|Let me say that days BEFORE my not so close in-law's mother's funeral, I had been working with my Dad on some very
important documents. After my Dad and I were finished, he would need to sign the documents in front of a notary.
Days before, I had scheduled a mobile notary to arrive at my Dad's home AFTER the funeral. My spouse and I had not
planned to go to the gravesite or gather at the home of the deceased, so I thought I had timed it just right.
The funeral was on a Saturday and because I was accustomed to funerals ending within 2 hours and/or 2 hours and 1/2, I
did not foresee a problem with scheduling a notary on the same day. I was wrong.
after what I assumed had been 2 hours, I looked at my watch. Two hours and 10 minutes had
come and gone. People were still in their glory praising God and celebrating the deceased.
As I noticed the time creeping away, I finally whispered to my spouse and exited the church.
During my exodus, I realized that the church was filled with more people than I thought.
where the celebratory home-going was still at its peak. It was at this time, did I realize that
more supporters had arrived since my departure.
The church was packed so much so, that there were people standing against each of the back walls and others were
literally squeezing inside the doorway. Without over exaggerating, the church was WAY OVER capacity with people
spilling outside onto the sidewalks.
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| Funeral Etiquette
|Posted Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Filed under Commentary
|This entry was posted Wednesday, December 11, 2013; filed under Keeba’s Commentary.
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|Keeba Smith is a published writer and desired screenplay artist. She is the author of “Shades of Bright Pale” and many other
unacquainted writings. Please visit www.Keeba.org to find out more about Keeba Smith, read additional critiques and her
unpublished autobiography, “Spirit in the Dark.”
|I was raised to show etiquette at all times; especially at funerals. I was raised to believe that
funerals were somber and a time for supportive-love and peacefulness. A time to be still,
remaining subdued while listening. It is a time to show respect to the families/friends as well as to
the deceased. It is quiet time. Some people cry, others shout in pain and agony over the loss of
their loved one, etc.
I was raised that it was proper to allow the grieved to share their pain. Again, it is a time to be
quiet. However, all of this changed some years ago when a not so close in-law's mother died.
When my distant in-law passed away, my spouse and I wanted to show our respect. We arrived
1/2-hour early at the church, but it was not the normal quiet time with funeral directors ushering
people to their seats. Instead, it was a church filled vastly with people on both sides. Some were
sitting and talking while others were standing and talking. The conversations were neither hushed
nor clattery and they were not necessarily about the deceased or the family of the deceased.
Although I could hear them, they were not bothersome and I assumed people were just having
trivial conversations while waiting for the service to begin.
The atmosphere of the church was not lacking order nor was it the setting I expected. Because
we had arrived early, I did not expect the church to be filled, but since it was I thought the service
would be soon called to order. I kept looking toward the staging area and then around the filled
church. I did not recognize what would appear to be a clergy person or anyone who was going to
call the parishioner's attention.
After what seemed like minutes - perhaps 20 or 30 - a beautiful wonderfully dressed heavyset
woman jumped out of what seemed like the middle of nowhere and shouted, "GOD IS A GOOD
Although I was not startled, I was surprised by her actions. In fact, I was taken aback.
The woman shouted again, "GOD IS A GOOD GOD!" She then began to clap her hands, singing
at the top of her lungs, "God is a good God!"
And when she sang it again "God is a good God", parishioners jumped to their feet and joined in
the chorus while clapping their hands.
Surprised, my spouse and I sat VERY still in our seats. It was not until moments later that we
joined in. Later, we later learned it was NOT a somber funeral but a CELEBRATION! It was
not a funeral to say goodbye, but it was a home-going; homage to the child that God loved.
|I have no idea how long President Obama and the others were at Nelson Mandela's funeral, but I do know the flight to
South Africa is at least 20 hours and is much longer when returning. (Return flights always appear to be longer.)
Reports said it was raining but that the South Africans deemed it a sign of peace and good luck.
And in fact, reports have said that the music and singing was so loud, that
some people asked the participants to stop so that they could hear the
speakers. The vocalists were cooperative momentarily, but at some point
returned to their joyful celebration of the father of their land; their
suffering saint who stood with them until his death. Correction: they
stayed with him for more than a week AFTER his death, lionizing their
gladiator, great liberator and defender.
Over the years, it had been reported that Mandela was fun and humorously funny. That he enjoyed having a good time,
often participating in funny antics. And I would like to believe that he would have approved of President Obama, British
Prime Minister David Cameron and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt taking "selfies".
When was the last time Obama, Cameron and Thorning-Schmidt were in one another's presence at once?
While most dignitaries are often ordered to meticulously plan photo ops, when was the last time these folks had a chance
to just unwind and take imprecise photos?
Was a funeral the wrong time? Perhaps it was. But President Obama along with his wife Michelle, have been under the
microscope of scrutiny since the day they took office.
While on vacation, Michelle could not catch a break for dressing like the girl next door. And many times afterward, was
questioned about her attire when appearing on Jay Leno, attendance at a public park exercising with kids, appearing at a
soup kitchen etc. Women are hardly ever forgiven and just because she is the First Lady of these divided states, Michelle
Obama will never be exempt.
While some reports say that President Obama was being disrespectful at Mandela's funeral, the reports followed saying
that Mrs. Obama (our FLOTUS) was upset with the selfies. However, what some news reporters DID NOT report,
was that she was joking with the threesome just BEFORE the infamous selfie photo. Therefore, I hardly deem her upset.
Perhaps she was finished with the laughs and jokes of the threesome and turned to face the front. Alternatively, since
she has been the ongoing talk about her own appearance, perhaps she told and reminded herself that it would just give
some narrow-minded folks more rubbish to toss. And if the latter was her train of thought, then she was right.
|President Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt pose for a selfie-pic
at a memorial service for Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
|At times, the home-going was movingly-touching, but at all times, it was a peaceful, praising and nice celebration.
As I sat, listened and watched, I could not help but wonder how much time had passed so I glanced at my watch. Another
hour had passed. The church house was thumping with banging cymbals, drums and clapping of hands, while the drums,
piano and guitars played in brilliant harmony of cheerfully singing voices.
The celebration ended in what seemed like hours later, and then the congregation was directed to stand for the viewing. My
spouse and I followed the crowd in front of us where we stopped to give our condolences to the family. And after shaking
hands, I noticed that only one family member had been previously (notably) crying. Other than the one, every face seemed
to show signs of glad and peaceful comfort.
I know that everyone deals with grief differently, as each of us are unique no matter how similar we are.
Many years later when my Dad died, I cried for my Mother and years later, I was glad that my Mother was home with our
Nonetheless, my spouse and I finally made our way through the mass crowd. And while in the car, we noted how it all
started with the woman singing, "God is a good God". We remarked how surprised we were when people eagerly and
happily jumped to their feet; joining in with their joyful clapping. In addition to the length of the celebratory ceremony, we
continued to say how nice it was. I honestly cannot recall ever saying that attending a funeral was nice, or even sort of
pleasant, but this one was. It was celebratory and it was new to me; I liked it.
I do not recall anyone posing for pictures during or after the home-going, but at every somber funeral I have ever attended,
there has always been picture-taking before and after.
Again, I suppose everyone grieves and behaves differently before, during and after funerals. I do know that one thing is for
sure, is that I so desire that my siblings respect my request when I die.
In writing, my spouse and I have informed our loved love ones that we have eagerly and happily donated our bodies to the
Anatomical Board of Colorado.
We have directed and informed that our wishes to be respected when we are called home to be with our Savior. For my
celebratory home-going, I want Kirk Franklin's upbeat celebratory jumping song "Stomp" played at my PARTY. Yes, a
I want everyone in attendance to jump up, sing and stomp!…Be happy for me. Be happy that I am no longer dead, but
finally ALIVE. I want them to enjoy the party and then party the rest of their lives.
Now of course some people may feel a tad uncomfortable - at first. But they will get used to it just as I did…knowing it
was what I wanted. I want them to take pictures before, during and after. Why, because it is a celebration of my life. For
those that know me, they would be familiar with my happy-go-lucky persona. Over the years, I have read and heard news
reports of others that feel the same, and I believe Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was similar.
Nelson Mandela was South Africa's first Black president, who had an ongoing fight against racism, poverty and inequality.
He had enough challenges for a lifetime, however, He HAD to have a comparable attitude as he was imprisoned for 27
years but a fanciful and cheerful disposition towards everyone; his jailers as well.
The stories people have told and are continuing to tell about Mandela portray him as a man who would not have changed a
thing about his celebratory home-going; even the fake sign language interpreter.
|Nelson "Madiba" Mandela