Skipping a Funeral

Skipping a Funeral

A funeral is an essential part of the grieving process. For some.

Most of us (especially my co-author) know what it’s like to be required to attend a funeral but not really feel it does much for them. Let’s face it – death is sad but it hits everyone some time or another. Outside of immediate family and close friends most of the 100 or so attendees at a funeral are there to keep up appearances.

On one occasion ten or so years ago, my co-author, our friend Matt* (a raging conspiracy theorist and World of Warcraft champion) and I were on our way to a funeral. In the same car. Our friend’s girlfriend told us it was expected to go for an hour and a half. Gordon and Matt decided there was ample time to have a cigarette shortly before attending so while the rest of us walked up to the church, Gordon and Matt ducked into a laneway and lit up.

The church was packed out so I was standing on the steps throughout the ceremony. About 15 minutes in, I saw Gordon and Matt approach the church, cross the road and hang a left into a side street. I’m told they went straight to a cafe, ordered a few lattes and read the sports section of the paper together.

Unfortunately, the ceremony clocked in at only 40 minutes. A grieving family member approached me at the end of the service and said ‘where are Gordon and Matt?’. I said they didn’t make it.

So we all headed off to the wake. 15 minutes in, Gordon and Matt entered and proceeded to shake the hand of every family member they could find, saying it was a beautiful ceremony and that they’d been ‘around the side entrance’. If they’d had their time over, I’m sure they would have waited until they were asked before saying where they had been sitting. And at least checked that the church had a side entrance, which of course it didn’t.

The upside was that, myself excluded, no one was really willing to confront them about missing the service and essentially they got away with it. They even made it to a family member’s wedding when I didn’t so there you go. This story also became the basis of an award winning micro budget short, The Side Entrance, which you can find here:

The moral of the story is that you shouldn’t feel obliged to attend these things. You do, however, risk social exclusion if you don’t attend without an excuse. So, either do some recon on Google Maps and make sure the church has a side entrance and say you were there, or book an interstate trip before you decide to skip a funeral.


*his real name