General Question

Cupcake's avatar

Can you help me decide whether to go to a very large funeral?

Asked by Cupcake (11763 points ) December 27th, 2012

The wife of a police lieutenant/firefighter killed on Christmas Eve morning is a friend of my family. Actually our parents are very good friends. I care about her very much and initially planned on going to the funeral. However, according to a group on facebook, funeral attendee estimates are currently around 10,000 people.

1. I can’t even imagine the logistics of such a crowd. I would imagine having to show up very early to be able to be seated indoors.
2. I doubt very much that I would be able to see, let alone interact, with the wife.

I feel a slight sense of obligation… but mostly I feel completely overwhelmed by the prospect. Can you help me figure out if I should go?

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24 Answers

Judi's avatar

This will probably be televised in your community if it’s such a large crowd won’t it? I would send a very heartfelt letter and watch it on TV at home or listen on the radio.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

I think you should go. Maybe go early as you suggested. It will really help you. and maybe there will be special seating for friends and family. Then you have no regrets.

pleiades's avatar

It’s ok. Don’t feel bad. If you think about it, others might be feeling the same way you do. The pressure will be worth it. You get to say your good byes.

Bellatrix's avatar

Do you feel you need to go? I believe funerals are for the living. If it is unlikely you will be able to speak to the wife, and you are only going because of a feeling of obligation, I wouldn’t. If you need to go to say goodbye yourself, do go. I agree with @judi, a heartfelt letter and perhaps a visit when things calm down makes more sense than being another face amongst 10,000 people.

dabbler's avatar

If there really are that many people at the funeral the family will be even more stunned than people usually are, and might not even really register that you are in front of them.

See if you can communicate with the family separately. If they indicate they would like to see you at the funeral then by all means go.

marinelife's avatar

Call the funeral home and see if there are any arrangements to seat those who actually know the family.

wundayatta's avatar

I think you will want to be there. Do as @marinelife suggested to see if there are special arrangements for those who actually know the family.

Cupcake's avatar

It’s at a school. I think I would have to ask the family about seating – I don’t know who else I could ask.

Coloma's avatar

I most likely would not attend. I would opt for another expression of my condolences.
I agree that being such a huge and informal “event”, literally, that I would have no desire to be part of the teeming masses.

creative1's avatar

Show up early and sit inside, you don’t have to stay for the full service but just attending would keep you from feeling guilty if something was ever brought up about the funeral by the wife.

dabbler's avatar

@Coloma “another expression of my condolences”, totally.

But, if my presence is requested by people who matter to me, and they aren’t saying that to everyone they talk to…, I’ll feel pretty motivated to oblige, and probably already wanted to be there with them.
Just throwin’ this out there as an option: Respond to an invitation right away by gently asking for specifics about seeing them at the event, to flesh out if it’s going to be possible to do that with a crowd as predicted.
Maybe they will put you on “the list”. Maybe your car gets to go in the procession and gets parking, and you will get a chair. And your dear ones want you there to help soak up the stare of the cameras, to ride the emotional rapids in the raft with them.

But if they don’t bring it up, that former option to make a personal communication of a different sort seems very appealing to me.
A sister of mine, more often than not, has taken the opportunity to respectfully and thoughtfully beg out but with a clear communication of her love and intent while doing so. I admire the emotional clarity of that.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Just what marinelife suggested. Call and see if there are arrangements for family and friends. Go if there are.

josie's avatar

I really have nothing flattering to say to people who imagine that they are too special to attend a funeral. The dead will never know, but the living might gain some support from your presence. Plus, funerals give everybody a chance to say that it is over, in order that the survivors do not have to endure endless expressions of condolences long after they have made their peace with the whims of fate and the loss of their loved one. Shame on anybody who thinks that funerals are simply too great a bother toward which they would grace their sacred precious time and presence. But the shame is yours to bear. If it doesn’t bother you, then nothing I say will matter anyway. So why ask the question?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Guys this is the funeral for the Webster firefighters killed by the gunman on Christmas Eve. This is going to be a circus. 10000 people? You think, unless there are special accomodations anyone is going to notice Cupcake? Easy guys, it’s not an easy call.

josie's avatar

…a friend of my family. Actually our parents are very good friends. I care about her very much…
What more do you want?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@josieGotcha. But I see her point too. If she’s one of 10000 standing outside it really isn’t going to have any affect. I’d go to the house after the ceremony.

Bellatrix's avatar

I don’t think this is going to be a normal funeral. The likelihood is, as @Adirondackwannabe suggests, it is going to be a circus. Unless she can be seated inside and is sure she can speak to the family, they won’t even know she showed up. Plus, in a few weeks, many of the well wishers will have dropped off. If she shows up then to take the woman shopping, to babysit while she has some time to herself, I think it will be very, if not more, valuable than being one of 10,000.

hearkat's avatar

In such cases, I always had the impression that those who are personally connected to the deceased and their family have different access then the public, and there is a list. If you are really that close to the widow, you’d be on that list. Are your parents going? Perhaps they could contact the widow’s parents and make an inquiry on your behalf, if you really want to go, but have fallen out of touch with the widow? If you can be included in the more private part of the service, then go; if they are unable to include you on the list, then you will not likely see the widow on that day, so don’t feel bad for avoiding the crowd.

rojo's avatar

Go to the viewing, skip the funeral.

susanc's avatar

Why do **you** have to be seated indoors?
This is not for you.
This is for them.

JLeslie's avatar

If you do not feel the need to be there to mourn, then I think it is fine not to go if you feel it will be chaotic and frustrating. You said your parents are very friendly, so I am assuming the mourners are not really relying on you to be there for support, that close family members and friends will be there, along with a lot of people from the community.

However, if you feel like you want to or should go if only there would be fewer people in attendance, then I think you should seriously consider going. It sounds like there will be plans to handle the crowds. You just have to be prepared to be patient. You can always bail at any point, but will have made an appearance.

I think @hearkat gave a very good answer.

Shippy's avatar

I hate funerals who doesnt. I avoid them at all costs. But if you are close to her, would you be going to lend support to her? How many people would be there that are close to her. How much would you be missed? Those are the types of questions I’d ask myself. I hate to say it but often people talk about the people who didn’t come. But that is really depending on how close you are. I do believe though people should have choice, I guess my answer didn’t help much.

Response moderated (Spam)
Judi's avatar

@josie , I don’t think the OP thinks that she is “To special” to attend.
A pillar of my community died and I didn’t attend because I felt that most of the people were just going to be looky Lou’s and it was going to be more of a country club “see and be seen” event than I was comfortable with. I knew the widow, but not well enough to be considered family so I sent her a long letter expressing my condolences and encouraging her. (We went to the same church.)
I am sure that letter, which she could read at her leisure, meant more to her than my presence at the memorial.
With only a few exceptions, I can tell you that I don’t really know who attended my first husbands funeral. I was to numb to notice and my priority was caring for my children. I wouldn’t hold it against anyone for not showing up.

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