How old were you (approximately) when you attended your first funeral? Did your parents shield you from death and grief or was it viewed as a natural part of life? Did you experience any significant loss(es) in your growing up years? What were your early impressions of death and dying? And while I do not intend this in any irreverent way, are there any amusing memories associated with a death or funeral? If you have kids, how have you handled this subject with them? Feel free to share as vulnerably or as shallowly as you want!I have no recollection of funerals during my childhood. So I consulted my brother who has a very good memory. He mentioned three deaths that left an impression on him, but none involved our participation in any way.
When my maternal grandfather died we were ending our five-year term in Argentina. In those days international travel was not as common an occurrence as it is today, so Mother did not even consider possible to attend his funeral. Grandma Hirschy passed some 21 years later. I was married and had three children. Almost all of her offspring were present. The family by then numbered 100. That was my first funeral experience, a memorable event.
The one death that stands out in my childhood memories was that of Eva Perón. I had attended public school where large portraits of the dictator and his wife were everywhere and homage was regularly enforced. When Evita died we were out of the country, on our return voyage after a one-year furlough in the US.
I recently came across a letter where Mother describes the experience I remember most.
July 31st, 1952
"We anchored in the Río de la Plata about 7 a.m. and were unable to get a dock until about 3 p.m. Because of the mourning for the first lady ships evidently had lined up in the channel waiting to unload etc. For 3 or 4 days no one had worked at the docks so you can imagine what kind of a mess it is down there with baggage everywhere. Just before we got off the boat we had to stand still for 15 min. doing homage to the deceased. Like some man behind us said, you can make us shut up, but can't make us do homage to her."Her popularity and fame were unequaled among first ladies and her mausoleum in La Recoleta is probably the most visited tomb in South America.