The Rite of the Funeral Parlor

Last evening, Eyegal and I stood in the receiving line of a local funeral parlor to pay our respects to the family of a man who suddenly died this past weekend. He was a great-grandfather, full of years, and a pillar to his family and community.

We arrived a couple of minutes before the visitation was to start and the receiving line already wound its way through the chapel and stretched out the door into the lobby, snaking its way through the narrow hallway past several other viewing rooms, the water fountain and the bathrooms, all the way to the casket display area.

Apparently, in the Deep South, “fashionably late” does not apply to funeral home visitations.

We waited well over an hour in line before we met with the family, and while it was a little hard on the feet and lower back, it really didn’t seem much of a burden at all since we and everyone else there were so busy visiting with each other. All the people who you’ve “been meaning to call and check up on” or “have lunch with soon” were there. The majority of folks there had some connection with one of two large Churches of Christ in town. In fact, many of them had gone to church with each other until 1979 when the church split over a “Crossroads” controversy or some such.

But as we’ve noticed over the years, the people from these two churches, regardless of whatever feelings they may have over all that spilled milk, always set their differences aside when someone dies and have themselves a regular party.

This is odd, of course, but strangely comforting. It did make me wonder how well all of us might get along if we actually made an effort to get together in some other venue besides a funeral home.

The Rite of the Funeral Parlor–it brings ’em together when nothing else can.

  1. Brady

    Not one of my favorite places to hang out, but one of your favorite books in the Book says something about it being better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting; for it’s how we all end up, and those who are still alive have something to think about (or something like that).

    We should be gracious to each other when (and before) death comes. That common enemy helps us hold close to those still on this side…

  2. Mike the Eyeguy


    Are all your sermons that short? If so, sign me up for a membership with your church. I think I would enjoy the scenery and soccer over there as well.

  3. Brady

    Sorry. They’re about twice that long…

  4. Mike the Eyeguy

    That’s okay. I could handle twice that long because that would still be several hundred times less than what I’m used to.

  5. Stoogelover

    Yes, funerals bring people together when nothing else will. When my father-in-law died, the viewing was on a Wednesday evening, which presented a HUGE problem for all those coC people who were trying to decide whether to go see the family (he was a very popular, well loved coC preacher for decades) or attend the Wednesday night service. We estimated at least 1,500 people came by this tiny funeral home in Loretto, Tennessee and stood in line for hours just to spend about 30 seconds with Nana and her girls.

  6. Brady

    Great to have you in the assembly, brother.

    A pledge card is in the mail…

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