One of my favorite news websites and blogs is The Huffington Post. It recently published an article on one of the least discussed topics within our community: Funerals. The post, entitled, “‘Homegoings’ Documentary Explores African-American Funeral Tradition (VIDEO),” introduces an upcoming documentary about the undertaking business. I enjoyed the article, and I look forward to watching the PBS production in June. However, I decided to write a response and elaborate on some funeral issues that many in our community neglect.
African-Americans and Funerals
One of my sorority members recently lost someone very dear to her. Her loved one could not be referred to as a friend because she was more like a family member. My sorority sister handled many of the funeral arrangements, and the service was beautiful! People from all over complimented her on the homegoing celebration. From the singing to the preaching, people are still talking about the amazing service! Of course, the ultimate satisfaction was that the deceased looked like she was merely sleeping. Compliments were not reserved for my sorority sister, but they were extended to the undertaker. This is typical for many African-American funerals.
After the Funeral
What the article does not address is the many issues that surface after the funeral. In our community, much is made of spiritual preparation while financial preparation is lacking. I am sure that you have heard of arguments, fights, and disassociation over money matters when loved ones die. Not too much is made before or during the funeral arrangements, but the emotional blows are usually struck after the service. Perhaps the bickerers want to make sure that they are not asked for one dime. Speaking of asking, I have heard of situations where outrageous requests and claims have been made.
How can we stop this madness from wreaking havoc on so many families? It seems that some people would rather not discuss death, or they are not concerned about what happens when they are gone. Consequently, rows are started over who gets what! The deceased may be resting in peace, but sometimes those who are left behind take years to rest again. There are some basic decisions (such as an insurance policy) that you can make to eliminate this problem. Funeral planning is the key! I am impressed by the undertaker who is mentioned in this article; however, many of us need to address the other issues that need undertaking!
If you have experienced outrageous requests or claims during or after funeral arrangements, please comment.