They say marijuana is good for anxiety and stress. Well, there’s nothing more stressful than a funeral.
It’s one of those unsavory obligations that all of us, no matter how lucky we may be most of the time, must endure at some point in life.
One minute you’re going about your business, the same as any other day, the next you’re standing in a crowded funeral home wearing a pair of khakis that you bought for your last court date, paying respects to a beloved family member or friend.
Even if you and the deceased weren’t particularly close, chances are, if you’re part of the sullen group required to play casket guard morning and night, they were loved dearly by somebody close to you.
Funerals cannot be dismissed. You have to show up, if for no other reason than for moral support.
Nevertheless, everyone tends to agree that funerals suck. There’s lots of crying, sadness, and even guilt. Although “If there’s anything we can do, just let us know,” is heard often around the room, nobody really knows what they can do to make it better.
Outside the grieving that many experience over the dearly departed, there’s also the process of reacquaintance. Everyone is forced into a series of uncomfortable conversations with long lost cousins, aunts, uncles, their children and perhaps even a few strangers with a funny story to tell about the deceased.
In a lot of ways, the person in the coffin has it easy. They get to lay there in silence, eyes closed, while people say nice things about their life.
As for the rest of us, it’s one painful encounter right after another. Drop by any funeral home and rest assured you’ll meet dozens of miserable people who have reached the point where they wish they were the ones in the box.
I’ve been to enough funerals over the years to know that hanging around the dull drabness of it all isn’t a social activity that I particularly care to partake in. It causes me a great deal of stress knowing that death is looking to get on my schedule.
Hell, I’m stressed just thinking about how I might have to attend another one in twenty years or so. Not that I’m in a hurry.
Most people reading this can sympathize. I’ve been fortunate, though – knock on wood – not to have to show my face at too many end-of-life ceremonies in recent years. So, I guess it was to be expected that when my luck finally ran out – and everyone’s does eventually – it would run out in a big way.
Right before Thanksgiving, my family unexpectedly lost my aunt and uncle within days of each other. Someone in the family should have played the lottery. I mean, what are the odds? It meant having to attend two funerals at a time when almost everyone else in the country was feeding their faces, watching football and doing relatively nothing on the couch in a pair of pajama pants. And while I don’t wear pajama pants, I was willing to give them a whirl if it meant that I wouldn’t have to get all dressed up and spend the next several days being reminded of my impending doom.
In the days leading up to the wakes, I felt the looming sense of dread. It had been a long time since I had gone to one of these things and even longer since I had talked to anyone expected to be there. I was overwhelmed with anxiety, the kind that causes insomnia, stomach aches and headaches.
Although sad that my aunt and uncle had passed, that didn’t make having to spend the next few days inside churches and funeral homes, hugging this person and that, offering condolences, and above all else not knowing what to say to the teary eyed and distraught any more appealing. Although I sententiously searched for a trapdoor, there was none to be had.
When the time came, I desperately wanted out. I had no desire to see dead people or even live ones for that matter. The anxiety of having to actually go through with all this bereavement business was nothing short of unbearable.
So, as unwise as it may sound, I reached for cannabis edibles to take the edge off, something I needed in the worst way. Nothing too heavy, just 10mg. They say nothing rids trepidation quite like a little THC. I don’t know who “they” are, but in my time of desperation and dread I was willing to try anything to take me as far away from it as possible.
But let’s just say, short of flipping over the casket in protest and telling everyone in attendance to bite me, a more wrong decision I could not have made. Weed and wakes don’t mix.
No siree, by the time the edibles kicked in, I was surrounded by droves of people who had showed up to pay their respects. Every one of them, too, seemed suspicious of me, as if they were worried that I’d be the one to ruin their day further.
“Harold, make sure to double check that the Prius is locked, that guy over there looks like he might steal it to get some of that fentanyl we’ve been hearing about on the news.”
Only, they probably weren’t thinking anything negative at all. It was just the paranoia setting in, brutally hounding me, letting me know that everyone in the room could clearly see that I was stoned.
Weed would ensure that this was one of those teachable moments I wouldn’t soon forget. I mean, what was I thinking showing up high to a family funeral?
I was going to have to talk to people, be articulate even, and serve as a shoulder to cry on for my mom. My mom! I must have been out of my goddamned mind. This “medicine,” touted as a treatment for ailments from A-Z didn’t really serve to put me anymore at ease with the fact that I had to deal with some rather unsavory circumstances. It only made them worse.
The weed was mocking me throughout the tumultuous affair, inspiring clumsiness at the casket – watch it, Mike, you’re going to knock it over – stumbling all over my words – I’m really sorry, sorry that you’re sorry. I’m just really sorry – and presumably making weird facial gestures, ones resembling the crackheads outside my office, at the most inappropriate moments.
At one point, I found myself staring at my deceased relative far too long, just standing there thinking about the delicate nature of life and how it’s all gone way too soon, while a long line of mourners formed behind me waiting for my high ass to wrap it up.
Rest assured, all of my living relatives, at least the smart ones, walked away from the funeral that day knowing damn well that I wasn’t ever the guy to ask to be power of attorney or any other position that would require me to make important decisions as they slide into the terminal years.
It was a bad call getting high before the funeral, at least for me.
If you happened across this article because you were sort of thinking that cannabis edibles might make the funeral experience less unpleasant, let me stop you there. It won’t. I wouldn’t recommend it, not in most instances.
Now, had the environment been one where everyone else was in the same headspace, perhaps it would have been well received. But that just wasn’t the case.
Of course, learning from my mistake, I did not show up to the next one under the influence. Unfortunately, as expected, it was still a miserable experience.
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