Member
Hambydammit's picture
Posts: 8657
Joined: 2006-10-22
User is offlineOffline
duh... reading is

duh... reading is fundamental...

I see we're talking about different things.  There was a dude in Georgia who was doing the same thing with people -- tossing them in a mass grave out back and giving people ashes that weren't really their loved ones.

The crime of stealing the money, yes... very bad, but people seemed more upset about not having the real ashes.  That puzzled me.  I'd have been much more pissed about having my money stolen.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
Books about atheism


beliversrule
Theist
beliversrule's picture
Posts: 20
Joined: 2008-01-19
User is offlineOffline
I have been reading a lot

I have been reading a lot lately about some who are choosing to have I think they were called "green funerals".  Whatever they were called they are not preserved in anyway and are put into a casket that will soon breakdown and they and the casket become part of the earth again.  Has to be much cheaper to have a cardboard casket.

 I suppose they will start putting little bells above ground again in case someone isn't really dead and "wakes up".  I know if that's the way I was buried I'd request a bell!  But wait, I guess cardboard would be easier to crawl out of.  Oh, to be a person walking around the cemetary when that happens!

And we have no evidence whatsoever that the soul perishes with the body---------Mahatma Gandhi


darth_josh
High Level DonorHigh Level ModeratorGold Member
darth_josh's picture
Posts: 2642
Joined: 2006-02-27
User is offlineOffline
Jolt wrote: darth_josh

Jolt wrote:

darth_josh wrote:
I submit to you that not only are funerary rituals unnecessary, but also harmful to society as a whole. As such, I propose the precept of funerals to be an irrational one worthy of ethical evaluation regarding their continuation as a practice due to their detrimental effects upon the progression of humanity as a whole.

I read through your post once more and can't find any reason why a funeral could be harmful.

The omitted extra step in the inference was up to you. The harm is spending money on death rather than life.

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists.


kellym78
atheistRational VIP!
kellym78's picture
Posts: 602
Joined: 2006-04-18
User is offlineOffline
When I die, I want any

When I die, I want any usable organs (probably that will be 0) to be harvested, and then immediately be cremated. I want no people standing around staring at my dead body. How would I  know if I look good or not? (I'm being slightly facetious here.)

I want everybody who gives a shit to get together at a bar and have a drink while recalling what a bitch I was. I hate the deification of everybody who dies, as if you can't utter a bad word about a dead person.

I do understand that funerals give people a sense of closure, but I don't really care. I think that they're stupid and in general refuse to attend them.  


jmm
Theist
jmm's picture
Posts: 837
Joined: 2007-03-03
User is offlineOffline
Hambydammit wrote: I'm not

Hambydammit wrote:

I'm not saying what he did was ok, but for fucks sake, who cares whether the ashes are grandma's or just some Ovaltine? 

Kids:  "More Ovaltine pleeeease!"

Mom:  "Here you go kids - rich, chocolatey Ovaltine.  More nutritious than Hershey's syrup!"

*5 minutes later*

Kids:  "Mommy, the Ovaltine tastes like grandma."   


Fish
Posts: 315
Joined: 2007-05-31
User is offlineOffline
darth_josh wrote: The harm

darth_josh wrote:

The harm is spending money on death rather than life.

If, as the initial post states, funerals are good for the mental and emotional health of the living, then the money is indeed spent on life.


darth_josh
High Level DonorHigh Level ModeratorGold Member
darth_josh's picture
Posts: 2642
Joined: 2006-02-27
User is offlineOffline
Fish wrote: darth_josh

Fish wrote:
darth_josh wrote:

The harm is spending money on death rather than life.

If, as the initial post states, funerals are good for the mental and emotional health of the living, then the money is indeed spent on life.

Currently, they are 'good for mental health' according to psychologists.

Yet one cannot deny the irrationality of maintaining such a wasteful tradition. There are many alternate means of comfort after the death of a loved one.

Thanks, by the way, you just added some more to it. Give me a couple of days for research and I'll update. 

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists.


albedo_00
albedo_00's picture
Posts: 153
Joined: 2008-01-19
User is offlineOffline
Funerals and any other

Funerals and any other death ritual are indeed meant to be more for the family and loved ones of the deceased than for the departed him/herself. And yet, while the psychological benefits it brings are proven, it is, none the less, detrimental to society, so long as it represents an irrational waste of resources which could be put to much better use.

If it is the gathering, the ritual per se which helps the grieving process, then any gathering would suffice for the purpose, rendering all the other niceties of death meaningless, worst, useless. The overly expensive , needlessly comfty casket you only get to see once (and the attention is really on the cadaver, so no one actually takes notice of the box it's storaged in), the really nice pieces of land we make necropolies out of, the obituaries, etc. all that is money tossed in a hole (a really nice hole).

But other than this willing wastefullness, what really annoys me is the embalming process and the use of the casket itself, i.e. our desperate efforts to retard decomposition and take the only meaning of death out of our own deaths. To me, to deny our bodies to become manure as they douthlessly are intended to be once we're done with them seems like the ultimate act of both self-importance and plain damned selfishness. "Pushing up daisis" or more precisely put "Paying the debth to nature" are not just euphemisms. But instead, we have millions of corpses waxing into soap (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adipocere) (Bad put intended).

Hambydammit wrote:

I imagine my own funeral being more like a party. I only have two requests:

1) Nobody fucking prays. I mean it.

2) No eulogies. Everybody sits in a circle and passes around a bottle of whiskey. While you're holding the bottle, you get to say anything you want, good or bad, about me. Everybody has to stay til the bottle's gone.

The rest of it can be a big old party with strippers and trapeze girls, for all I care. That would be appropriate.

Now that's my kind of kicking the bucket party, only I would add that nobody throws my ass in an expensive casket, not even a box for that matter, just make manure out of me, bury me, chop me, shred me, do it however more eficiently you like, just take the organs that can be used (admitedly, there may not be many left, I plan to leave a "Henry V" kind of corpse) and then grind me all the way to the mulch pile. *takes a big gulp of the whiskey bottle and pass it along*

Lenore, The Cute Little Dead Girl. Twice as good as Jesus.


nikske
Posts: 5
Joined: 2008-02-05
User is offlineOffline
I agree that funerals are

I agree that funerals are for the living not the dead. My parents were put in the cheapest box (can't cremate without a box here), and cremated. Their ashes were scattered over at the crematorium. This is the cheapest way to get rid of a corpse here. No need for elaborate ceremony when getting rid of the rotting remains.

The rest of the insurance money we used for a big party, celebrating their lives.

This is the way I would like to be disposed of after I die, because I have seen how good it was for all the living.

(incidentally, my dad wanted to be put in a garbage can and left out with the trash, but unfortunately, laws prevented us from doing that)


AJWalton12
Posts: 3
Joined: 2008-01-27
User is offlineOffline
darth_josh wrote: Fish

darth_josh wrote:
Fish wrote:
darth_josh wrote:

The harm is spending money on death rather than life.

If, as the initial post states, funerals are good for the mental and emotional health of the living, then the money is indeed spent on life.

Currently, they are 'good for mental health' according to psychologists.

Yet one cannot deny the irrationality of maintaining such a wasteful tradition. There are many alternate means of comfort after the death of a loved one.

Thanks, by the way, you just added some more to it. Give me a couple of days for research and I'll update.

 

Funerals probably wouldn't be "good for mental health" (as in: necessary) if people had a healthier world view as it pertains to life and death.  The atheists I know aren't worried about death, and would not gain any psychological benefit from a funeral.  While I'm in no position to say what theists believe about the matter, it appears that the prospect of dieing is distressing to many of them, and I can see how a funeral might alleviate this stress if they believe the deceased is now "with god."

 

 

 


Fish
Posts: 315
Joined: 2007-05-31
User is offlineOffline
AJWalton12 wrote: Funerals

AJWalton12 wrote:

Funerals probably wouldn't be "good for mental health" (as in: necessary) if people (generally) had a heathier world view as it pertains to life and death. From personal experience, the atheists I know aren't worried about death, and would not gain any psychological benefit from a funeral. While I'm in no position to say what theists believe about the matter, it appears that the prospect of dieing is distressing to most of them, and I can see how a funeral might alleviate this stress if they belive the deceased is now "with god" (or equivalent).

Some people (including myself and at least some other atheists) become sad one loved ones die, due to the loss of something incredibly wonderful.

I for one was glad to have a funeral to help overcome feelings of grief. These feelings are not a result of an "unhealthy worldview," they are the result of natural emotions.  That you don't require such a thing is fine for you, but that doesn't make it irrational for people like me to have funerals.


darth_josh
High Level DonorHigh Level ModeratorGold Member
darth_josh's picture
Posts: 2642
Joined: 2006-02-27
User is offlineOffline
Fish, I am working on the

Fish,

I am working on the additional ideas for 'grief displacement'. I have another project that I have stumbled upon. As soon as I get that going then I will get back to this.

I was wondering if you could offer a suggestion as to what else besides a traditional funeral would have helped with your loss. 

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists.


Fish
Posts: 315
Joined: 2007-05-31
User is offlineOffline
darth_josh wrote: Fish, I

darth_josh wrote:

Fish,

I am working on the additional ideas for 'grief displacement'. I have another project that I have stumbled upon. As soon as I get that going then I will get back to this.

I was wondering if you could offer a suggestion as to what else besides a traditional funeral would have helped with your loss.

I'm not sure what qualifies as a "traditional funeral," and I'm also not sure if I have experienced one. As such, I find myself unable to suggest alternatives.

I look forward to the completion of your project. 


Jubal
Posts: 41
Joined: 2008-03-27
User is offlineOffline
Well you were I'm sure

Well you were I'm sure looking for a response, so here you will get one.

I can only speak from personal experience. I've buried at this point, my Mother, Father, Brother, 2 Aunts, 3 Nephews, a girlfriend and at least 5 close personal friends, not to mention at least a few dozen acquaintances.. I'm 43.

Perhaps you're one of those people who feels emotions are useless, or signs of weakness, or some other such twaddle, I couldn't tell form the OP. The tone of it certainly sounds like it.

But emotions make us human. And useless as you may feel them to be, and surely as much as at times I wish I could make them go away, I wouldn't REALLY want them to go away. It's what makes me ME. All we are really is our experiences and our emotions combined with our knowledge.

Each one of those deaths was traumatic in it's own way.

When one aunt died, I knew I would miss her terribly, and that my cousins would be feeling even lousier than I was. At her memorial service (My family mostly isn't big on funerals) we all got up and told stories of what she'd been in our lives, and tbh, the lady was pretty much up there on the saintliness list. She worked in adoption all her life, and helped literally thousands of children, often hard-to-place kids with serious problems find decent, loving homes. All this working for what was essentially chump-change, given the caliber of her mind and her PhD.

On the other hand, when another Aunt died, it was pretty much "Thank Gawd that's over, at least she doesn't have to live as a chronic, miserable alcoholic anymore." No one said any wonderful words. My Dad got up and told a couple of nice stories about her as a child, describing someone only he had ever known. The rest of us were just sort of left with: "Jeez I bet it's hard on Dad losing his kid sister."

When my Dad died, I felt like my entire world had just been ripped apart. He'd never had a sick day in his life, was in terrific shape and just POW dropped dead from a pulmonary embolism. I was 1000 miles away when it happened and didn't even find out for 2 days. My father had become one of my dearest and closest friends. One of the people I always knew I could depend upon for advice, or least a sympathetic ear. And someone, even when he was telling me I was full of shit, I always knew was "on my side."

At his memorial, we all got up and told various stories. I talked about his being a socialist and an atheist to the end, and reminisced about how I always teased him about being a "commie."  I also talked about a few of the things we never could agree upon.  My sister got up and told the story of her trashing his car the first time she borrowed it. (He didn't care about the car, SHE was safe.)

Other people got up and said some things. a whole bunch of which I'd never even known. turned out Dad had been helping a whole lot of people in a lot of ways that I never even knew about.

We talked about the tendency to "not speak ill of the dead" at the time. My mother got really pissy about this, because everyone (and there was a line out the door...my Dad had a pretty big impact on a lot of people) was talking about what a terrific guy he was. -she was jealous.

But actually, the stuff that mattered, the stuff that impacted us all more than anything else was the good stuff. The bad stuff (like his drinking until he sobered up) had all been resolved long before he died. There were no lingering "issues" for anyone. We were all shocked and surprised at his death, and were all very very sad we'd never see him again.

When my mother died, I didn't attend the services. We'd had nothing but misery between us since I was a tiny boy. I wasn't glad for her death, but I was glad she wouldn't continue to live the miserable existence she'd made her last 20 years into. I told my sister I wouldn't be coming, didn't want anything from her estate, and signed papers forfeiting any rights. I just told her there was no point showing up for a memorial when all the memories I had were either awful, or immediately followed or preceded by something awful. I still felt bad, and conflicted, but I got over it by talking about it with friends, not a memorial. My Sister on the other hand, and my Daughter, really NEEDED the service for their grief process).

 

OK, that's enough funeral stories. The point is, I'm fucking well qualified to speak as a survivor of lots of deaths pf people close to me, some had little effect, some were giant (Dad died 7 years ago, I'll let you know when it stops hurting completely).

 

The services we had for those people were all about the living. The dead weren't there. They didn't care. Even if you believe in Jaybus, they weren't  there. So did they work? Yes. The intent was to give the survivors some closure. And memorials in particular, where you tell stories about your interactions with the dead person, are great for that.

I see immense value in this process for the people who matter: The living. If it helps, then do it. If it doesn't then don't. But as you have said, psychologists agree that it helps with the suffering of losing a loved one.

I'm all for the Neptune society. being married with a child, I have a will, and in it, I state explicitly that I wish as little money as possible to be spent in disposing of my remains or on any ceremony, and that I would like those interested to feel free to hold a party in honor of my memory and remember me. That and children, and whatever accomplishments I've made, are all the immortality I get. Of course if they spend a gazillion dollars on a fancy wood box, I would be horrified, but then again, I'll be dead and won't know, so who the fuck cares?

I agree that the amount of money spent on funerals is horrific. It assaults my sense of rationality and more to the point, it assaults my belief in the value of humans still living. I'm all for trying to spread the word that funerals should be as cheap as possible and money should be spent on the living. But funerals or memorials being irrational?  Your own post seems to contradict it.

Emotions aren't rational, but that doesn't mean you don't have them. Emotions are frequently a cause of lots of bad stuff, but you're stuck with them, just like everyone else. The best we can do is try to keep them at bay enough to not let them do us harm. This is where the funeral comes in. I can't control my sense of loss over my father. It gets a little better all the time, and most days I don't feel sad about it. Without the closure of the memorial service I have to tell you I don't know if I could have managed.

Land space? Gimme a break! I'm a lot more pissed about land being used to pack people even closer together like sardines with no allowances being made for privacy, transportation infrastructure etc. than I could ever be about cemeteries. It's seriously not like we're using tons of top-notch farmland for cemeteries while people die from starvation due to lack of arable land. That's just not the case.

As for the expense of flying a body home from a battlefield; If that were the kind of money that meant something you might almost have a point, but only almost. First its chump change in terms of a war's expenses. Secondly, if your country or for that matter your mercenary brigade is too goddamn cheap to fly your dead body or ashes home to give comfort to your family after you've died, you're gonna have a hard time convincing anyone to join a military organization.

Dad doesn't have a headstone anywhere. I think there's a plaque to him someplace on the wall the Unitarian Universalist Society in the town he lived in. His memorial is me, and all the other people he touched. I don't expect to see him in the great beyond, and given a couple generations, he won't be anything more than a name in someone's genealogy notebook. I can live with that. I'm honestly not sure if I could have LIVED (I mean that literally) without the memorial. Point was, the money went to help real ALIVE people, with real needs. (I spent $200 on food for the reception, the church donated the space and the minister wouldn't take an honorarium)

The freakin cremation services cost $800 -go figure.

So no, I strongly disagree with the notion that funereal rites are irrational or a bad thing. Spending oodles of money on the dead? Seems a waste, and I think we're in accord on that part.

 

And one last thing...don't confuse people using death of others for political mileage with the suffering of friends and family. Because one group is a bunch of opportunistic heartless bastards doesn't diminish the pain we feel when someone we care about dies.

Being open-minded isn't the same thing as being vacant.


darth_josh
High Level DonorHigh Level ModeratorGold Member
darth_josh's picture
Posts: 2642
Joined: 2006-02-27
User is offlineOffline
Jubal wrote:Well you were

Jubal wrote:

Well you were I'm sure looking for a response, so here you will get one.

I can only speak from personal experience. I've buried at this point, my Mother, Father, Brother, 2 Aunts, 3 Nephews, a girlfriend and at least 5 close personal friends, not to mention at least a few dozen acquaintances.. I'm 43.

Perhaps you're one of those people who feels emotions are useless, or signs of weakness, or some other such twaddle, I couldn't tell form the OP. The tone of it certainly sounds like it.

Of course I expect responses.

At 14 dead, you're as qualified as anyone else to discuss this matter.

Emotions aren't useless. Anger prompted you to think on this situation. Although, some thoughts you have posted should be re-read.

Quote:
But emotions make us human. And useless as you may feel them to be, and surely as much as at times I wish I could make them go away, I wouldn't REALLY want them to go away. It's what makes me ME. All we are really is our experiences and our emotions combined with our knowledge.

I am not the sum of my experiences when I have more to do. I am not a culmination of knowledge and emotion because without thought the two are worthless. What good is knowledge not used or emotions unfettered in a society?

Quote:
Each one of those deaths was traumatic in it's own way.

When one aunt died, I knew I would miss her terribly, and that my cousins would be feeling even lousier than I was. At her memorial service (My family mostly isn't big on funerals) we all got up and told stories of what she'd been in our lives, and tbh, the lady was pretty much up there on the saintliness list. She worked in adoption all her life, and helped literally thousands of children, often hard-to-place kids with serious problems find decent, loving homes. All this working for what was essentially chump-change, given the caliber of her mind and her PhD.

On the other hand, when another Aunt died, it was pretty much "Thank Gawd that's over, at least she doesn't have to live as a chronic, miserable alcoholic anymore." No one said any wonderful words. My Dad got up and told a couple of nice stories about her as a child, describing someone only he had ever known. The rest of us were just sort of left with: "Jeez I bet it's hard on Dad losing his kid sister."

When my Dad died, I felt like my entire world had just been ripped apart. He'd never had a sick day in his life, was in terrific shape and just POW dropped dead from a pulmonary embolism. I was 1000 miles away when it happened and didn't even find out for 2 days. My father had become one of my dearest and closest friends. One of the people I always knew I could depend upon for advice, or least a sympathetic ear. And someone, even when he was telling me I was full of shit, I always knew was "on my side."

At his memorial, we all got up and told various stories. I talked about his being a socialist and an atheist to the end, and reminisced about how I always teased him about being a "commie."  I also talked about a few of the things we never could agree upon.  My sister got up and told the story of her trashing his car the first time she borrowed it. (He didn't care about the car, SHE was safe.)

Other people got up and said some things. a whole bunch of which I'd never even known. turned out Dad had been helping a whole lot of people in a lot of ways that I never even knew about.

We talked about the tendency to "not speak ill of the dead" at the time. My mother got really pissy about this, because everyone (and there was a line out the door...my Dad had a pretty big impact on a lot of people) was talking about what a terrific guy he was. -she was jealous.

But actually, the stuff that mattered, the stuff that impacted us all more than anything else was the good stuff. The bad stuff (like his drinking until he sobered up) had all been resolved long before he died. There were no lingering "issues" for anyone. We were all shocked and surprised at his death, and were all very very sad we'd never see him again.

When my mother died, I didn't attend the services. We'd had nothing but misery between us since I was a tiny boy. I wasn't glad for her death, but I was glad she wouldn't continue to live the miserable existence she'd made her last 20 years into. I told my sister I wouldn't be coming, didn't want anything from her estate, and signed papers forfeiting any rights. I just told her there was no point showing up for a memorial when all the memories I had were either awful, or immediately followed or preceded by something awful. I still felt bad, and conflicted, but I got over it by talking about it with friends, not a memorial. My Sister on the other hand, and my Daughter, really NEEDED the service for their grief process).

 

OK, that's enough funeral stories. The point is, I'm fucking well qualified to speak as a survivor of lots of deaths pf people close to me, some had little effect, some were giant (Dad died 7 years ago, I'll let you know when it stops hurting completely).

And out of your own writing, I find my dissenting opinion.

The dad's funeral did not, in fact, act as closure for you.

Your experiences with loved and hated dead people match many others.

 

Quote:
The services we had for those people were all about the living. The dead weren't there. They didn't care. Even if you believe in Jaybus, they weren't  there. So did they work? Yes. The intent was to give the survivors some closure. And memorials in particular, where you tell stories about your interactions with the dead person, are great for that.

Apparently not, if your memories of the individual are focused on the funeral part afterward. How many of the stories do you remember from the services? All? Some?

Quote:
I see immense value in this process for the people who matter: The living. If it helps, then do it. If it doesn't then don't. But as you have said, psychologists agree that it helps with the suffering of losing a loved one.

Just because psychologists say it, doesn't impart truth after analysis.

Quote:
I'm all for the Neptune society. being married with a child, I have a will, and in it, I state explicitly that I wish as little money as possible to be spent in disposing of my remains or on any ceremony, and that I would like those interested to feel free to hold a party in honor of my memory and remember me. That and children, and whatever accomplishments I've made, are all the immortality I get. Of course if they spend a gazillion dollars on a fancy wood box, I would be horrified, but then again, I'll be dead and won't know, so who the fuck cares?

Which I think you will find is the majority choice. Perhaps the same choice your father wanted. However, you still grieve.

Quote:
I agree that the amount of money spent on funerals is horrific. It assaults my sense of rationality and more to the point, it assaults my belief in the value of humans still living. I'm all for trying to spread the word that funerals should be as cheap as possible and money should be spent on the living. But funerals or memorials being irrational?  Your own post seems to contradict it.

It assaults your 'sense of rationality', yet it is not irrational???

Quote:
Emotions aren't rational, but that doesn't mean you don't have them.

Says you. There are rational reasons for emotions if one is willing to spend the time in introspection looking for the cause of them.

Quote:
Emotions are frequently a cause of lots of bad stuff, but you're stuck with them, just like everyone else. The best we can do is try to keep them at bay enough to not let them do us harm. This is where the funeral comes in. I can't control my sense of loss over my father. It gets a little better all the time, and most days I don't feel sad about it. Without the closure of the memorial service I have to tell you I don't know if I could have managed.

Emotions lead to great things more often in my opinion. One can still think while being emotional. Trying to suppress emotions has also been shown to lead to aberrant behavior.

It isn't 'closed' you have said so yourself. Can you really make the assertion that without it(memorial) you would be in a worse emotional state?

Quote:
Land space? Gimme a break! I'm a lot more pissed about land being used to pack people even closer together like sardines with no allowances being made for privacy, transportation infrastructure etc. than I could ever be about cemeteries. It's seriously not like we're using tons of top-notch farmland for cemeteries while people die from starvation due to lack of arable land. That's just not the case.

Isn't it? If Arlington Nat. Cem. were not there, what could be?

Quote:
As for the expense of flying a body home from a battlefield; If that were the kind of money that meant something you might almost have a point, but only almost. First its chump change in terms of a war's expenses. Secondly, if your country or for that matter your mercenary brigade is too goddamn cheap to fly your dead body or ashes home to give comfort to your family after you've died, you're gonna have a hard time convincing anyone to join a military organization.

You say this as if it is a bad thing? Shouldn't it be difficult to convince anyone to risk dying?

Quote:
Dad doesn't have a headstone anywhere. I think there's a plaque to him someplace on the wall the Unitarian Universalist Society in the town he lived in. His memorial is me, and all the other people he touched. I don't expect to see him in the great beyond, and given a couple generations, he won't be anything more than a name in someone's genealogy notebook. I can live with that. I'm honestly not sure if I could have LIVED (I mean that literally) without the memorial. Point was, the money went to help real ALIVE people, with real needs. (I spent $200 on food for the reception, the church donated the space and the minister wouldn't take an honorarium)

Exception or rule?

Quote:
The freakin cremation services cost $800 -go figure.

Standard. It is ridiculous what they charge.

Quote:
So no, I strongly disagree with the notion that funereal rites are irrational or a bad thing. Spending oodles of money on the dead? Seems a waste, and I think we're in accord on that part.

Ummm. It doesn't really seem that we do disagree.

 

Quote:
And one last thing...don't confuse people using death of others for political mileage with the suffering of friends and family. Because one group is a bunch of opportunistic heartless bastards doesn't diminish the pain we feel when someone we care about dies.

How can we know that their loss(or gain) is any different?

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists.


funknotik
atheist
funknotik's picture
Posts: 157
Joined: 2007-12-10
User is offlineOffline
ProzacDeathWish wrote:My

ProzacDeathWish wrote:

My death will be no big deal. I am one person out of over six billion other humans. That massive number alone devalues my individual worth...doesn't matter to me, though.

Kind of like when an individual star explodes within a galaxy...interesting perhaps, but in light of the other trillion of stars that still exist, hardly significant.

As a person who suffers from suicidal tendencies ( ProzacDeathWish, get it? ) the loss of my life is just an event that is long overdue.

As far as funeral arrangements there will be none. No ceremonies, not even secular ones, will be enacted. My body will cremated and that's that. I have requested that there be no obituary notice. No ego trip from my end, I hated my fucking life from start to finish, why make a big deal about my passing ?

I even asked my girlfriend to take my ashes and flush them down the toilet to symbolize my utter disdain for the so-called "gift of life"

She refuses to agree with my request, but there's not much I can do about it is there ?

At any rate, anyone can see that I have made every effort to make my passing as subtle and insignificant as possible.

It wasn't like I was a fucking pharaoh or something.

I disagree with everyone, especially prozacdeathwish I am greater than any pharoah (sarcasm). I want a ridiculously elaborate funeral and I want to be mummified. Instead of a tomb stone I want a massive statue of me with an extremely exaggerated hyper masculine physique, something like this, possibly bigger.

 

I also want 50 naked women serving my friends, family, and guests. Everyone will be required to take a hit of acid at the entrance and there will be complimentary drinks and marijuana joints. My mummified body will be lowered in the earth to the song 46 and 2 by Tool which they will be performing live. There will be an after party featuring performances by squarepusher, dj qbert, edan, and additional music by tool. The full line up has yet to be announced.  There will also be a power lifting competition you can sign up at the entrance. Why?? Because I find it amusing, and I'm sure my friends will get a kick out of it. It would basically be like coachella but a million times better. But seriously funerals can be celebrations rather than sad events where everyone feels awkward and out of place.  I definitely want music performed at my funeral, some powerful shit.

 


Dick Buchwilder (not verified)
Posts: 4294964979
Joined: 1969-12-31
User is offlineOffline
 "One day, I'd love to see

 "One day, I'd love to see a funeral where the eulogy goes something like this:

"Jim Bob was a real son of a bitch.  He beat the crap out of his wife, couldn't keep a job, and drank like a fish.  In the end, the only thing he seemed capable of doing consistently was getting women (not necessarily his wife) pregnant.  He died of cirrosis, and not a minute too soon.  Maybe now, all the people who suffered because of him will have a chance to make something of their lives before they're dead, too."

I couldn't agree more. My only beef with the way we deal with the deceased is that it's considered taboo to be honest about their character. You should never say anything bad about someone after their death. If that's so, how do we go about educating the world on people like Hitler? There is nothing good to say about him. He was a douche bag and should be remembered as such.

As for overly extravagant funerals I say to each their own. If you go overboard and break the bank honoring the dead you're an idiot, but it's your money and you can spend it however like. I disagree that we shouldn't gather to remember the people who changed our lives for the better. I think it's an excellent means of saying goodbye (even if they won't know about it) and putting their life and death in perspective.


Louis_Cypher
BloggerSuperfan
Louis_Cypher's picture
Posts: 529
Joined: 2008-03-22
User is offlineOffline
Death be not proud...

I remember a co-worker who died. I was a fireman at the time and one of the old guys packed it in. The chief offered us time to go to the funeral, I refused. When he asked me why, I told him simply, "The man was an asshole, I didn't like him when he was alive, now, he's just a dead asshole."

I don't think death improves a person's character.

On another note...

Is it me, or do most (Christian) funerals seem to be hour long infomercials for the religion, with only a passing mention of the guest of honor?

LC >;-}>

 

Christianity: A disgusting middle eastern blood cult, based in human sacrifice, with sacraments of cannibalism and vampirism, whose highest icon is of a near naked man hanging in torment from a device of torture.


Jiggles Vibe
Posts: 40
Joined: 2008-05-24
User is offlineOffline
funknotik

funknotik wrote:

ProzacDeathWish wrote:

My death will be no big deal. I am one person out of over six billion other humans. That massive number alone devalues my individual worth...doesn't matter to me, though.

Kind of like when an individual star explodes within a galaxy...interesting perhaps, but in light of the other trillion of stars that still exist, hardly significant.

As a person who suffers from suicidal tendencies ( ProzacDeathWish, get it? ) the loss of my life is just an event that is long overdue.

As far as funeral arrangements there will be none. No ceremonies, not even secular ones, will be enacted. My body will cremated and that's that. I have requested that there be no obituary notice. No ego trip from my end, I hated my fucking life from start to finish, why make a big deal about my passing ?

I even asked my girlfriend to take my ashes and flush them down the toilet to symbolize my utter disdain for the so-called "gift of life"

She refuses to agree with my request, but there's not much I can do about it is there ?

At any rate, anyone can see that I have made every effort to make my passing as subtle and insignificant as possible.

It wasn't like I was a fucking pharaoh or something.

I disagree with everyone, especially prozacdeathwish I am greater than any pharoah (sarcasm). I want a ridiculously elaborate funeral and I want to be mummified. Instead of a tomb stone I want a massive statue of me with an extremely exaggerated hyper masculine physique, something like this, possibly bigger.

 

I also want 50 naked women serving my friends, family, and guests. Everyone will be required to take a hit of acid at the entrance and there will be complimentary drinks and marijuana joints. My mummified body will be lowered in the earth to the song 46 and 2 by Tool which they will be performing live. There will be an after party featuring performances by squarepusher, dj qbert, edan, and additional music by tool. The full line up has yet to be announced.  There will also be a power lifting competition you can sign up at the entrance. Why?? Because I find it amusing, and I'm sure my friends will get a kick out of it. It would basically be like coachella but a million times better. But seriously funerals can be celebrations rather than sad events where everyone feels awkward and out of place.  I definitely want music performed at my funeral, some powerful shit.

 

 

I will be there.

"The longer you live the higher you fly,
the smiles you'll give and the tears you'll cry,
all you touch and all you see,
is all your life will ever be."
-Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon.


nude0007
atheist
nude0007's picture
Posts: 41
Joined: 2011-06-14
User is offlineOffline
funerality

 I favor cremation, what happens after that is of no import to me.   I hate the burial in a hermetically sealed container bs.  Pour the ashes in a hole and walk away.  

I would like for someone to read an autobiography I wrote, cause not many people really know much about me, or maybe just a statement of things I believe(d) and hold dear, or both.  I would prefer not having any service at a church, and no religious bs read over my body, but somehow I doubt that would be honored.  Frankly, I feel that after someone is gone, there is little point in gathering to remember them.  I almost never learned anything about someone from their funeral, and at that point it's too late, so who cares?


Answers in Gene...
High Level Donor
Answers in Gene Simmons's picture
Posts: 4214
Joined: 2008-11-11
User is offlineOffline
Well, my stated preference

Well, my stated preference to anyone who will listen to me is that my body be given to the state police academy for dog training.  There I will be cut into parts and buried in numerous small graves all over an old farm the state bought decades ago just for that purpose.  However, knowing full well that my brother is probably going to stick me in the family plot anyway, I refuse to pay a lawyer to draw the papers up.  I would rather spend that money on booze while I am still alive.

In any case, if he simply must have some kind of ceremony, I would hope for the party type.  I like the idea of passing a bottle around, especially if I can get my best friend to dose it when it comes his way.  If he simply has to spend lots of money on the deal, he should get a case of Balvenie double wood ($50/bottle scotch).  Make sure the last bottle goes in the hole with me just in case there really is an afterlife and I get thirsty.  If he really wants to pour money down the drain, he should hire Ricky Gervais to read from the bible.

NoMoreCrazyPeople wrote:
Never ever did I say enything about free, I said "free."

=


Brian37
atheistSuperfan
Brian37's picture
Posts: 13235
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
Answers in Gene Simmons

Answers in Gene Simmons wrote:

Well, my stated preference to anyone who will listen to me is that my body be given to the state police academy for dog training.  There I will be cut into parts and buried in numerous small graves all over an old farm the state bought decades ago just for that purpose.  However, knowing full well that my brother is probably going to stick me in the family plot anyway, I refuse to pay a lawyer to draw the papers up.  I would rather spend that money on booze while I am still alive.

In any case, if he simply must have some kind of ceremony, I would hope for the party type.  I like the idea of passing a bottle around, especially if I can get my best friend to dose it when it comes his way.  If he simply has to spend lots of money on the deal, he should get a case of Balvenie double wood ($50/bottle scotch).  Make sure the last bottle goes in the hole with me just in case there really is an afterlife and I get thirsty.  If he really wants to pour money down the drain, he should hire Ricky Gervais to read from the bible.

If having your body donated for dog training will allow a future dog to catch a killer, or save a buried human, then it would be worth it to pay a lawyer, for their training. And a living will isn't that expensive to make. And even if you don't want to hire a lawyer, you could get a trusted friend to video record your wishes so that if a dispute does end up in court they can bring it in as evidence.

But, you made me think myself. I've wanted to be cremated up until reading this. That would be a waste of money. I think about it now and I would donate my body to scientific research. But that wont happen if I don't tell someone and have it recorded.

BUT, like you, I would want something like a party, like a celebrity roast where people come up and take turns telling embarrassing and funny stories about me and silly jokes about me.

I'd say do your crying at a separate venue if you want some time to be serious, but the main event after my passing to memorialize me would be a party.

 

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5800
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
Like you Brian, I have

Like you Brian, I have thought of cremation, but you make me think of other things now.

Hmmm..

(Oh and BTW Brian, your phone seems to be off the hook, or something...)

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


Answers in Gene...
High Level Donor
Answers in Gene Simmons's picture
Posts: 4214
Joined: 2008-11-11
User is offlineOffline
OK, if you want to donate

OK, if you want to donate your body to science, that is cool enough.  You could consider options there as well.  Mostly everyone who goes that route donates the body to medical school.  However, that is not the only option and may not be the best one.

My father had his body sent to Johns Hopkins and three years later, we got a letter from them saying that they were done with it and would we please come by and pick it up.

I will have to do some digging but there is a university in Virginia which is the premiere place for people training to be forensic pathologists aka coroners.  I don't think that you get much choice over which experiments they will do, so you might get left out in the sun to rot so that the students can come by every couple of days to see how matters are progressing.

Another is forensic anthropology.  I don't know where you go to learn that but I read a fascinating book on the topic several years ago.  They will put you in a human sized steam table and slow cook you until the flesh falls off your bones.  Then they will see what they can learn about your life just from your skeleton.  The instructor will have your medical records and he will only confirm or deny what the students think they are seeing.

NoMoreCrazyPeople wrote:
Never ever did I say enything about free, I said "free."

=


Zaq
atheist
Zaq's picture
Posts: 269
Joined: 2008-12-24
User is offlineOffline
The fact that people get

The fact that people get closure out of funerals is enough of a reason to have them.  Even if the closure is an irrational emotive response, this does not change the fact that it still happens.  So if you dismiss the closure on the basis of "it's not rational to feel that way," then you're advocating a course of action based on the way reality "should be," rather than on the way reality is.  And that's irrational.

Questions for Theists:
http://silverskeptic.blogspot.com/2011/03/consistent-standards.html

I'm a bit of a lurker. Every now and then I will come out of my cave with a flurry of activity. Then the Ph.D. program calls and I must fall back to the shadows.


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5800
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
Emotional drives are what

Emotional drives are what makes us tick. What makes us other than biological machines.

Funerals, and many other rituals, can be very important to our emotional well-being.

They are not 'irrational', which suggests against reason, they are 'non-rational', ie they are not based on 'rational' thought processes.

There is no reason to do anything without our non-rational drives, urges, desires, hopes, our feelings of meaning and purpose.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


Recovering fund...
atheistSuperfan
Recovering fundamentalist's picture
Posts: 196
Joined: 2011-03-14
User is offlineOffline
Visual_Paradox wrote:I

Visual_Paradox wrote:
I agree. Paying thousands of dollars, or passing that bill onto the next generation, to have your corpse lay on a soft pillow in a box is absurd.

So what would you do? Toss their body in the garbage can because it saves money? Just wondering.

Optimism is reality, pessimism is the fantasy that you know enough to be cynical


cj
atheistRational VIP!
cj's picture
Posts: 3330
Joined: 2007-01-05
User is offlineOffline
Recovering fundamentalist

Recovering fundamentalist wrote:

Visual_Paradox wrote:
I agree. Paying thousands of dollars, or passing that bill onto the next generation, to have your corpse lay on a soft pillow in a box is absurd.

So what would you do? Toss their body in the garbage can because it saves money? Just wondering.

 

I say torch everyone and use the ashes as fertilizer.

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


5_senses_does_n...
Posts: 40
Joined: 2011-07-12
User is offlineOffline
Cool,then if you die before

Cool,

then if you die before me, can I take a steaming shit on your dead corpse?

you probably won't mind, and it will definitely make me a little more relieved.

 

I'm kidding of course, very thought provoking post, although I think honoring peoples lives after there passing is psychologically important and should not go away.  but the disposing of ones dead body could be changed quite a bit.

 

SOY LENT GREEN!

....Yum.

I don't know which I doubt more.
the existence of god, or an open minded atheist.


Kapkao
atheistSuperfanBronze Member
Kapkao's picture
Posts: 4121
Joined: 2010-01-12
User is offlineOffline
shelleymtjoy wrote:I'd have

shelleymtjoy wrote:

I'd have to disagree.  While I see the religious reasons for ceremonial burial, I don't think there is a specific evolutionary purpose for this but rather it may be a consequence of our perception of the value of life. 

31/2 years  too late but here goes...

Tell me, in a paleolithic world  of pleistocene megafauna carnivores (dire wolf; short-faced bear; giant condor; etc), where metal tools weren't even imaginable, dieing before reaching puberty was pretty common, and living a day past 45 was uncommon, the means (herbal or otherwise) of dealing with a life-threatening disease were practically nil, what do you suppose the value of life was all the way back then?

I have no doubt that burial became religious some time after its initial practice, but no specific evolutionary purpose? So you're telling me that natural selection wouldn't likely be involved in leaving a corpse out in the open for it to stink up, draw huge amounts of flies and possibly a scavenging carnivore or two (maybe some hyenas)?

 

I'm going to have to disagree.

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)