A Hole In The Workforce

Last Sunday, I was at work, and found out that one of our Quality Control inspectors (or QCs)–a guy I had met only two or three times–had been killed on his motorcycle that day. Apparently, a truck pulled out in front of him, and he had nowhere else to go but in. Needless to say, it stopped much work production for the rest of the day, and the mood in the hangar on Monday was somber as well.

When a workforce loses one of their own, it’s a wretched thing that brings mortality to the forefront, and forces us all to question why we are really spending our time there, anyway. As we were standing around, sharing stories about the guy who had passed–he was juuuust shy of retiring, and was building a place in Maryland somewhere–someone brought up the funeral processions of a black man who had passed several years before, and was recounting how different it was than he’d ever seen. He said that for the “Viewing” (or “Wake,” as many of us know it), the people were free to come and pay their respects, but the immediate family was not present for it at all.

This is very different than the way folks in the Catholic Church do it, I can tell you from experience. My heritage extends into Italy for generations, to give you a clear idea of where I’m coming from. When my Dad passed, there was a Wake, and during that wake, it was the first our family got to see of Him after he passed. Our family had private time to pay our respects, and throughout the course of a few hours, everyone who wanted to come and pay their respects to Dad came and went. It was tumultuous for my family, but it was an opportunity for anyone who knew my Dad to come and honor him in the Afterlife, and it gave my family (me included) a bit of closure.

The next day would have been the funeral, except that Dad had been cremated. All of my other family members–grandparents, uncles, cousins–have been buried, and after each service, we would go to a little Italian place nearby, and have an extensive and exhaustive brunch-type-meal, complete with coffee before and Grapa during and after.

Realizing that many cultures do things differently, I am fascinated–what does your family do when a member of your family dies? Of course, many different cultures treat the burial process differently, for different reasons. I am forever a student of the rest of this planet, and I am interested to hear how your family treats the recently deceased.

    • Kevin
    • April 19th, 2012

    I’m Roman Catholic on my dad’s side, and our wakes and funerals are very traditional Catholic. We do full masses and the whole nine yards. In fact, my grandmother and grandfather’s Catholic funerals may be why I feel such a strong connection to the Church even though I’m basically an agnostic.

    On my mom’s side, my grandfather had a memorial service, as he was not religious, though attended Methodist churches occasionally.


  1. I could immediately relate to how this sudden death will kind of “suspend” life. Saturday, here in Italy, a 25 year old soccer player died while playing on the field – and though I don’t follow Serie B Soccer and didn’t even know the guy – it triggered a series of thoughts and contemplations on life.
    When my father passed, he too wanted to be cremated – however, I am not into the viewing scene. I much prefer to remember him (or anyone tht passes) the way he was. We honored him with a memorial service.

  2. I’ve been wrestling with that too, Kevin, and I think that’s a great way to say it–“feeling a strong connection” to the church. I don’t attend much at all, despite believing in a higher power, an afterlife, and all of that. I believe that if I stick to being a man of integrity and generosity, God will want me to join the rest of my family no matter how many times I went and sat in the pew.

    Pierotucci, I don’t blame you for not wanting to get involved with the viewing…sometimes I look back on that time and think that dealing with Dad’s passing was harder than it needed to be because of it. Dad’s was open-casket, and though it was him, I still prefer to remember him youthful and holding all three of his young kids up at the same time.

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