Death brings out the emotional, the spiritual, and the logistical in us.
When someone dies in our family or community, Southerners respond the way we do in all other situations: We talk about it. (And then we start feeding everybody in sight.)
However, things Southerners say about the dearly departed are distinctive. Funeral quotes and preparation-for-funeral quotes are an interesting blend of the emotional, the spiritual, and the logistical. We’re mourning our own loss; we’re celebrating the eternal life of one going on to his or her Great Reward; and we’ve got a menu to plan.
If you live South of the Mason-Dixon and you’ve ever been anywhere near Mama’n’em when they received news of a death, chances are you’ve heard some of the following:
"Bless his heart, I guess it was just his time."
"Honey, if he’s not in a better place, the rest of us don’t stand a chance."
"When they wrote 'gone but not forgotten,' they were thinking of him."
"The whole church is gonna miss him. He was so faithful to keep the grass cut."
"Has the family been to the funeral home yet? His girls will spend a fortune on his casket."
"How old is the baby of the family—about 50? I hope they let her put his outfit together. She used to work at Belk’s."
"Reckon who’ll preach the funeral?"
"I hope the family calls Brother Tinsley out of retirement. This little whippersnapper we’ve got now is fresh outta seminary. He's not ready to preach a deacon's funeral."
"Is the family marching in? They should save his favorite hymns for when they march in and when they leave with him."
"You know he always said he wanted somebody to sing 'When They Ring Those Golden Bells' whenever he passed—that and some Gaither music."
"We could pretty much guess who the pall bearers will be."
"I'll bet you there’ll be a crowd at that funeral. We’d better get there early to get a good seat."
"Are they doing one of those slide shows with family pictures? I always enjoy those. Wonder if they’ll include his first wife?"
"Reckon I’ll have a good crowd at my funeral? I hope nobody brings a congealed salad. I despise those things."
"Are we feeding the family at his house or in the fellowship hall?"
"You know, I’ve about decided I like having the visitation right before the funeral. It’s so much easier on the family."
"I hope they don't bury him in his glasses. They look good on him, but he won't need those bifocals in heaven."
"They say his nephew the lawyer is doing the eulogy, so it ought to be really good. Lawyers have such fine speaking voices—and nice suits."
"Hallelujah, the Methodists are helping us feed everybody! They’ve got some outstanding cooks in that church. Plus we can borrow their silver coffee urn."
"Sure hope the weather’s nice. It’s so depressing to bury loved ones in the rain. And it just ruins your good shoes."
"People don’t dress for funerals the way they used to, and that’s a shame."
"Brace yourself. The choir director’s wife just called and said that teenager who does all the solos is singing with an electric guitar, God love her. Let’s just hope she leaves the drums at home . . . "
WATCH: 10 Things Only Southerners Know
Besides what to wear to a funeral—and how to behave when we get there—Southerners possess all kinds of useful information. For example, we know how to repair everything from a lawn mower to a prom dress with duct tape.