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Author Topic: Funeral officiant  (Read 651 times)

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Kuildeous

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Funeral officiant
« on: November 01, 2017, 06:05:38 pm »
+2

So, wow, I am floored by a phone call I just received. My mind is a-whirl, and I feel like emptying my mind among people I trust. That includes many f.ds people. Kind of weird, eh? Well, my meatspace friends and my wife are not available right now, and it may help to talk this out with people who aren't that close to me IRL. Who knows? Maybe this just becomes rambling.

So my friend's son died yesterday. He was 20. I've known this kid for nearly 15 years. We weren't very close. After all, he was only a child most of the time I've known him. But his father and I played a lot of D&D, and the boy grew up into being a gamer. We connected recently on Facebook since he became a college student.

That's shocking enough, but what has me especially on an emotional roller coaster is that his father asked me if I could officiate at the funeral. He knows his son was not religious, so asking his own pastor to step up didn't feel right to him. He chose me because I am a pastor through the Universal Life Church and am also not religious. He clearly felt that his son would have preferred someone like me to speak on his behalf, which is really saying something because the father is actually quite religious.

I couldn't say yes right away. I've performed over a dozen weddings, but I've never been asked to do a funeral. On the one hand, I am not certain that I could be prepared for this. On the other, it would mean a lot to the family.

Like I said, I'm just going over this. I need time to absorb this. The service isn't for another few days, so I have time to give my final answer. They have their family pastor on hand if I feel I cannot do this.

I'm open to advice, though I can't imagine that many people have been in this situation. At least I hope no one has.
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Jack Rudd

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Re: Funeral officiant
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2017, 06:11:29 pm »
0

I don't know what decision would be best overall, but I think you made a good meta-decision here.
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DG

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Re: Funeral officiant
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2017, 06:41:44 pm »
+7

I think you should talk to the family pastor and see if he can give you some advice. I hate to say this, but there is probably a formulaic way of doing these things and the pastor should be able to tell you how to do that and also how to add your memories of the family for a personal touch. Even if you decide not to do it, the pastor might appreciate your help in finding out more about the family.
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Kirian

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Re: Funeral officiant
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2017, 02:45:35 pm »
+3

Oh man.  Condolences to your friend.  As Theoden said, no one should have to bury their child. :(  The fact that the religious father not only accepted his irreligious son but wants someone irreligious to perform the funeral/memorial speaks volumes about someone who is a very good man.

I would say this is something you can definitely do; everything you've done here on this forum suggests you'd be marvelous.  I wouldn't worry about anything formulaic.  Speak for him; speak of love and remembrance; ask friends and family to speak of memories at the ceremony.  You're acting as MC more than anything else, unless they also want you to eulogize specifically, but that's usually for family or family friend.

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sitnaltax

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Re: Funeral officiant
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2017, 12:15:54 am »
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I agree with both Kirian and DG. If you're able to officiate, I think it would be a truly good deed. Kirian brought up the important things to talk about. But I suspect that talking to the pastor would be a good step too. I had a nontraditional wedding, and I've been to several others, and when weddings aren't done pro forma, it's a happy surprise because it's a happy occasion. For a funeral, though, I think keeping as much of the structure as possible--while still keeping it secular and making the appropriate changes, since that's the reason you're there--would provide stability and as much comfort as possible to friends and family.
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Kuildeous

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Re: Funeral officiant
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2017, 01:16:51 am »
+4

Thanks, guys. I talked it over with a pastor friend of mine, and she helped put my mind at ease. She sent me an example of one that she did.

It's still a blow to the gut, but I'm coping with it. I agreed to officiate. I'll be meeting with the family Saturday evening to talk about stories about him.

It's scary to do this for the first time, but it's also a bit heady. It really is a great honor, and I only want to provide the best environment for everyone.
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schadd

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Re: Funeral officiant
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2017, 01:31:07 am »
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i'm pretty sure the correct declension is "funeram officiant"

also if i understand correctly you're the one that's gonna do it? so it's officiābō
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Kuildeous

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Re: Funeral officiant
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2017, 12:33:48 am »
+1

i'm pretty sure the correct declension is "funeram officiant"

also if i understand correctly you're the one that's gonna do it? so it's officiābō

Thanks for the correction.

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Kuildeous

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Re: Funeral officiant
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2017, 05:32:41 pm »
+19

Well, the deed is done. It's been a crazy 5 days since I learned of the news. After meeting with the family Saturday evening, I sat down and typed up my speech for the funeral. That night I sent it to my pastor friend to get her opinion on the flow. Surprisingly, I managed to make it all fit well. I also sent it to the father to fact-check me. I sat amidst the family for over an hour taking in all these stories, so I had to make sure I crafted the anecdotes correctly. I must have read my draft out loud at least 10 times.

Which I'm glad I did so. While it was still emotional, practicing this speech helped me retain my composure. I could speak with the gravitas of the situation while still maintaining a sense of control. I did crack a little toward the end, but it fortunately was leading up to a moment of silence, which I gladly utilized to gather myself.

But I knew I did the right thing. It wasn't just his father who was grateful. His mother was incredibly grateful for me taking on this role. And the funeral director commented on the quality of my speech as I handed her a copy. She said that a lot of times ministers would pull some published pieces and cobble them into one speech. This was all very personal.

Thanks for the input, guys.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2017, 05:46:43 pm by Kuildeous »
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