Sidenote: In Defense of “Just”

I was scrolling through Facebook the other day and a piece of independent journalism caught my eye. The title was inflammatory, the source was laughable (a cremation merchandise website), and I knew I should have just kept it moving, but, goddammit, Facebook caught me in a moment of “Ok Boomer” contrariness, and I shamelessly hate-read the shit out of this dude’s various theses.

Let me tell you, the discourse was scorching! Nihilist youths flouting tradition, the selfishness of choosing not to have a big sendoff… I mean, chief’s kiss, top shelf scholarship. An authentic Darvaza Crater of intra-industry cringe, if I’ve ever seen one. However, it was the kindling feeding the flames of this particularly gaseous sinkhole that bothered me enough to even write this post: the supposed phenomenon of a “just” mentality.

What is a “just” mentality you might ask?

According to the article, it is a limiting belief, part scarcity and part apathy, which erects artificial hurdles in the funeral planning process. For example someone might say “oh, we’re just cremating,” or “it’s just a simple service.” As the narrative goes, that statement is actually an overt, malicious and purposefully dismissive act, which ultimately minimizes the legacy of the deceased by depriving their extended social circle of closure (ie a massively expensive funeral).

Well, that’s it! The jig is up. This armchair detective has cottoned on to you penny-pinching, pagan atheists. Shame on you, scrooging Grandma out of the funeral she deserves. The stock market has never been this big, but you’re opting to upcycle her ashes into trendy DIY cement pots to shit in. What a sin!

Bro, Your Honor, I absolutely object. 

Planning a funeral for someone who has left no instructions (and, more often, no funds) is not an easy path to traverse. For anyone who needs to see this in writing, there is nothing wrong, bad, or undignified in having “just” a cremation, or “just” a small service. It is honestly quite the opposite.

For me, “just” is a powerful word. It gives agency, provides direction, communicates limits and sets boundaries. “Just” tells me that a person is informed and confident in their choice. As far as I am concerned, there is no question to be asked about the motive of “just.” After all, this person knew the deceased. This fact makes them uniquely qualified to instruct their funeral home on how to best honor their loved one’s memory. Not the other way around. The adage may be that funerals are for the living, but what is the point if the spirit of the event becomes unrecognizable? 

Anyway, I’m rambling. Bottom line, you’re entitled to have whatever the hell kind of funeral you want. Don’t let some asshole on the internet try to convince you otherwise.

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