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Funeral Crashers, Strangers and The Lonely Weirdo’s​ at Funerals.

Last weekend I was talking to one of my cousins about funerals. She said she would prefer that when she dies there isn’t a bunch of people she doesn’t really know at her service. I have heard this before, families state during arrangements they don’t want an obituary because they would prefer that only those who were close to them and the deceased attend. They don’t want to end up with a bunch of funeral crashers or small town people showing up for a free lunch.

I don’t live in a small town, but funeral crashers are not actually all that common. The only crashers who regularly attend funerals are the funeral home staff, because families are paying them to be there. Families expect the funeral director at the service because they remove a lot of responsibility and allow time to congregate and share stories. Rather than prepare and organize during a very important time.

Funeral crashers do exist, but they’re uncommon. The average person isn’t going to go where they’re unwelcome, because it can lead to awkward situations. The possibility of getting found out you have no connection to the deceased or their family, doesn’t compensate for a free lunch.

What about the people who only somewhat know our family and didn’t actually take the time to be there for us while we were living?

None of us know the magnitude of our impact on others. We affect people around us every day in ways we may not be aware of. We are a collective hive of knowledge and inspiration. In our lives, we are given the chance to change, share ideas, and perspectives. A mundane act of kindness, a small gesture, or even doing a great job at work might be life changing for another person who is struggling. If a person shows up to my funeral because I made an impact on their life which I don’t even know about, then great! Some of the most amazing people who I’ve met in my life might not even remember who I am.

Growing up, we moved a lot and It has been years since I crossed paths with my high school science teacher. Her family doesn’t know me, and she may not remember me, but I remember her. She was one of 2 people in my life who encouraged me to go to post secondary school. I will probably go to her funeral. It is important to me, to share the story of how she affected my life with her family, because she is amazing. And it feels important to share that.

The only story of a funeral crasher I have, is from years ago. One person, one time, that is it. An old man came into the funeral home for a service. He was really early. The staff and I went over and sat with him and visited, to help us both pass the time until more guests arrived. We asked questions about how he knew the deceased. His answers however, didn’t coincide with any of the information from the obituary or that which the family had provided during arrangements. He couldn’t even remember the name of the person who had died. We asked him if he was at the right place and he admitted he was there for the lunch and to meet people. We politely told him he couldn’t stay. He left embarrassed.

In hindsight, this is a pretty sad story. Would an 80-year-old man be crashing a funeral if he wasn’t lonely or didn’t have enough money to buy his own lunch. This is the reality of many seniors who crash funerals. These are the people I want to attend every one of my family member’s funerals and my own. Even if he is weird and annoying and we have never met. I would hope that my family would feed him and make him feel comfortable. I would hope he leaves my funeral feeling less lonely and isolated just like everyone else who decides to attend.

People at the reception often say the only time their family seems to get together is at weddings and funerals. They encounter childhood friends, distant cousins and neighbors whom they have lost touch with. These estranged people were not around during dire times, but they go to the funeral because someone in that family made a major impact on their lives. They want to reconnect, and funerals are a great way to do that. Long lost friends and relatives are welcomed with hugs, tears and gratitude. I have seen romances blossom, friendships develop and relationships improve because of funerals.

On the surface it would seem a lot of people attend funerals for the lunch. In reality, everyone is there because they are in a time of need and crave human connection, even the crashers. I like any opportunity to get people connected. The true crashers are rare and I completely respect that some families aren’t comfortable with random people showing up to an emotional event. I can understand wanting someone who is not welcome removed. If they show up to the funeral of one of my family members that crasher had better stay, because I believe everyone is there for a reason. Even if you or I don’t know what the reason may be.

We have death cafes talking about how to handle grief and loss. I would love to see funeral crashers potlucks in funeral homes, specifically for those who are lonely have nothing to do who want to meet new people and have a less lonely life. I want to feed poor and lonely seniors. These are the people I want to serve, the people I want in my life and the situations where biggest impact can be had. If funeral directors preach that funerals are about community coming together, maybe funeral crashers potlucks held at the funeral home can be the new trend.

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