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Wednesday, October 5, 2022
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FUNERALS AND WEDDINGS

Funerals and weddings in the Islands never cease to amaze me.
The two are so seperate and different yet, they have so much in common.
Weddings are supposed to be joyous and funerals, sad. However, in both situations one cannot help but to compare the expense, the ceremony, the sentiments, the settings, the procession, and the reception.
Thousands of dollars are spent when preparing a corpse for burial with the cost of the casket ranging anywhere from 2 to 9 thousand dollars. Hundreds more are also spent on clothing for the dead with emphasis on the colors. Next of kin commenting on how the dead would want to look or what colors he or she would prefer to wear.
In the case of the wedding the rings cost thousands of dollars and the bride and groom's clothing cost a pretty penny with emphasis also placed on colors.
Wedding coordinators can be heard deciding what colors should be worn by the bride for what ever reasons or how lovely the couple would look in specific colors.
During the funeral service there is an unusual silence and so it is during the wedding ceremony. During the eulogy, the dead is praised with sayings of how good he or she was and how he or she was loved; and that he or she is not dead but is asleep in heaven. During the sermon of the wedding ceremony the bride and groom are told that their marriage is one made in heaven and that love conquers all.
Sentiments are shared at both occasions. There is crying. Crying for different reasons. Although crying is usually expected at funerals, sometimes however, the table is turned. For instance: when my father passed away 19 years ago I didn't shed any tears at his funeral. As a matter of fact I was very happy when he died because death was what saved him from a long painful battle with cancer. On the other hand though, I think I will cry at my daughter's wedding because I love her so much. The mere thought of her getting married makes me sad.
There are sympathizers at funerals offering condolences and well-wishers at weddings, congratulating.
Flowers, ribbons, and balloons are used to create the ambiance for each occasion. Beautiful, creative wreaths for the funerals and pretty, unique bouquets for the weddings. Vibrant colors are used at weddings while dull and mourning colors are used at funerals. Those attending both ceremonies are usually all dressed up in colors befitting each occasion.
Processions resembling motorcades go from the church or place of service to the burial ground (for funerals) and to the designated reception area (for weddings). In the case of the funeral, the prosession is slow and headed by a hearse. On every vehicle in the procession, there is a "funeral" sticker on the lower right side of the windshield. In the wedding's procession, the vehicles move a little faster while honking their horns. This procession is headed by several limousine or convertibles on top of which sits, the bride, groom and their entourage, waving occasionally to onlookers.
Then finally there is the reception. Oh yes! A reception is kept for both weddings and funerals in the Islands. After the end of the wedding procession, the couple and their entourage go off to a picturesque location for photo taking. The remaining guests wait at the designated reception area. Now, where the funeral is concerned, every one proceeds to the cemetery to witness the burial. Then the time that every one has been waiting for is now here. Every one meet at the reception. Food and drinks galore. Chit chatting and hugging. Guests getting reacquainted with visiting family and friends. The only way that a differentiation can be made between these two receptions is to listen very closely to the lyrics of the music playing.
There is an abstract sense of loss and a real sense of gain at weddings; at funerals, the loss is real and the gain is abstract.
However, at both occasions memories are formed. Be it happy ones or sad ones. On videos, in photos, signing registries, wearing corsages, taking home wedding and / or funeral booklets, or just right there with you … in your mind.
Agnes D. Nicholas
English 112
University of the Virgin Islands

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