Friday, September 10, 2010

Weddings and Funerals: More Alike Than You Might Think

Has anyone else other than me noticed that there are frightening parallels between funerals and weddings?

(If you haven’t noticed this, you may think that my love of wine has finally burned off my last, useful brain cells. But stick with me.)

Now, this isn’t meant to be a punchline. I don’t mean that your wedding was the “death” of your single life or anything else my husband would be laughing about right now. I just mean that these two events are very closely related. Let’s examine the facts:

1. There are flowers
2. Everyone you know is there (and some people you don’t)
3. People bring cards with money in them
4. Your mother-in-law is dressed in black

Well…maybe that was just my wedding.

The main thing I’ve noticed is that, just as weddings are very rarely actually about the blissful couple, funerals are very rarely about the deceased. We all usually have (at both events) someone dictating how things should go. And most of the time, both events leave us thinking, “How did that flower arrangement end up there??? That’s the tackiest damn thing I’ve ever seen.”

Unless you were a “Bridezilla” who was able to tell off every relative you know, using your purple speaker phone, while weaving through traffic in a town of about 100 people, yelling every expletive you probably had at least one portion of your wedding that was influenced by the opinions of others.

(I’m embarrassed to say I’m addicted to that show. I really need to find a hobby.)

Maybe we need to come up with a “Widowzilla” show with someone who yells at people when they bring a sympathy card she’s already seen 15 times, throws a platter of supermarket fried chicken across the front yard, and tells her in-laws and distant relatives that if they don’t sing every word of the song she picked out for the funeral, they will no longer be a part of her family.

I think I’m onto something here.


How many of you actually did what you wanted for the funeral? Have you even thought of what that would be? I have. You know why? Because all of the funerals I’ve attended since my husband died have left me thinking, “Now, why didn’t I do that?”

Just like my wedding.

Why are we so damned polite? Why do we do things to appease other people when we, in our hearts, know what our spouses would actually want?

Because…unfortunately…funerals are not as much about the person who is gone as they are about the people who are left behind to deal with it.

Everyone thinks they know your spouse better than you do. That guy who used to ride tricycles with your husband when they were 5 years old? He’s got an opinion about this. Your in-laws, who were never as close to your wife as they would like to think? Here’s their 2 cents. The people who you are paying to run the show? They have a pretty good idea of what “needs” to be done.

Those of you who were the “Widowzillas”…frankly…I applaud you. I talk a good game now, 3 years after my husband passed, about what people should do when they’re losing a loved one. “Stand up to them!” I say. “Do what your spouse would have wanted!”

But the truth is (and this will sound not very "Widow Chick" of me)…sometimes it’s better to just let them have their say. Let the whole public memorial be about them. And then do what your spouse would have wanted you to do. In private.

Because…just like your wedding…your most intimate moment didn’t happen when everyone else was there. It happened when no one else was looking.


  1. Nice and thought provoking...I think for the most part we had what he would have wanted in a funeral, fun memories and laughter followed by a BBQ with LOTS of adult beverages. I did let it have a little religion, not what he would have liked, but that was for my MIL's sake. She's very religious and I wanted to respect that, but I think we had a good balance (now if you ask her you might get another answer). Same thing goes for our wedding I guess, now that I think about it:)

  2. widow chick,
    My husband and I was told he had between 6 to 12 months to live, we both sat down and plan the nitty gritty of what sort of funeral and Thanks Giving Service he would want including the Hymns.
    When the Funeral Director arrived to discuss the details of cremation or burial, He opted for cremation, then told the guy he had cedar planks under the house would it be possible for him to make his own 'box' and will that make it any
    During this period he took time to write 'A Final Roundup" informing relatives and friends of his forthcoming demise, which prove to be a great help as I did not have to repeat nor write what was happening in our neck of the woods.
    Due to being upfront with his Cancer, the positive responses he received was an inspiriation and humble experience to us both.
    Sadly, he did not survive even a month, just 3 weeks....sigh.
    At the Thanks Giving, we prepared the service the way we wanted, simple and meaningful, at the end we knew the service was about his life from begining to the end...what a memorable send off....

    There is no comparision between marriage and funeral, We had a small wedding the way we wanted 33 years ago, with no fuss and only relatives and friends.

    When one marries, our dreams of life together commences, challenges to over come, happiness and heartache are thrown from near and far, through the passage of time we become bonded with a deeper love and understanding of one another's need and wants, able to give and take thus enduring a fruitful and lasting relationship.

    With the death of one's spouse, ..... with help from the Lord we are really not alone.

    Widow Chick, thank you for your blog you are an inspiration, giving us food for thought.

    jessie w.

  3. I never thought about it before, I just did what I felt my late husband would have wanted. We had discussed very minor details, but nothing set in writing.
    I did everything I wanted for him, like Buffey J, I did not ask my MIL for her suggestions. I went with a cousin and did everything that my late husband would have liked. From the casket to where he was buried (close to his father). I really didn't give anyone a chance to tell me how or what to do. I chose the color of the casket, my duaghter put together the music to be played, I picked out his clothes, I TOOK CONTROL! Something that I hadn't had while he was in the hospital. I felt this was my way of saying I'm still his wife and it's "OUR" decision.
    I really wish people would allow those that are suppose to be in charge, to take control and if they are asked to help then so be it.

  4. Thanks, WC. Well said. Our wedding was exactly how we wanted it. His funeral was exactly how he would have wanted it and how I wanted it. I had several people try to put in their "two cents" about how the wake, funeral, and graveside service should have been. I ignored them and did it my way. I don't care if I offended anyone. If they were, too bad!