General Question

Theby's avatar

Would you be angry if a friend didn't go to her friend's funeral because of her religious belief?

Asked by Theby (998 points ) March 14th, 2010

I didn’t go to my friend’s Catholic funeral because it is against my religious belief. My other friend (who does not know the friend who died) got angry with me and this has put strain on our friendship. Do you think she had just reason to do this?

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89 Answers

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Why kind of religion do you belong to that it doesn’t support mourning the dead and paying respects to the family for their loss?

Or are you saying that your religion is anti-Catholic, which is akin to being biggoted?

Sorry to be a hard-ass, but my best friend in high school was not “allowed” to be in my wedding because I was Catholic; she was 24 at the time, and married to a part-time Baptist minister. She could come to my reception but not the service. I was in her wedding, and it was really important to me that she be there. It’s not the religion that denies association with Catholics but narrow minded church leadership.

marinelife's avatar

What is your religious belief that going to a Catholic funeral was against it?

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

She shouldn’t be concerned with your choice.

FutureMemory's avatar

Why would any religion forbid one to pay their last respects? Sorry but that is pathetic.

TheLoneMonk's avatar

Did this religious belief stop you from attending the wake? Usually attending the wake precludes you from having to go to the funeral. That said, what does your friend care for? None of her bees wax.

CMaz's avatar

I have never been preached at during a funeral.

It does not matter. Unless you need to smoke some ganja. And that you can do outside.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I should add the caveat that you really are under no obligation to go to a funeral if you were not close to the person. It is good manners to do so, if you can. It is not good manners to use religious bigotry as an excuse for not going to a funeral.

marinelife's avatar

@Theby OK, but I wanted to determine if it was, in fact, a tenet of your faith that you not attend services in a Catholic church.

It depends on what else you did. Did you write to your friend’s family in advance expressing your condolences and letting them know you could not attend the funeral?

Your friend may have some reason to be upset with this. Maybe she has experienced a recent death and the thought of you not attending the funeral was very upsetting to her.

I think you guys might be able to work this out if you discuss it openly. I am not going to jump on the bandwagon of condemning your friend’d attitude without knowing more information.

Just_Justine's avatar

I don’t believe in funerals full stop. I also do not believe in organized religion. However, the real issue to my mind is the support people expect at a funeral. I say this with mixed feelings. I have a friend who doesn’t “do” funerals. Meaning she steers clear of them. I did not have a funeral nor a service for my mother. Who died recently. I loved her very dearly too. I just think funerals are money making rackets. Like anything else. A funeral is supposed to be to pay your last respects to a person who is dead anyway. I do believe funerals are more for the “living” like a ritual in order to assimilate this information.

If you stayed away because of your belief systems, I would ask “Do you care about your friends?”. As it is really all about them. Not about you. If you stayed away because funerals are for the most part a load of tripe, then you are entitled to stay away. But be supportive? That is what friends are for.

MrItty's avatar

With all due respect to your loss – your friend is dead. She doesn’t care if you’re there or not. I’ve never understood the concept of funerals being to “pay respect” to the deceased. The time to pay respect to someone is while they’re still alive. Funerals aren’t for the person who died. They’re for the people who feel the need to attend. If you don’t, that’s your concern, no one else’s.

john65pennington's avatar

You were wrong. religious beliefs have nothing to do with a persons death and their funeral. its not the religious belief thats important, its showing respect for the person, their family and your friend. you should have gone. your friend is correct in being upset with you.

MrItty's avatar

That being said, however, “because my religion forbids it” is a coward’s answer. I’ve never in my life met a religious person who follows every single tenant of their religion without exception. Unless you do, you don’t get to pick and choose which ones to follow based on your own desires and blame your chocies on “your religion”. Not going to the funeral was your choice, nothing more. Be an adult and admit it.

CMaz's avatar

Then don’t pray. Be silent, pray to your god. It is just about respect and no one will fault you for that.

You call this person a “friend.” Show respect or don’t go. I think your friend will understand.

And those who don’t can go to hell.

Judi's avatar

Life is to short to be angry. Different people mourn differently. Embrace the living. There is no time for bitterness between friends.

_Jade_'s avatar

If her beliefs were so different that you could not show respect by attending her funeral, how could you call her “friend” in the first place? You do not have to convert or even participate in the “religious” aspects of the service, so your refusal to attend really shows what kind of value you put on her friendship. The fact that your beliefs did not “interfere” with the friendship, but does not allow you to participate in saying farewell at a funeral service, SCREAMS hypocrisy.

john65pennington's avatar

You did not tell us the deceased person had no family here. this could make a big difference in everyones answer.

JLeslie's avatar

I would not be angry, but I would be curious as some others are above, what religion you are and why you can’t go. I think in Judaism (I’m Jewish) technically, Jews are not supposed to go into places of worship of other religions, please correct me anyone if I am wrong. So, I guess this could be stretched to not attending ceremonies that are led by clergy of other faiths? So, I guess it is not impossible for a religion to not let its followers attend a funeral? Just theorizing.

Anyway, again, I would not be angry, but I would probably look for consistency in how you practice your religion if that is your reasons for not going.

netgrrl's avatar

I’m another person who simply doesn’t do funerals. When I do go, my decision is based not so much on my relationship with the deceased (who either doesn’t know, care, or understands all things now), but with the family or friends in mourning. I think your friend is out of line – it’s a personal decision.

CMaz's avatar

I won’t go if there is no food after. ;-)

And I am God, I encompass all religions.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Religion or no religion, you go to the funeral to support friends and family. If you can’t make it for any reason you say I am sorry I couldn’t not make it.
By the way, all religion germs you pick up by going to another house of worship get washed off during your next shower. I’m sure that is written in some book somewhere.
I shower daily just to make sure.

Trillian's avatar

I’m still curious to find out what the hell religion forbids going to a funeral.
Don’t go, I don’t care. But I agree that it’s a cowardly excuse. It’s your decision and you don’t owe anybody an explanation. Why puss out and blame your religion?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I wouldn’t be angry but I’d judge you – if you can’t get beyond this kind of socialized crap to go pay respect to someone who (thankfully) no longer has to deal with it then I don’t know. Death is above our beliefs.

phillis's avatar

Besides the practical aspects, funerals aren’t for the dead, they are for the living. It’s a step in the closure process. Losing someone you love is a terrible, painful blow. It is a good friend who can stand beside their grieving friend during such pain. A funeral has nothing to do with your own religious beliefs, nor do they seek to convert everyone in attendance. I respect your decision to remain devoted to your beliefs, and would have preferred there be more balance in your decision. It wasn’t just about you. There was someone else who had valid needs, too, and deserved your presence.

Silhouette's avatar

No, I’d be annoyed if they used religion as an excuse not to attend. I’d feel like it was a lame cop out.

filmfann's avatar

When my Mom was sick in the hospital, one of my nephews did not come see her. He said he couldn’t deal with her illness. When she died, he came to the funeral, but his sister, who did visit her in the hospital, said she couldn’t deal with the funeral, so she skipped it.
I hold no ill will against either. You do what you do.
I have been to funerals that were for people of religions other than my own. Remember, you are not there to worship their gods, but to remember your friend, and support and share grief with their loved ones.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Your friend might be upset that you didn’t show respect to your deceased friend and wasn’t there to give your support to the people who loved him/her. Did you send any condolence to your deceased friend’s family? I hope so.

Your living friend can judge, but if you honestly feel that your religious beliefs preclude you from stepping into a Catholic church, then your friend has nothing to say. Expect her to think that you lack compassion, though. Most people will go to the service of a loved one of any faith in order to be there for the family and to show respect to the dead person’s memory.

Likeradar's avatar

Your friend has a right to feel how she feels.
She may not have realized before how your religion limits you, causing her to now think of you differently. She may think you’re using religion as an excuse to not go to a funeral, also causing her to now think differently of you.
Only she knows the real reason why she’s upset with you, and only you know if you truly follow a belief set that disallows you from attending a friend’s service, or if you’re using it as an excuse to not so something that’s uncomfortable for almost anyone.

Quite honestly, I would rethink my friendship if someone used religion as an excuse to not show support to a dead friend’s family. You sent a clear message about where your priorities lie.

I hope you come back and respond to some of the questions in this thread.

galileogirl's avatar

I think we have overlooked something, Friend A dies. @Theby doesn’t go to the funeral. Friend B doesn’t know Friend A but not only knows @Theby didn’t go to the funeral but the reason why. How does Friend B know all this? Is @Theby so proud of putting her ‘principles’ above paying her respects to her friend (Don’t all the ‘no funeral’ people jump to her defense, it’s not about the rite, it’s about the building) that she is talking about it to everyone she meets?. Is Friend B seeing an unexpected and unseemly side to @Theby? Does @Theby seem to be proselytizing? Why is @Theby discussing her decision with a ‘stranger’ to the situation?

I can understand why Friend B might be backing away.

davidbetterman's avatar

I agree with @john65pennington

Attending a funeral shows respect for the person, their family and your friend. You should have gone. Your friend is correct in being upset with you.

thriftymaid's avatar

No. That would be none of my business.

Leanne1986's avatar

I agree with @Simone_De_Beauvoir, I wouldn’t necessarily be angry (unless I knew the deceased friend maybe) but I would probably judge you. I would wonder how, if you valued the friendship of the deceased person, you couldn’t just put aside your beliefs for less than one day to pay your respects. That would also lead me to wonder if you were the type of person that I wanted in my life. It all sounds incredibly selfish.

Jeruba's avatar

I think attending or not attending a funeral is purely a personal decision. Some people are just not able for some reason, perhaps just immaturity, to understand the importance of this kind of support and expression of respect.

But I can’t imagine making the decision because the deceased had a different religion from mine (or had a religion when I do not). All religions honor the dead and reaffirm life, do they not?

I know that a person can live to regret not attending a significant occasion such as this. That regret can teach a young person an important life lesson.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I would be because attending the funeral of a friend is about my tribute to that person and not my own beliefs.

Symbeline's avatar

It’s really none of my business. Maybe it’s because I have no religion, so to me funerals are more about people, celebrating who the deceased was in their living and trying to support the loved ones-or being supported myself, rather than beliefs.
Nevertheless, it’s your own decision.

cak's avatar

Ultimately, it is your choice as to whether or not you attend a service. You decided not to go – you must stand by your decision. Your friend really has nothing to do with this decision. Maybe there is more to the story – maybe something along with a difference in religious beliefs (still trying to figure that one out) was really at play, here.

Funerals, memorials – whatever service it may be – are not held for the dead, but for the living. Sure, they are said to be for the dead, but the people that benefit, are the living. Some people just can’t handle these types of services.

Whether you were right or wrong? You know why you made the choice, you stand by your decision. That’s all that can be done. Now, if this is something that is putting strain on your friendship with friend “b” – maybe it’s because she thinks you will do the same to her. It’s a reaction. If you care about your friendship, ask why this bothers her so much, then get to the root of the problem. Tread lightly, it really may have more to do with how she feels you might react when she passes.

delam's avatar

I have to say I am absolutely beyond shocked…I don’t even have anything else to say.

JeffVader's avatar

Honestly, if one of my friends acted in that way I’d be disgusted with them. A funeral is about respecting the life of the person who’s died, & providing support to those left behind. It would seem breathtakingly selfish to me if someone I knew did this to a supposed friend & frankly, I probably wouldn’t want to associate with them anymore.

Trillian's avatar

Theby said :

Regarding your answer:
I never “puss out.” And I am not blaming my religion, I am following my religion.

And yet despite several attempts to find out exactly what this religion is, which is a completely rational question, you ignore the entire string and send me this comment. I think I can safely say that I speak for most of us when I again ask; What is your religion?

Likeradar's avatar

@Trillian I got a PM from @Theby as well, and you spoke for me quite nicely. :)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Likeradar lol, I got one too but after I said I don’t believe in god, there was no more

Likeradar's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I didn’t even bring up my beliefs, and there was no more…

JLeslie's avatar

Wait, are people revealing information from PM’s? I don’t think that is good fluther etiquette. It was sent privately for a reason.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JLeslie I didn’t say what was said to me, I said what I said and it wasn’t a genuine message, anyway, on their part…nothing, certainly, to engage me in a discussion

Likeradar's avatar

@JLeslie I agree that PMs are private, but I don’t think I’m giving away anything private. I didn’t say what she(?) said, just that she PMd me, what I said (actually, what I didn’t say) and that I got no response. If it was in poor form, I didn’t intend it to be and I apologize.

JLeslie's avatar

I was not trying to chastise, just pointing it out. Kind of a golden rule thing I think. I would not want someone to reveal I sent a PM, that is why I sent it as a PM.

galileogirl's avatar

My response to a PM that tells me I am pompus (sic) is if you don’t want opinions, don’t ask for them.

phillis's avatar

I know Theby’s religion, and understand why she isn’t mentioning it. In this case, I support her decision.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@phillis now I want to know the religion – not enough to PM them about it though

plethora's avatar

Well, you’ve raised quite an interest in what your religion could possibly be. That’s become more the issue than the funeral. I support what almost everyone on this thread has said. You shouldve gone to the funeral and your friend has a right to be angry and/or disappointed with you.

Rarebear's avatar

Your decision not to go to the funeral was your own choice. If your friend has a problem with it, that’s your friend’s problem, not yours.

as a side note, I find Catholic funerals very difficult to attend because of the open casket, a practice I personally am very much opposed to, so I try to avoid them myself.

galileogirl's avatar

I’ve been to a Baptist funeral with an open casket, it’s not just a Catholic thing. When there is an open casket the family is usually seated in the pew facing the casket. L don’t look into the casket, I just turn to the family and speak to them. That’s really who the funeral is for.

I’m guessing LDS. When I was in my 20’s an acquaintance who was LDS had her wedding at the Oakland Tabernacle. Only Mormons were allowed to enter so the bridal party members who were not LDS had to stand outside during the ceremony.

Arisztid's avatar

I am going to rephrase Theby’s question and change one word::

Would you be angry if a friend didn’t go to her friend’s funeral because of her religious belief?

I didn’t go to my friend’s Satanic funeral because it is against my religious belief. My other friend (who does not know the friend who died) got angry with me and this has put strain on our friendship. Do you think she had just reason to do this?

I am willing to bet that the comments would be vastly different to that question. However, what exactly is the difference between the question as I wrote it and the question Theby asked?

… the religion/ belief system specified. There is no other difference between the two questions: both are questions about not attending a funeral based on religious/ belief system basis.

Keysha's avatar

@anarisztidenim aka @Arisztid You are amazing. It’s no wonder I love you.

Arisztid's avatar

@timkeyshadrewen aka @Keysha… thankyou love. :)

phillis's avatar

oh, barf :)

@timarisztidewen That really is a fine point. Feel free to call me a hypocrite if my calling myself that doesn’t deliver adequate satisfaction. The one word change is clever, but I can’t follow you there. I wouldn’t be angry at all if a person didn’t attend a Satanic funeral.

Arisztid's avatar

@benphillisimew aka @phillis And that, my friend, is my entire point. The tone of the discussion in this thread would have been completely different with that little change. ;)

Theby is being roasted due to the specific religion that her religion states she should not attend. However, substitute something the majority of people find onerous for “Catholic” and the whole question changes. However, what, exactly, is the difference other than the dislike for the belief system I substituted?

JeffVader's avatar

@timarisztidendrew & @timkeyshaewen you guys are too sweet :)

Arisztid's avatar

@anjeffvaderen aka @JeffVader… Arisztid and Keysha, sending people into diabetic coma for three years on another website, here to send Fluther into a diabetic coma.

JeffVader's avatar

@anarisztidim Hahahaha, we’re all just jealouse :)

phillis's avatar

@anarisztidenim Plainly, there is no difference, except on my end. Of course, I didn’t roast her either, especially in private. That means I narrowly escaped the mouth of hell yawning before me, right? Right?! ACK!

Arisztid's avatar

@benphillisdrewim aka @phillis I cannot imagine you roasting her regardless. I am not even going to know if you replied in this until after April’s Fools. Luckily, not being religious in the slightest, I do not believe in hell either. :)

MrItty's avatar

Bull poppy.

If she was good enough to be your friend in life, if her religion didn’t affect your friendship in life, it shouldn’t affect your friendship in death. Whether the friend claims to be Catholic, Atheist, or Satanic is irrelevant.

If the religion you choose is more important to you than the friendships you choose, it wasn’t a particularly good friendship to begin with. It remains YOUR CHOICE to not go to her funeral. I categorically refuse to believe any religion would allow you to have a close friendship with someone of a particular contradictory religion, and not allow you to go to that person’s funeral on the basis of their religion.

Response moderated
JLeslie's avatar

@bengalileogirlimew Hey, lighten up. It’s April Fools Day!

Keysha's avatar

You know, I think it is pretty sad that so many are ragging on Theby for this. What if she just did not like going to funeral homes? What if she had a real problem with that idea? I have a friend that actually cannot stop shaking if they even think about having to go into one. Should they force themselves to go, as well?

The funeral is not for the deceased. The funeral is for those that are living to show they cared. If you can show you care, to the family or whomever, without going, and are uncomfortable for whatever reason about going, then you should be fine doing so.

Who decides what is right or wrong, about things like this, anyway? Just because you would go, why do you have to shove your values down the throat of another?

@Theby don’t listen to all these people that are ragging on you so much. You do what you feel is right, make no excuses for your beliefs, and tell others they need to accept you as you are.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ankeyshaen Granted, the OP did ask us if we’d be angry.

MrItty's avatar

@keysha I have absolutely no problem with her not wanting to go. If that’s all it was, she should tell her friend to stick her nose in someone else’s business.

My issue is her idiotic claim that she ”couldn’t” go because her religion forbids it. That is a cowardly way of excusing yourself from something you don’t want to do.

JLeslie's avatar

@anmrittyimen But, what if her religion does forbid it?

Keysha's avatar

Yes, she did as us if we would be angry. But you have to read that question again. The one that is angry at her is a friend of hers that did not even know the deceased. Is it really her business?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@ankeyshaenim Well that’s a different story – I have no idea if it was appropriate for her friend to say such things because I don’t know the extent of their friendship – just saying that we had the right to say whatever as it was asked of us – if the OP just wanted someone to say ‘no you’re right’ why even bother?

Keysha's avatar

I am not saying anyone did not have a right to say they thought she was wrong. I am saying there is no reason to rag on her over it. And some are doing just that.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@timkeyshaenew okay.

MrItty's avatar

@anjleslieim then she has an idiotic religion and should consider switching. And as I said to her earlier, I have yet to meet a single person who follows each and every tenant of the religion, without exception, 100% of the time. You choose what you want to do. Always.

asmonet's avatar

Everything I thought has been said by others…

But, I do find it incredibly frustrating when people ask questions of us with a real problem on their hands and refuse to engage in the process of finding a solution. @Theby, you’re just another seVen.

It’s like going to therapy but refusing to tell the doctor why. Ask yourself next time if you have no plans to be involved.

JLeslie's avatar

@MrItty Well, she chooses to follow that rule I guess. Her choice. People follow idiotic rules of their religion all of the time. They even follow them when there is an acception allowed. An orthodox Jewish woman who worked for me, who loved her temple and had many friends there, who always went to synagogue for the sabbath, stopped going when she hurt her knee and could not walk to the temple. She is allowed to drive for medical reasons, just like pregnant woman don’t have to fast on yum kippur, or diabetics, etc., God understands. But, she wouldn’t, she would not drive. Ridiculous. She missed going to temple for months.

MrItty's avatar

@JLeslie Yes. That is exactly my point. HER CHOICE. It is not “her religion forbids her” that prevents her from going. It is her choosing to follow that one particular aspect of her religion that prevents her from going. The way she phrases it, you’d think she was physically restrained and unable to attend, against her own free will.

JLeslie's avatar

@MrItty I think we disagree. I am saying that each of us gets to choose how we want to interpret our religion, or whatever rules we live by, and it is not for others to judge. Well, I might think a particular observance is ridiculous, so I guess that is a judgment, but I still respect the other persons choice. If the rule in the religion is she can’t go to the funeral, and it matters to her that she observes the rules as she understands them, then I find that reasonable. I get the feeling she is young. In time she might adjust how she thinks about these things. If she is part of one of those really strict religions that scares its’ members on a regular basis, it might be overwhelming for her to contemplate breaking a rule.

MrItty's avatar

@JLeslie We don’t disagree.

I have no problem with her choosing to follow the doctrine of her religion. I have no problem with her placing more importance on this doctrine than on her friendship.

What I have a problem with is her acting as though she didn’t have a choice, that she was forced to obey the doctrine of the religion.

If the question had been “Would you be upset if your friend chose her religious beliefs over attending a friend’s funeral” I probably wouldn’t have responded in the first place.

JLeslie's avatar

@MrItty Oh, I understand your point now. Thank you for explaining.

FutureMemory's avatar

Anyone else get a PM 3 weeks after the fact?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@FutureMemory ya…we already talked about it upstairs and now we’re not allowed to talk about it

MrItty's avatar

@FutureMemory not this time. Guess she’s still pissed at me from the last round of PMs. Eh.

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
Response moderated (Off-Topic)
whome's avatar

OK, I apologize. I got really angry by the responses here and just flew off too far, however, I do believe in my points and opinons. Unfortunately they are not actually defined in my, um, statement, and I’m not going to expense the time and energy to go into great detail, or any. I will add, regretably (because I don’t validate your comments) that the dead are dead. A funeral while attended as mourning and ‘paying respects’ is simply a matter of you getting to say a last goodbye, if you can attend. As for the family of the deceased, if you know them and can contact them, or see them, or if you’ve met a stranger and are talking and someone dead is mentioned and you’re informed then be polite and offer condolences. if you knew them well, are able and think it’s appropriate offer some form of assistance. If you don’t care about places, attend. if you have a reason, any reason don’t attend and don’t care about reasons, ‘excuses’ or what others think. don’t tell others how to grieve or ‘honor’ the dead. Personally I’d prefer to celebrate a person’s life and, if they were saved, their going to heaven (and I don’t like sugar coating for those who aren’t). And, yes, when I was younger and naive I made a nazarite vow (I’m a gentile Christian), during which time my former father-in-law passed. No one’s ever asked or said anything (except my mom said my dad, who went, was a bit mad and felt embarrassed) but I didn’t go though I wished I could have. Everyone probably thinks I was selfish or that it had to do w/ the very recent divorce. Doesn’t matter to me. I knew the man some and I prayed for him.
Otherwise I have been deeply offended by the cruel, selfish attacks and comments to this question. It was really surprising. My how America and the world have fallen. But I’m passed you now. :)
replies, comments, same as last post

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Personal attacks are not permitted.

JLeslie's avatar

@whome Are you talking to me directly? Since I had responded to you, but has now been deleted. I supported the OP’s right to not attend, that it is her personal choice. I asked her questions to try and understand why, and she did not want to give details. I even started with explaining that it is my undertsanding that Jews don’t go into other houses of worship from what I understand if they follow the religion in a strict sense (I am Jewish by the way, but not religious, and not very sure of all of our rules, but I had heard that) and would be understanding if that is the indivduals choice. I spoke about how others might view it, but for me personally I thnk her friend should not judge or be angry with her. Or, maybe ou were not talking to me?

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