Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Funeral: A Review

The day was mostly a blur for us, from my Mom to Anna June. But on Valentine's Day, we buried my grandmother Hazel.

The service and interment were at Southern Heritage in Pelham, AL.

The place itself is formidable. It's visible from I-65.

Inside, there's a nice chapel and several other rooms. The family met early to eat. We then received guests.

The visitation consisted mostly of distant relatives thinking I was my mother.

Then the family had a prayer and we went back for one last viewing before we closed the casket. It was so, so sad. It was as if the last month of illness and decline had never happened. It was like she had just dozed off while all dressed for church.

So the program was like this:


1. Song "Amazing Grace" - Rhenda Majors sang this a capella. This solo was by my grandmother's best friend's daughter. It was fabulous. I agreed with her ahead of the service that she did not need to sing all the verses, but she added on an ending that made it a little non-traditional.

2. Welcome, Prayer - Dr. Carter. Dr. Carter was the minister at Shades Mountain Baptist Church, where the Robbins family attended, and Grandma continued to attend until her health no longer permitted. My uncle Scott had kept in touch and he agreed to come, as he knew her and the current ministers did not.

3. Special Reading - Laura. I read Psalm 121. It only has 8 verses. I did not cry at the podium, and now I am ready for my Academy Award.

4. Song: "Whispering Hope" - Marliese Thomas. Marliese is a cousin of ours - her dad Eric is Grandma's cousin. She has a voice like an angel - I happened to be in high school choir with her one year. She was supposed to have an accompanying track, but it didn't work, so she just sang without it. This song was played at my mom's father's funeral as well - he died when she was young. But many people there remembered that.

5. Message - Dr. Carter. The message was fine, but he did call her Hazel Morris several times. Morris is the last name of my Aunt Vicki's first husband. We are not sure why he called her that, but of all the names in the family to choose from, we were disappointed he made that particular error.

Every funeral makes us think about what we want when we die. We have various wishes, but my Wish #1 is that I have someone leading the service who knows me well enough to know my name and pronounce it correctly.

From the message, one thing he said about losing a loved one stuck with AJ. "They're not lost if you know where they are."

6. Closing Prayer. - Dr. Carter.

7. Funeral Director's Dismissal - The dismissal itself was fine, but the time between the dismissal and the "Committal Service" was WAY too long.
This is not meant to be a bad review of Southern Heritage. The staff were very sweet. We didn't have much of a choice: everything had been prearranged by my grandparents many years ago. I remember talking with them about it and feeling so sad, but as it turns out, it was a very wise and caring thing to do.

We did make fun of the yard signs on the way out reminding visitors of services offered there. We found that a little opportunistic, but hey, the best advertising is to your target audience. Whatever works.


Anonymous said...

I can't tell you HOW MANY funerals I have gone to where the minister does that to the dearly departed's name. I wonder why.........!? I think that someone should be pre-appointed to discreetly walk up and set the speaker straight!Otherwise, it sounds like a nice simple ceremony----just about what you all could handle,at such an emotional time.

Laura Gallitz said...

Yes, I've also been to another funeral where they mispronounced the name of the deceased. I was mortified. It's definitely a good reason to be an active part of a church - to be known by a minister.