My Little Etiquette Shop: Lessons Learned at…a funeral?

Last week was quite a week. A fair bit of time was given to supporting a grieving family who lost their mother, our neighbor.

Her funeral brought out my contemplative side.  The service was unique, in that the rabbi thought he was a stand up comedian.  At first I braced myself: this was a train wreck.  Knowing he wasn’t someone who knew the family well, but had met with them briefly the day before, I dreaded where he was going with his goofy humor.  However, bit by bit, he charmed everyone in the room (myself included) with his puns, and the way he spoke more about the people present than the one who was gone. He really brought her to life in the way he “riffed” on each meaningful relationship, right down to mock-lecturing her son’s boss saying, “keep an eye on him.”

I love and respect Jewish culture, our wedding was quite traditional. But, as an employee at a floral design studio, and lover of flowers I am comforted by flowers at funerals, which are contrary to Jewish tradition. (I’ll let wiser folk explain).  One woman at the service brought flowers, completely innocently.  The same jovial rabbi spoke a little too sharply to her for my taste about the fact that they were “not allowed.”  From the row behind her, it looked like she felt bad. I often mangle Emily Post’s famous quote about how keeping people comfortable around you makes your behavior proper, no matter what. We’ll make the exact quote lesson 1 from yesterday, followed by the other two.

1) Mind your manners “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” -Emily Post.  Don’t make people feel bad, especially in a sensitive situation like a funeral. <ahem Rabbi…>

2) Trust a professional to do their job. That Rabbi wasn’t going to risk corny humor if he didn’t know where he was going with it, and that he would be able to touch people. Have a little faith, and even when things seem like they are going wrong, they are most likely going to turn in the right direction.

2) Laugh when you want to cry. This is of course a very serious application of that principle.  But it applies in so many situations. If you reflexively tear up in response to a bizarre/awful/terrible/shocking event in your life, take a deep breath, and try to reframe. There’s got to be something funny about what happened. You just have to find that piece of it and let it tickle you.  It takes the air out of almost anything, and you can begin to put the pieces back together.

Have a happy, grateful week everyone! Count your blessings.

Be well, and love well.

Dinah

 

 

A Question Of Faith. When Should Religion Enter The Dating Picture?

Picture taken at at Masters of Lindy Hop and T...

Somewhere between dancing and the movies, it's good to touch base with someone you're dating about their thoughts on religion and its place in relationships. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So the Easter baskets are put away, and matzah munching will wrap up in a few days ( The Jewish holiday of Passover requires eating no leavened bread for a week, but substituting crackers called “matzah”). So issues of religion and faith are fresh in our minds.  Religion and romance sometimes create complicated situations.

Many people think that religion doesn’t matter when you’re “just dating.” But is that really true? After all isn’t the point of dating to find someone who you want to “get serious” with? And after serious come weekends away, meeting parents, and family holidays and all of a sudden there you are on a hill at sunset with a sparkler on your left hand.  Is after the ring hits your finger, but before you say “yes” the point you want to find out your darling dearest expects you to be baptized before your wedding day?

Changing religions, or becoming an atheist, is no small matter. Most faiths require classes, and individual and/or couples’ counseling. This is not changing your clothes, it’s changing who you are. Is that something you are prepared to ask of someone? Or to undertake yourself?

Perhaps it’s not actually when to talk about religion that needs rethinking, but what “dating” means, which after all is a much more complicated question.  So however you choose to resolve this important point get going on some meaningful communication between you and this person you’re starting to enjoy spending time with. Like with the relationship – start a conversation and see where it takes you.  Hopefully you’ll be headed to that hill at sunset, where you’ll have all the info you need to say “yes!”

 

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