Being Dead is No Excuse

Submitted by Christi


I collect two things, cookbooks and etiquette books new and old. One of my favorite books is a combination. It is called “Being Dead is no Excuse – The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral” by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays. This is no small thing. Really, funerals are one of the things we do really well in the South. As the aforementioned book says:

“Friends and family begin arriving with covered dishes, finger foods, and sweets as soon as word is out that some body has died”.

This is why all good Southerners keep a can of cream of mushroom soup in the pantry. You never know when you will need to make a covered dish casserole for a grieving family.

After my dear Daddy’s premature demise, my Mama remarried another wonderful man who happens to be a Baptist minister. They have great funeral stories. When the hearse wouldn’t start for the ride to the cemetery at one funeral, they took it in stride. They loaded the loved one in the back of one of the pall bearer’s new red pickup truck and with pall bearers on either side they led the rest of the bereaved to the cemetery.

When we were leaving the church after my Daddy’s funeral we noticed three elderly women in the foyer crying their eyes out. We didn’t think that was strange because Daddy was a wonderful, well-loved man. However, later when we were talking about it, we realized that none of us knew who the ladies were. Daddy was buried in our home town but we had all moved away long ago so we were not familiar with the current professional funeral goers but we appreciated them showing up to show Daddy their respect just the same, bless their hearts.

I have had some great times at the home of the deceased, laughing and remembering the loved one and catching up with people I hadn’t seen in ages. Although these are sad occasions, they are rarely without some moments of levity. I recommend the “Being Dead is No Excuse” book to anyone, Southern or not. Of course, if you are not Southern, some of it may make no sense to you. If you are Southern, you will probably be nodding your head and laughing out loud.

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3 Responses to “Being Dead is No Excuse”

  1. pendy Says:

    Just found your blog…and had to tell you that I agree, this book is hilarious AND chock full of great recipes. The best humor comes mighty close to the truth, doesn’t it?

  2. Betty Eshenour Says:

    Just helped with a Memorial luncheon on Saturday. I grew up in the South and I think I would enjoy this book. Yes, you’re right, food starts being delivered within 24 hrs. after the word is out. My dear Mother said that her refrigerator had never had so much food in it before. She was right too. We had enough food to feed our 20 plus relatives for 3 days. Remember when they used to put a white wreath on the door of the deceased?Guess for security reasons, they don’t do that anymore. Ever attended a funeral held in the home of the deceased? I remember attending one of those with the casket holding the deceased in the living room. In doing genealogy research, I’ve come across old obits that say the body would lie in state at the home of the deceased or of a relative.

  3. Betty Eshenour Says:

    I seem to be hogging this space as memories start creeping back in to me. Years ago, funeral were so morbid, very solemn. Nobody spoke a word out loud. The new funerals are A Celebration of the Deceased life and the memories that come forth are so comforting to the family and friends of the deceased. It does not take away from the respect of the beloved at all. To me, it shows how much that person was loved and what a full and fun life he or she led and how he impacted other’s lives.

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