Let me begin by saying that I apologize in advance about the mood of this post.
Hear me out and please, please tell me I am not crazy – or maybe I am.
As part of Max’s class preparation for their upcoming B’nai Mitzvah, they give the kids a funeral home tour to learn about death and its traditions in the Jewish culture. Yes, you read this right – funeral home. This event was mandatory for kids and parents to attend. When I first read about it, I was strongly opposed to it. I did not want to attend and I did not want Max to attend either, but I guess we had no choice – we had to go.
My first reaction was – who is doing a field trip to a funeral home, it’s not a theater, it’s not a museum, so why are kids as young as 13 years old being forced to learn about death?!
See, the way I grew up, death was a very gruesome and somber occasion. All of our parents were children of war and death to them and to us was associated with something horrible. Back in the USSR there were no funeral homes, so the bodies of the loved ones stayed in the same place with you until they were buried. Now, my American friends, just picture this: for 3 sometimes 5 days you have a dead body in your little apartment – this whole concept made me afraid of death in a major way. I never got over it and I am not sure I never will.
Today I saw how my child and his friends approach death, and I realized that they don’t really separate death from life, they accept the fact that all of them one day in their life will be faced with death and they should know how to deal with it.
They asked questions – I should say smart questions, they participated in discussions and they even laughed about it. I have to give kudos to a funeral director, who made this “field trip” light even for me, although I refused to look at caskets and see some other parts of the funeral homes. I stopped my education short and waited for my 13 year – old to finish the “tour” without me. Please tell me I am not being over dramatic about it. He is now in bed reading his book and laughing about his favorite character and I still can’t shake off the feeling that I just touched death…..