Current/Recent Reading List

07 January 2007

All Our Bad News, Contd.

I won't dwell on it, I promise. But since most of this blog is dedicated to daily school life, I'll touch on the memorial service that was. Perhaps our school district is just weird, or perhaps other schools do this, but Friday marked the second funeral memorial service in five months to be held in our auditorium. School was actually dismissed early, and the casket was actually rolled in and put in front of the stage. The procession drove up, and the large family walked in. No less than two Baptist preachers gave eulogy sermons with enough bad cliches for a lifetime, and there was a fair share of over-emotive contemporary spiritual songs with accompanying soundtracks played from the booth. There was a PowerPoint presentation produced by the funeral home which, whatever it's purpose, served as a perfect catalyst for making emotionally raw teenagers (and a few family members) sob even more loudly.

Much of this is a function of the Southern love affair with sentimentality, I think. Much of it is also a function of the way our general culture spurns the idea of dignity. For every dignified moment of the service, there seemed two moments of public wallowing. I just don't know that it was good for my poor, sweet student to mount the stage and attempt to say a few barely perceptible words about her boyfriend through her heaving and crying. Maybe it's just me, but if I were her parent or grandparent, I would have discouraged that scene.

Again, sorry for the hard heart I fear I'm displaying. But I just believe, in these situations, that many people aren't trying to help our kids grieve as much as they are encouraging a cult of suffering. As an example, I'll point to the sister of the murdered senior from the beginning of the school year. She has, apparently, been almost uncontrollable in class; she's behaving like a brat, and feels entitled to, it is believed, because her sister was killed and people have indulged her. I really, really hope that doesn't happen to this poor girl, my student, as well. She is only in tenth grade, for God's sake, and while she loved her boyfriend, he was not her husband. She still has a life to live; we need to love her and support her, but not turn her into a living martyr.

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