Why I enjoy funerals more than weddings

After coming back home feeling depressed after a friend's wedding, this time I decided to write a more personal post explaining my viewpoint regarding the common events of weddings and funerals, which almost everyone attends at some point during their lifetime. In almost all cultures throughout the world weddings are associated with happiness, while funerals are portrayed as sad events, associated with grief. In my culture a typical wedding would involve the ceremony of a wedding talk where the couple are given their blessing, and signing documents, followed by a party where the guests would dance to music, eat a lot of food and drink alcohol. Meanwhile, at a funeral, the body would be lying in a casket at a hall where a goodbye speech would be given, before being sent off to be buried or cremated. The guests would then go off to a wake, or reception, where food would be provided and people would talk to each other, commemorating the life of the deceased (often crying at the same time).

What I got from the recent wedding I attended... because some things just break too easily

The main difference between the two events is the fact that not everyone gets to have their own wedding, but almost everyone will have or already had a funeral, sooner or later. In addition, the topics which the guests talk about during the two events are siginificantly different from each other. While weddings tend to be filled with congratulating the newly-married couple, gossip about who will be next and drunken banter, conversations following funerals usually focus on the positive things about the life of the deceased and the impact they made on society, as well as reflections on one's own mortalilty and the importance of setting the right priorities.

11 months ago I attended the funeral of my good friend who took his own life at the age of 22 due to his mental illness. Of course, it was a very sad event for all his family and friends. His death had an impact on all of us since it was such a shock. Before it happened nobody could see it coming since this person always seemed cheerful and often talked about his plans for the future. While some people, including myself, were aware of his depression, it did not appear very severe and he was getting treatment. So when the news of his death was announced, many of us initially thought it was just a sick joke. Except it wasn't.

After the funeral service, me and the others went off to the wake, which took place in a "posh" pub. After giving my condolences to my friend's family, I sat down at a table with a few other friends from university who knew the guy while he was alive. Although in the usual circumstances I would not often talk to them, and when they spoke with each other they would typically talk the usual social banter, that time it was different. We had a conversation about the friend we all lost and each of us would recall different situations in which he did something funny, made someone happy or was particularly helpful. I can honestly say that only good things were said, and I'm sure it would have made him happy if he heard it. Maybe it would have made a difference if these positive things were said while he was still alive. Maybe not. But either way it taught us all to appeciate our friends and family members while they are still there.

During the wake people finally started opening up about the stigma associated with suicide and mental health. We all wished our friend could have told at least one of us about what was really going on, but instead the ridiculous stigma forced him to be silent and to die alone and depressed. Perhaps he did tell someone who didn't take him seriously or criticised him. Whatever happened, the stigma was the real killer. However, despite the tragedy me and others have learned many valuable lessons and had some of the most meaningful conversations during the wake. My friend's sister is now actively involved in campaigning for Calm, the mental health charity focussing on improving mental health of young men.

Another memorable funeral I attended was that of my grandfather. Actually, it was a double funeral since he passed away while he was on holiday visiting me and my parents and he had to be initially cremated to be moved for his following burial back home more easily. The initial funeral preceding the cremation was quite sad. Not many people attended since they barely knew my granddad. However, those who did come along mostly did it to support my mother who was very upset. It was a time when we discovered who our true friends were, and we are still close with these people to this day.

In comparison, in my opinion weddings are full of fake friends who only come along for the free food, free alcohol and free fun. The only price they pay is a bit of money spent on a wedding gift. Wedding receptions are filled with a sickly sweetness permeating every inch of the atmosphere and ear-piercing shrieks of over-reacting bridesmaids. Almost all conversations, if not drowned out by loud music, are completely meaningless, focussing on the vanity of clothing, make-up and appearance of the wedding cake. The importance of love is drowned out by the talk of 'what a lovely couple they make', even though in their heads everyone is questioning whether the marriage will last for more than a couple of years. Single guests are making desperate attempts to reduce their loneliness with a hookup or drowning their sorrow in alcohol, while making a pretense of happiness so as not to spoil the others' fun.

Honestly, weddings and their vanity disturb me. Maybe I'm just bitter because of my own lacking love life, but whatever it is, funerals carry much more meaning in my opinion. While I'm happy for the couples who get to experience that bit of happiness, life is not so kind to everybody and I believe that more consideration should be given to those of us who will never experience any warmth and affection from somebody they can trust. Instead, life should be celebrated equally for everybody who still exists and we should never hold back from telling people how much we appreciate them, because they won't be around forever. Remembering our mortality can help us be kinder and live our lives better.


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