Dear Prudence, Slate, 6 December 2022:
Q. Bothersome Burials: Is it appropriate to hold a funeral on a Saturday? I have recently noticed that funerals are more frequently being held on Saturdays instead of weekdays and I think it is bad etiquette. On most Saturdays, we already have plans for weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, ski trips, softball tournaments, etc. and I am perturbed when we are expected to change those plans to attend funerals. It seems to me that when you lose someone very close to you that you should be taking time off of work anyway rather than waiting until your scheduled day off to have a funeral and grieve. When you lose an acquaintance, or perhaps do not know the deceased but still want to support your friends and family, you should be able to limit it to a few hours during the week and not give up your weekend plans. Also, it seems inconsiderate to make the funeral home and cemetery staff work on a Saturday. I believe that Saturdays should be off-limits, am I mistaken about this?
Dear Bothersome Burials,
Funerals should absolutely never be held on Saturdays, for all of the excellent reasons you describe. It is inconsiderate in the extreme to interrupt people’s ski trips even for legitimate reasons (whatever they may be — nothing immediately springs to mind, but the Bad Advisor is sure someone somewhere will be able to drudge up an example). To derail a romp on the slopes for something as inconsequential as a community gathering to grieve the departure of a beloved friend or family member from the plane of existence as we know it frankly defies comprehension. For the snuffing out of one’s mortal lamplight to cause scheduling conflicts around more minor commitments such as weddings and baby showers is naturally a lesser infraction — attendees can always simply RSVP to the next one, or the one after that — but nevertheless impolite. Of course, few will share your deep concern for the wellbeing of those death professionals who work on Saturdays despite undoubtedly being, as you are, shocked by and entirely unprepared to accommodate the customs and traditions surrounding the inevitable fate, old as life itself, that awaits all of us. But your selflessness is noted here nonetheless.
If you are mistaken about anything, it is in failing to interrogate the cause of these breaches of etiquette. There was a time when people treated each other with just a little more consideration — when we left our doors unlocked, our unvaccinated children played together barefoot in the streets until dawn, and we dropped dead when and only when it was convenient for people’s busy weekend schedules. My mother would have rather died than shuffle off the mortal coil just before Little Maydelayne’s big softball tournament! Sadly, people these days think only of themselves, their own needs, and their own petty concerns — to say nothing of their unwillingness to sacrifice a day of fun and fulfilling work to attend the final celebration of life for some douchebag who had the gall to kick the bucket without checking their second cousin’s day-off calendar first. Grief is already experienced for only those fleeting moments we spend attending funeral services; it is unseemly to defer our limited 40- to 90-minute mourning periods until such a time as we can gather together in meaningful community.
Alas, that’s the world we live in today! We can lay much of the blame on the obvious culprits — video games, reefer, and heavy metal music — but we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we did not admit that we are responsible for making time for what matters. The next time a cherished friend, loved one, or colleague sets off on that long, mysterious journey to the undiscovered country, we must prioritize the apres-ski reservations at the lodge bar.