Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Funeral (Sorry Hula, but it is what I did today)

I have now officially been to my first Catalan funeral.

The social pressure on the street has been mounting with each death. That sounds horribly morbid, but we live in the older part of town and there are quite a lot of seniors on our street. Indeed today's was the third funeral in a week.

Things I noticed, and a caveat.

I don't think I have ever been to a full-on Catholic funeral before, so some of these differences may be a function of religious differences.

Nobody spoke but the priest. No one. Weird. Impersonal too.

It was a full mass. People took communion. That seemed strange to me.

The casket came in on this wheel-y-bin kind of thing, like a massively overfilled shopping cart. That sounds odd and all, but that is what it looked like.

Every funeral I have been to the casket has either been there when the people arrived and stayed there till after they left, or it was carried in and out on people's shoulders. That said, I haven't been to all that many funerals.

People were WAY casually dressed. I did ask in advance, and I was not expected to wear all black, which I do in Canada....but.....but....

OK, I was told that wearing all black is old fashioned and that only the family would maybe wear black.

The adult sons of the man were not wearing ties. They had on striped shirts under their jackets. The children in the family were wearing regular, nice-ish clothes.

But, I am sorry, I know I sound horribly Victorian here, but WHO over the age of 16 wears jeans to a funeral of an old man.

Jeans and a checked shirt, a shabby jacket and whatever shoes seemed the comfiest to put on.

BIG cultural difference there, cause it seemed to be just fine. The man and I were talking about it, and some of these people did just come from work, but I have worn funeral clothes to work because I have to go to one. I was probably dressed more somberly than most, with brown linen pants, a black turtleneck, black jacket (fleecy, I would never have worn that in Canada, but the church is cold) black shoes, none too clean, plus a very small muted necklace, hair tied back.

The son I know well enough to attend the funeral has been a student of mine for several years and interestingly I warranted a double cheek-kiss, which not many folks were getting.

The man had been very ill. It is still, in many ways, sad.

I feel worst for his grandchildren. They are too young to recognise how ill he was, and they will miss him. He lived just a few doors down.


Tuesdays are long at the best of times.


Diane Mandy said...

WOW. I am sorry about the circumstances, but I am so happy you posted about this. If I had been in that situation, I would have dressed up and worn black. Good to know it's not really done here.

The Bodhi Chicklet said...

Catholic services are long. They seem to cover all the bases during one. Sounds like you will miss him too. I once knew a woman who wore jeans to her father-in-law's funeral, out of a show of total disrespect. Sad, but true. And now Tuesday is just about over.

Beth said...

A sad day and yet, still, you are always learning something while living there.
Tomorrow is another day - hope it's a good one!

J.G. said...

So sorry for the losses in your neighborhood. Even when someone is elderly and ill, it's always too soon when they go.

I was raised Episcopalian (very similar rites to Catholic), and communion at a funeral does not seem strange to me. The traditional Episcopal service is noted for never mentioning the name of the deceased, so theoretically one could attend the wrong funeral and never even know it! But we do tend toward formal dress in subdued colors as showing respect.

I agree with the idea of celebrating the person's life, but showing the grief side is important, too.

Beth said...

oh that's so sad. but it probably IS a cultural thing. and I've seen people wear ripped jeans and tank tops to a WEDDING!!!

TeacherMommy said...

I remember my husband's grandfather's funeral being very different, in that Catholic sort of way. We were all very formally dressed--but then, we don't live by the ocean, either.

I tagged you over on my blog, if you're interested!

Helen said...

At Matt's funeral last year Sue said not to wear black as the French don't do it either, which I found odd, but it was very casual as far as clothes go. Sue herself wore cream and brown. As for a requiem mass - that is normal for a Catholic, and communion would be part of the services in a mass. The rituals of the mass can be very comforting because you have had masses at key points in your life as a practicing Catholic - baptism, communion, wedding, etc.

Any funeral is sad, even when the person who died was old and ill. It is always difficult to say goodbye.

oreneta said...

Diane, I have learned to ask the STUPIDEST questions, because I never ever know what the difference is going to be. It was interesting. Queen Victoria is still influencing our behaviour today.

Bodhi. Long indeed.

Beth, a much nicer day...FESTA!

JG, they did mention his name, repeatedly, so I was at the right one. The fact that there are only two churches in town helps....the grief was quite subdued as well.

Beth, ripped jeans and a tank top at a wedding???? Who brought these people up???

Teacher mommy, I'm in, but it is going to have to wait a moment...I am bursting with posts today....I have a backlog at the moment. Good for a day when the well is a little drier.

Helen, I think the all black thing must have been enforced, or reinforced by Queen Vicky, no? Once you get outside her realm, the call for all black seems weaker. Interesting comments about the Catholic aspect. Thanks, I was wondering how much was typical. Though when I asked, I was told that it was a very typical funeral.

swenglishexpat said...

I am very surprised. I thought they would be very traditional since for instance the educational system and race relations seem to be a few decades behind. Hm, interesting.

oreneta said...

Swenglishexpat, I will grant that the educational system is not so great but I do have to disagree with your comments about race relations. While I will openly admit that Spain is not a utopia, it does not have a powerful right wing racist party. Probably they still find that quite distasteful. Plus they have very forgiving and welcoming immigration policies. All immigrants, illegal or legal have access to health care. All immigrant children, including illegals, can go to school. They have regular amnesties, anyone who can show that they have a job, is granted papers. The issues are somewhat more difficult with the South Americans than with the Africans, who they generally really like, they view the South Americans as uppity little sisters and brothers (imho),with the moslem popluation, mostly from Morroco, it is a somewhat more historically involved story, what with 700 years of occupation and subsequently high piracy activity. Their biggest issue right now has more to do with Eastern European crime that is appearing here.

I hear things that are said that shock me, but in NA we are very conscious of what can and cannot be said, which is not the same here in Europe, but the policies that the people vote for are possibly more humane and open than anywhere else in Europe. I also, on a street level, see a basic level of friendliness and acceptance. I am not sure they are really behind at all.

swenglishexpat said...

Oreneta, I am delighted I was so wrong. Thank you for taking time to write at length to explain your experiences and views on the subject. It only goes to show the importance of getting to know a place/country and its people to form a qualified opinion. Thanks again! :-)