The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Something I left out when detailing our Sunday beach trip: While walking along West Cliff Drive, we saw a little memorial for someone named Mike, presumably a surfer who had died. There were flowers, sheets of poetry protected in plastic, and a 16-ounce can of Budweiser.

The can of beer bugged me, and I spent awhile thinking about why. If meant as an offering one beer is too cheap. If meant as tribute to the dead's favorite activities, it's quite a backhanded compliment. I could see a surfboard or a musical instrument, but a beer? Is that what you want people to remember you for?

There seems to be an attititude that whatever means a family member or friend wants to use to mourn their loved ones is ipso facto appropriate. This attitude was on display during the infamous Paul Wellstone memorial -- one poster to VodkaPundit's comment page said "If Wellstone's family wants to have hookers parading on donkeys, that's their business" -- and several years ago, when Courtney Love screamed and ranted at Kurt Cobain's funeral.

I think that this is not right. The ways in which we respond to death are not for the benefit of the deceased, but for the living. It is important for people who have been touched by death to comport themselves with class and dignity, to show that the terror and sorrow of death and aging cannot crush the human spirit.



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