My immediate family spent the majority of last week at my in-laws home in New York because my wife’s grandmother passed away.
While I think it’s extremely important to celebrate the memory of the deceased; support and sympathize with the survivors and offer a degree of closure for the living via the various death-induced services and rituals – I hate funerals.
As a former news reporter, I had to attend dozens as an uninvited gawker amidst grieving strangers and then trying to speak with someone on camera – yuck. Within my own family, the funerals for all my grandparents and both my parents further soured an already distasteful experience – double yuck.
However, the latest funeral affront I experienced last week was the seemingly unending cavalcade of culinary creations that crammed every inch of table and counter space at the in-laws single-story rambler.
As an aside, death is a natural part of our existence but I’m convinced that the ritualistic events around death make most people uncomfortable. They frequently don’t know the unspoken etiquette to engage grievers – it’s not something you can practice for in advance or take an online class titled “Funeral 101: communication tips.”The awkward nature of attending a wake, memorial gathering, funeral service or graveside burial adds a layer of stress to a stressful someone that you’re “Sorry for their loss” or “Quite a lovely eulogy the pastor delivered.”
After a point, conversations experience a metaphorical death of their own – and the easiest thing left to talk about is the food that everyone brought. Apparently death brings out the inner sous chef in all of us.
And what types of cuisine do people bring the grieving???
Don’t get me wrong, the care, love and attention that people pour into food preparation for such events is humbling and appreciated. However, they also tend to pour in tons of sugar, shortening, oils, salt and butter to ensure maximum calorie density in an effort to assuage the pain of loss.
It’s ironic that the very foods that people tend to prepare for post-mortem funeral gatherings are overloaded with the cholesterol-raising, heart-stopping, clot-forming, artery-hardening, stroke-inducing ingredients that medical science continues to urge us to avoid in an effort to extend our lives.
I don’t know whether such food prep is an unconscious attempt to thumb a nose at the Grim Reaper, or an unspoken ethos to unabashedly indulge in the edible extremes that life has to offer – because life is too short – but I hate it, because I ate most of it last week.
Which brings me to this week’s WeightWatcher weigh-in, where I apparently gained +5.0 lbs in seven days. I have no one to blame but myself, but I am focusing an accusatory eye toward the strawberry trifle, twice-baked ziti, home-style chicken and biscuits as well as various baked in which I partook last week.
Damn, I hate funerals!
Assuming that all of my relatives can make it through the week this side of eternity – I’m hopeful that there will be less of me to write about after next week’s weigh-in.