Friday, October 10, 2008

Funeral Procession

I grew up in the South, deep in the heart of eastern North Carolina. There were certain customs that we had there that I always assumed were practiced everywhere. When I moved out of NC and proceeded to move around the country as an adult, I realized that this wasn’t the case.

One of the things that I made an assumption about was the proper behavior when you encounter a funeral procession as you drive. Where I’m from, if you are driving along and a funeral procession is coming, you pull over to the shoulder and allow them to pass. (Even if you are on the opposite side of the road.) You do not, under any circumstance, try to drive again until the entire procession has ended. If you were of my grandparent’s generation, you may even get out of your car and stand next to it (if you were a man, removing your cap and placing it over your heart) until they passed. This shows respect for the family and friends of the person who has passed away.

Apparently, this is not common practice everywhere.

Where we currently live, I have been frustrated time and again by people just blowing right by as funeral processions are passing. Several months ago, I was sitting at a stop light, preparing to turn left. Coming from the opposite direction, the familiar police escort, headlights on and hazard lights flashing were coming to turn left in front of us. When my light turned green, the cars in front of me couldn’t turn because the funeral procession didn't have to obey the signal and continued to turn in front of us. A couple of the cars sitting at my light actually blew their horns in frustration of having to wait. I was furious. In their defense, they could have not realized what was going on and then felt like a complete jerk afterwards. I hope that was the case.

In the past two days, I’ve encountered two processions on my way to someplace where I couldn’t be late. One of those was for a fallen firefighter…I knew this because of the two fire trucks in the procession. Of course, I stopped. At the one for the fallen hero, the Jeep behind me stopped as well and actually turned on his hazard lights. The car behind him seemed furious. He continued to inch forward, trying to get the Jeep to move on. The Jeep would not be swayed by this bully. So, the bully tried to pass him. At this point, the man driving the Jeep put his hand out of his window to plead with the car to stop and show respect. He continued to try to inch around the Jeep.

Big Daddy and I were watching this happen. Seconds before this, I had gotten a little emotional as I was watching people drive as they cried for their loved one who was lost. Call me moody but I went from teary eyed to angry in a matter of seconds.

Where’s the respect, folks?

Big Daddy says that perhaps the other vehicle subscribed to the thought that you only have to wait for the family car and hearse to pass before you go. He’s much more generous than I am because I was thinking something entirely different.

How is this handled where you live? Am I nuts to expect people in today’s busy society to stop and show a little respect?


  1. Nope, you ARE NOT nuts. I whole heartily agree!


  2. I agree with you... it is the ultimate in disrespect to disrupt the last journey of the deceased. If our society is so rushed that we cannot take a moment to reflect on the pain that someone in that procession is feeling... or to say a prayer for the deceased or for the family, then something is terribly wrong. This happened to my cousin when she was taking her last journey to her resting place. The church was about 30 minutes from the cemetery, and involved a bit of a highway drive. Cars passed. Cut in. Cut off. And once at the cemetery, some of the mourners didn't arrive on time for the graveside rites. They got lost. My aunt was beside herself. Not only had her daughter died (43 years old... a mom of 3, wife, daughter, aunt, granddaughter, niece, cousin, friend, beautiful person... of breast cancer), but some very close family members and friends were not there. I will never forget how our tragedy was compounded by impatient people. I wish this would stop. I see it almost every day...

  3. I can't imagine not stopping.
    What in the world is so important that you don't have a minute to show respect. That blue light special at Kmart can wait!

  4. It is a sad reality in our world today - Self is the most important thing in many peoples lives.
    I too am a Southerner and wish more of the world could get some southern hospitality and charm. What makes me madder than not stopping for a funeral procession are those who won't pull over for emergency vehicles!!!! That 10 seconds may have saved a persons life yet all it did was get you to the red light up ahead faster than the next guy.

  5. No, really you are not nuts at all. I agree with you. Totally. I am a new reader:)