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04 March 2010 @ 07:49 pm
Customs around death  
I suppose it all depends on what you grow up with, but I find open-casket viewings creepy as hell.
Tom the Alien Cattomtac on March 6th, 2010 02:25 pm (UTC)
It depends. It really does depend.

What I would -like- to have is the requirement that every child/person's personality be taken into account, and appropriate preparation or waivers be issued. ... (Look, did you ever read "The Three Faces of Eve"? It seems to lay the blame for that woman's shattered personality on having to attend her grandmother's wake, and her parents forcing her to actually touch the body. (iirc) )

Instead, people pretty much just inflict their customs on their children and friends willy-nilly, and there's no thought to the process.

I remember my grandmother's wake. I was about ten and she looked like a melting pile of wax. I wasn't traumatized only because it was my first wake and I thought everyone would look like that when dead. The mortician should have been sued.

Two examples of "good" open caskets:

1) I watched my grandfather wither and die of cancer when I was about seventeen. He looked terrible the last time I saw him. So I really did not want to go to the open casket wake because I figured he would look even worse. ... But it was okay, really, because -this- mortician made him look heroic as hell in his Fire Department Fire Captain uniform and managed to hide the effects of the cancer on his body. All the firefighters that attended talked about how great he was. And -that- is how I've remembered him since.

2) This other is manipulative, I know, in that the wake really -should- have been disturbing. A small child had squirmed out of his older sister's hand because he wanted to run across a busy street. The result was an open-casket wake for a boy of about seven. Naturally, all the children that were taken there were spooked by it, as well they should be. Sort of saying "see what happens when you don't listen?" without having to say it.

It depends. One really shouldn't push the noses of children into mortality without being there for them, to explain it.