#374 Laughs at a funeral

We’re all going down.

People, it’s sad but it’s true: nothing’s gonna stop your big final drop. So live it up now, live it up large, because at the end of the day you aren’t really in charge. Look, we’re not spinning, gninnips, spinning on this wet rock for long, so let’s all enjoy singing our songs with big days full of belly laughs, loving moments, and late nights with close friends.

One day you will have a funeral.

Now, none of us want it to happen but we all know it will. Stuffed in a suit, buried in a box, you’ll burn to ashes, walk through pearly gates, chill underground, or maybe reincarnate. Point is, your life as you know it will end with red eyes, wet tissues, and tearful speeches filling churches or homes or big grassy fields.

One day you will have a funeral.

But wait — but wait, wait, wait — because before we get way out there let’s stop for a moment and look at your life. Look at gurgling babies in the bedroom, sultry glances late at night, and cracking high fives with friends… look at skinny dipping after dark, swinging under moonlight in the park, and coming home after school to your puppy’s little barks…

Yes, your life’s full of dirty inside jokes, laughing till it hurts, and smiling so hard till the end.

So one day you may have a funeral in a heavy room full of black clothes, somber glances, and heart-wrenching moments of gut-wrenching grief, but … maybe if you’re lucky there will also be some lighter moments too. Maybe there will be someĀ  little jokes, funny anecdotes, and silly smiles shining through the pain.

Laughs at a funeral cut the tension, bring us closer together, and remind us all of the big banging life we shared with you. They slice through the searing weight of your loss and swirl us into smiling about everything we had together while reminding us we’ll all be okay …

AWESOME!

Photos from: here, here, and here

71 Comments

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71 responses to “#374 Laughs at a funeral

  1. Laura

    I would have NEVER thought to include this, but I know that I’ve thought it; just a few weeks ago, in fact, at my aunt’s funeral.

    “How awesome to be able to smile/laugh/joke at such a time … ”

    My dad always tells us that if we don’t have a party with good music, good food, and good friends for his funeral, if/when we meet again, he’ll give us what-for.

    This is a good sad-happy one.

  2. April

    My family has had quite a few shocking and unexpected deaths these past 2 years. It seems like everytime we almost get over someone, we lose someone else. But even in our grief we can sit and share our favorite “remember the time they…” story. And for a minute that person is there with us. My cousin was found yesterday. She was 20 yrs old and @ 4 months pregnant. I hope someone will be able to tell a happy story.

    • Patty

      Sweetie, as time goes on, you will remember many, many happy stories, and be able to laugh at them. Right now, think of how happy she was when she found out she was pregnant and KNOW she and her baby are together. There is a certain solice in that, I think! I’m so sorry for your loss.

  3. one of my favorite posts of all time
    I’m sorry for your loss April, I’m thinking about you (hope that’s net creepy or anything :))

  4. Colleen

    It is often through telling funny/goofy stories at funerals that we honour our loved ones the most–we are celebrating their LIFE, as opposed to mourning their death.
    I’m the big talker in our family, so I’ve had to do two eulogies so far, because no one else felt strong enough or brave enough to speak to a full room; my first was at the age of 28. Both times, I wanted to think of a few funny stories to remember the people I loved, and it helped to keep me from crying while I had to speak.

  5. This got me (and my family) through my Grandma’s funeral two months ago. VERY awesome indeed. I miss her, but the memories will remain awesome.

  6. jus

    I really like this post. Less than a month ago, my grandfather passed away and it was the hardest thing I gone through. But I was asked by my mom to say something about him at the wake and since i know my grandpa didn’t want us to sad, I shared a few funny memories with everyone that got a few laughs and know he was having a chuckle too watching over us.

  7. Steph

    I hope my funerals a riot to be at. My only wish is that people will come home feeling freed of grief, full of life, and thinking “man that was the best funeral ever”. I want catchy, happy songs (Mr. Blue Sky anyone?) and funny stories. Tears of grief to be turned to tears of laughter. That would make me one really happy dead person, rolling in my grave in laughter. :)

  8. When my grandmother died, she had told all of her children to throw a party, not have a funeral. And they did – music, laughing and a lot of dancing.

    I’ve even written my own obit – and it is SILLY and fun.

    Death is only a parting for a little while – not a good-bye, but a see-you-later.

    • AA

      That is pretty awesome.

      I wouldn’t have thought of this as a post for this site, in fact it might have even made me less cheerful. But I know that, if anyone could have been a fly in my families limo at my grandmother’s funeral, they would have thought we were on our way to prom. She was such a funny strong person, I cried all the way to the grave site, from laughing too hard. After that, the rest of the day felt like a family party in her honour.

      If I am blessed enough to have kids before I die, I’m going to tell them the same thing your grandma told her kids :)

  9. T

    Hooooly crap, the timing of this!!!

    This weekend was the funeral for a friend who died much too young and was very, very shocking.

    By the end we were laughing heartily at the good times we shared and I know Nick would want his funeral to be like that….still cannot believe the timing of this post!!!!!!!

    R.I.P. Nick Carr AKA Nicky Gents

  10. C

    My mother always told me that she wanted a bright pink coffin, and as they were lowering her into the ground to play “Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead”. I’m sure when she does pass, the funeral will be one to remember~

  11. Dorothy

    Laughter is such a release during stressful times, it’s sort of like a pat on the back that everything will be okay.

    A pastor at a funeral I attended a while back likened our bodies to a tent. My ears perked, and out of the corner of my eye I could see my sister and daughters, a look of “what the heck?” I told myself not to look at them or I’d lose it.

    Well, he continued to explain that, our bodies are temporary, like a tent, and “so-and-so’s” tent collapsed, but he was up in Heaven now, pitching a new one! And he kept on and on about tents and the more he talked about tents, the more we struggled not to bust a gut. We still laugh about that day. I hope when I die, someone will look back at my memorial and be able to laugh as well.

    • jdurley

      What’s up with pastors? At my wedding our pastor likened a marriage to a bank. The “Love Bank”. I think his point was that if you expect to keep withdrawing love from the bank, you better also be making some deposits into it.

      Ya, so for about 3 years after that, our friends kept asking us if we’d been making enough “deposits” (nudge nudge) into the “love bank” (wink wink).

      • Freddo

        blah blah avoiding making gross comment about “withdrawals” (wink, wink) blah blah..

      • Katherine

        I think that’s cos there’s a fairly famous marriage book that talks about the concept of a Love Bank. Makes a lot of sense when you read it. However, never thought about it in the wink wink nudge nudge sense before!

    • Dorothy

      Also, seeing how my name is Dorothy and I’m a huge Wizard of Oz fan, it’s ozsome…er…AWESOME my post comes right after the one about “Ding-dong The Witch Dead!”

  12. simone

    definatly my favourite.. :)

    r.i.p uncle mario..

  13. It is always nice to be able to remember them as they were not as they are. It is a really sad occasion, but being able to smile at the good times that was had with this person is awesome.

  14. mrshibby

    very touching post! thereĀ“s so much truth in it…

  15. Mihaela

    My grandfather passed away last Sunday. One is never ready to give up a loved person, despite him being old and sick. We cried, we talked about great moments together and even laughed a few times. Never thought I would loose him, but I feel he gave us all strength to move on, as he enjoyed every single moment of his life and was a very positive man.
    I miss him

  16. My mum died earlier this year and although the thought of laughing at the time seemed just plain wrong, I do agree that sharing something funny when your world has been turned upside down is one of the greatest gifts for those in the pits of mourning. It gives a little glimmer of hope that life is still good, that things will get better.

  17. Megm87

    Today is a memorial service for my Nana and Papa – they both passed away this year.

    These Awesome Things are so serendipitous. How else can you explain this brilliant, gut-wrenching, memorably beautiful post? Thank you for reminding me to smile today and laugh at the good times.

    Truly awesome!

  18. Karen

    SO true!

    Many years ago my teenage cousin was killed in a car accident. It was awful. The funeral was full of shocked, weeping friends and family. In a very dramatic moment, my elderly grandmother was wheeled up to the coffin and family gathered around behind her, sniffling and watching to see if she’d handle it okay. Grandma shakily announced that she’d like to us all to say a prayer, and began: “Bless us O Lord, and these thy gifts…” – the Prayer Before Meals, apparently the first prayer that sprang to mind! She went all the way through without realizing, while the rest of us fought madly to stifle our giggles. I don’t think Grandma ever knew, but it was exactly what we all needed at that time. I’ve no doubt at all that my cousin was giggling along with us from above.

  19. I wasn’t at the funeral, but when my cousin died in his 20’s, his brother’s few month old baby laughed at a very quiet and heavy moment, and I hear it was just what everyone needed.

  20. I’m from New Orleans. We laugh, cry, drink & dance at funerals. And we wou;dn’t want it any other way.

  21. This really hits home for me. My grandma passed away this April at only eighty-four years young and I was devastated and depressed all summer. But, after reading this, going back to school and starting my life ‘anew’ again, I’ve realized that it is possible for things to pick up, for me to bounce back and live my life the way my “Lola” would have wanted me to. Thanks for this, I feel a whole lot better :)

  22. MissTyrious

    I totally want people to laugh at my funeral about all these silly things I did in life :)

  23. Mere

    we buried my nephew at only 9 short years of age,and i will always remember the pastor sitting the kids of the family down the day before the funeral to talk to them about what the funeral would be like-he told them ‘ Your mums and dads and you are going to cry tomorrow, but sometimes you will laugh as well when we talk about the funny things that Sam did. That’s good, laughing is ok and crying is ok because they are both a part of remembering how much we love Sam”.
    I remember that day as one of the worst of my life, but i am thankful to the pastor for giving us all permission to laugh through our tears.

  24. Connie

    My younger brother died last month. He was 53. After making arrangements with the funeral home, we all had our assigned duties. My sister-in-law and I were to pick out the clothes for my brother. We went to his house and grabbed suits and shirts out of 3 closets. An hour before the wake, his friend, Al, who staying at his house called and said “Who took my clothes?” The suit we had picked out was Al’s. My brother was buried in a suit that was too big for him but it made a great story. ‘Al would give you the shirt off his back’ was the tagline of the day.

  25. Terri

    To chime in here,

    I never would have thought of this as an awesome thing, but it took me back to my dad’s funeral. We played Jimmy Buffett and shared pictures and funny stories. It made me remember all the wonderful things about my dad. That was five and a half years ago. I still miss him.

    Thanks for the reminder. Keep doing what you’re doing, love the blog. (:

  26. cassa

    I’m terrible for laughing at funerals; some of it may be stress, but often it’s from the stories that have been told about the deceased and their lives.

    I find those moments of being able to laugh at a story or memory of someone adds some light to a very dark time.

  27. Amanda

    When my Papa died last year we all cried at the funeral mass and burial; but when all my aunts and uncles and cousins and and extended everything gathered at my aunt’s house, it was like a huge party and everyone was laughing and joking and it was the strangest thing but felt right at the time. In hindsight, it made the whole day easier.

  28. Kelly M.

    Dear 1000 Awesome Things,
    I don’t know how you knew, but this made my week, my semester, my life much much better.
    Very Truly Yours,
    Kelly M.

  29. My uncle Dan died unexpectedly in August. I didn’t get to see him much, but he always had a joke or a funny story to tell, and he loved playing pranks on people, especially at work (he was an airport security guard– that must’ve been entertaining). At his funeral, his youngest son (he’s in his early 20s) got up to give a eulogy. He started it with a joke about Chihuahuas that Uncle Dan used to tell all the time. It was a nice moment in an otherwise sad day. Thanks for posting this; can it be in the Book of Awesome 2 please?

  30. Megan

    One of my favorites…

  31. My dad’s always said I’m not allowed to wear to wear black to his funeral. He wants me to wear something bright and orange, because I look happy in orange, and he wants me to be happy for the time I had with him, not sad because he’s gone.

  32. Meaghan

    This honestly made my night. I can’t thank you enough for cheering me up. Love your website <3

  33. lekki

    My Dad passed away from Alzheimers last year. My sister and I gave the eulogy; it took at least half an hour with the two of us taking turns from our script. We told nearly every funny story we knew about Dad’s life from his childhood right up to a particularly funny Alzheimers “incident” when he’d chatted away to himself in a full length mirror when buying shoes…thinking that the other guy looked a bit familiar! (he laughed too at the time). We had some serious, somber parts to the eulogy too but they were nicley balanced with the humourous ones. The celebrant told us that we knew how to put the “fun” in funerals. After we spoke some of Dad’s friends stood and told their own stories. It was a fine celebration of a life well-lived. Alzheimers is a horrid disease and I truely believe that Dad’s passing was a release because he had not been the man he was for a long time before he died. Since the funeral I’ve added to the eulogy and want to get it printed for all the family to preserve tha happy memories of our father and grandfather. Thanks for the blog entry.

    • Matilda

      lekki, that’s such a nice idea… my dad suffers from Parkinson and dementia and while I’m hoping that he’ll still jump about for at least another 10 years I hope I remember to include some funny stories of my dad at his funeral, there are plenty ;-)

      I remember when my grandmother died last year… the men were supposed to throw in some ground soil (onto the coffin that had already been lowered into the ground) and the women the flowers they brought. When it was my turn I threw in the soggy tissues I had clutched in my hand and kept the flowers by mistake. We all looked at each other and burst out laughing. It was quite a relief!

      • lekki

        That’s so funny, I can envisage it happening. We often seem to have really good laughs at these sad times; I guess our emotions are so close to the surface that the laughter just bubbles out. The laughter is just what is needed too ;)

    • jdurley

      What a wonderful way to honour your Dad. I hope you do get the eulogy printed – it will become a very meaningful way for you (and many others) to remember him – not just how he was at the end, which can overwhelm our memories of happier times.

      (I know this from experience.) My thoughts are with you and I’m very sorry for your loss.

      • lekki

        thank you so much for your kind words. I must get it finished and printed soon. There are lots of photos to put in and I think that’s the hurdle I need to overcome

  34. Lizzie

    this was the case at a funeral i was at earlier this year, of a family friend’s brother. at the end of the funeral, the lady sat down on a chair and my other family friends and i gathered around consoling her. all of a sudden, the lady’s sister comes along and lets the cat out the bag with the news that the lady is pregnant! i felt it was bad timing on her part, but the lady couldnt help but repress a smile as we all gathered around her feeling unsure of whether to be happy or sad! though in the end, we all happily congratulated her on her pregnancy :)

  35. Paige

    I had to go to two funerals this past summer for two of my good friends. It was rough, and excruciatingly sad.

    I have to admit, at each of their funerals everyone laughed at least once, and it made it that much better, sort of a “yeah, every thing will be okay” moment.

    AWESOME :)

  36. cassa

    I want one of these caskets when my time comes: http://tinyurl.com/rtscsk

  37. Freddo

    Neil – this isn’t the first time your blog has made me cry.. and I know it won’t be the last.. but great, great, great post..

    Also, your sentiments about making sure we make the most of every day we’ve got here (and appreciating the moments we have with those around us) always give me a little charge, to make sure that I’m doing just that.. because you’re so right – our time here is all to fleeting. We can’t let it pass us by.

    • Laura

      You’re right; many of the things are silly, nostalgic, and fun, but then there are these sincere and emotion-evoking ones that really make us think/appreciate/FEEL. Such a good one.

      P.S. I guess you used your manly one-cry-per-month for November … ;)

  38. Jill

    This is may be my favorite post on this blog. My grandfather died on November 14, the day before this was posted. But, on the day this was posted, my whole family (his eight children and their spouses plus all of his grandchildren) gathered at my house to recount all of our memories of him and his life. And there were some tears, but mostly laughter. The timing of this post is a little creepy for me, but thank you for cheering me up for a short time during this difficult time.

  39. Sellie

    I loved this post, and I loved reading everyone’s laughing-through-the-tears stories. They were truely heart warming and inspired some nostalgic reflection on the people I have lost recently.

  40. 100%. Belly-laughed through the tears (which caused laughter tears, too) at my grandpa’s funeral. I really felt like I was paying homage at that point, because he would have appreciated the joke as much as everyone else there did…

  41. Gail

    My salsa teacher Lee Wright was killed in a car accident 2 years ago, just 2 days after his 24th birthday. It was a tragic loss felt by everyone from his closest friends and family right through to those of us who were amongst the thousands of people he’d taught. He was warm, funny, outrageously gay and made you feel amazing.

    And his funeral was a day filled with tears and laughter in equal measure. We were devastated that he was gone, but watching all the videos and listening to the anecdotes from the people who knew him best, we couldn’t help but giggle. Ask any girl he’s ever danced with, and they’ll tell you that at some time or another he’s pinged open the back of their bra or licked their face (and got away with it!). There are more photos of him dressed as a woman than I care to mention. He was full of compliments and had a favourite something about everyone (in my case, it was my sparkly green eyeliner).

    I am so glad that I knew him, even if only for a little while and I am smiling just typing this. :)

  42. frank

    At a funeral the wife of the man that died said, “well he was always complaining that he couldnt here any thing, so old man, we are leaving your casket open so you can hear…”=Awsome

  43. Patty

    When my dad died, it was as awful as one can imagine. However, as we were driving (his car) to the cemetary (six of us crammed into the car) someone said ‘remember when……, which led to someone else ‘yeah, and don’t forget when he……” You get the picture! By the time we arrived at the cemetary, and rolled out of that car, we (in the lead car) were laughing so hard, we could hardly stand. My dad was a very funny man who taught us many things, and the best thing he taught us was humor! So a terrible event and the week preceeding it, for one moment (actually about 5 minutes) gave us new meaning to comic relief. So much regret, sadness, sorrow, washed away, if only for 5 minutes, with 6 adults laughing like complete fools at their father’s funeral! He would have loved it! We miss you a lot, Dad!

  44. Emma

    My best friend is a Funeral Director & Embalmer… I always tell her she would put the Fun in Funeral, and I’ve told her there is to be no crying at my Fun’eral only laughter :) death is death nothing you can do about it… so you may as well make the best of it, and through one last kick ass party for your friends :)

  45. ruscha

    this is quite possibly my favorite feeling in the world. i went to a funeral of a friend who during his short life made tons of short films, and we watched them all. crying and laughing at the same time with a huge group of people is like emotional cleansing.

  46. anna

    Janis Joplin left $2500 in her will for her friends and family to throw a big party after she was gone.

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  49. wendywithaurora

    Amen.

  50. Michelle C

    At my mom’s funereal back in 1995, at her request, we did the “Chicken Dance”. She was the first one on the dance floor at everyone’s wedding and wanted it to be played at her funereal. It had everyone laughing and crying all at the same time, but oh boy…we could feel her with us.

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