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quotations about funerals

Funerals are the rituals we create to help us face the reality of death, to give us a way of expressing our response to that reality with other persons, and to protect us from the full impact of the meaning of death for ourselves. Some funerals fulfill these functions beautifully. Others fail.

ALLA BOZARTH CAMPBELL, Life Is Goodbye, Life is Hello

Nowadays, the only occassions that seem to bring families together are weddings and funerals.

JULIA MCNAMARA, The Irish Face in America

Rather upsets a man's day a funeral does.


The way is short, O friend,
That reaches out before us;
God's tender heavens above us bend,
His love is smiling o'er us;
A little while is ours
For sorrow or for laughter;
I'll lay the hand you love in yours
On the shore of the Hereafter.

MARY CLEMMER AMES, "Words for Parting"

Never joke at funerals, or during business transactions.


People feel guilty enough at funerals without having more guilt heaped on. I would prefer a bighearted preacher giving my eulogy, someone inclined to widen heaven's doors. I don't want to leave folks wondering whether I made it.

PHILIP GULLEY, For Everything a Season

Funerals are pretty compared to death. Funerals are quiet, but deaths not always.

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, A Streetcar Named Desire

After Auschwitz, I no longer cry at funerals.

CHARLOTTE DELBO, Auschwitz and After

The dead do not know the value of white sheets.


Funerals aren't supposed to be funny.


Most souls attend their funerals and have some feelings about them, but it's such an individual event. Some souls don't care what happens to their physical bodies. They see the funeral as a ritual for the living so they don't always attend.

ECHO L. BODINE, Echoes of the Soul

Weddings and funerals. That's what religion is good for.

KATE COHEN, A Walk Down the Aisle

A funeral is not death, any more than baptism is birth or marriage union. All three are the clumsy devices, coming now too late, now too early, by which Society would register the quick motions of man.

E.M. FORSTER, Howard's End

In my recent experiences with death and funerals, I have come to appreciate the need for rituals, for the ceremony, where once I simply felt impatience, even disgust, at the whole procedure. It is hard, though, hard to make a meaningful ceremony out of death in America in our time. Certainly the funeral industry isn't interested in authenticity, it's interested in efficiency, profit, and assembly-line repetition.

ADOLF HESCHL, Das Intelligente Genom

A couch of thorns, or an embroidered bed,
Are matters of indifference to the dead.

THEOGNIS OF MEGARA, "Sumptuous Obsequies"

What could be more universal than death? Yet what an incredible variety of responses it evokes ... Funerals are the occasion for avoiding people or holding parties, for fighting or having sexual orgies, for weeping or laughing, in a thousand different combinations. The diversity of cultural reaction is a measure of the universal impact of death.

PETER METCALF, Celebrations of Death

Worldly faces never look so worldly as at a funeral. They have the same effect of grating incongruity as the sound of a coarse voice breaking the solemn silence of the night.

GEORGE ELIOT, Janet's Repentance

Funerals all over the world everywhere every minute. Shovelling them under by the cartload doublequick. Thousands every hour. Too many in the world.


Those who bequeath unto themselves a pompous funeral, are at just so much expense to inform the world of something that had much better been concealed; namely, that their vanity has survived themselves.


There was that feeling one gets in a ride to a cemetery trailing a body in a coffin -- an impatience with the dead, a longing to be back home where one could get on with the illusion that not death but daily life is the permanent condition.

E. L. DOCTOROW, Homer & Langley

It is extremely hard to have a funeral when you don't have anything to bury.


In the city a funeral is just an interruption of traffic; in the country it is a form of entertainment.

GEORGE ADE, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Feb. 1928

So when the friends we love the best lie in their churchyard bed, we must not cry too bitterly over the happy dead; because, for our dear Saviour's sake, our sins are all forgiven; and Christians only fall asleep to wake again in Heaven.


They say such nice things about people at their funerals that it makes me sad to realize I'm going to miss mine by just a few days.

GARRISON KEILLOR, "Lecture in San Francisco," Lake Wobegon Days


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