Eoin Butler: writer, journalist and Mayoman of the Year

Tripping Along The Ledge


The top 5 funniest things people said to me when my father died

The recent death of my father was undoubtedly the least funny event of my entire life. It came as a savage shock to me, like a stranger approaching me on the street and punching me in the face. Read the rest of this article here.

December 10th, 2011.

15 Responses to “The top 5 funniest things people said to me when my father died”

  1. Jenny Foxe Says:

    Nice piece. I often wonder why things can seem so funny at funerals especially when you were close to the deceased. It’s almost like our own mind trying to distract us from the pain by making us laugh. This reminds me of when my grandfather died. While he was laid out and we were dealing with the outpouring of condolences and ham sandwiches from well meaning neighbours, his sister, an elderly lady, returned downstairs from where she had been paying her respects and whispered ‘Doesn’t he look just like himself?’ This reduced my aunt (his daughter) and I to tears laughing much to the poor old lady’s befuddlement.

    Anyway, as meaningless as it sounds, sorry for your loss.

  2. Fred Says:

    Hope this isn’t an inappropriate comment Eoin but where did you get those deadly combats?

  3. Brigie MacGowan Says:

    I was devestated with my Dad died a few years ago but when the priest was saying a few prayers after the Undertakers had prepared him in the coffin, he called my Dad by the wrong name. My sister and I were the only ones there and I hadn’t the heart to say anything to the young priest. I wanted to really laugh out loud and had to try very very hard not to do so, I think it was just a moment of madness in the sadness of him dying, which I felt very guilty about afterwards. I now think of it and can laugh about it, the poor priest he was trying so hard to be really holy and meaningful…I think thats why I nearly lost it.

  4. speccy Says:

    My father was waked in the house, with the coffin in the bedroom. During a lull, there was only my mother and a local businessman in the room. He’d said his condolences and was probably hoping for some of the rest of us to return so he wouldn’t be leaving my mum on her own. To fill the silence, his mouth said ‘We have a headboard just like that’…

  5. Trich Says:

    I just read you blog about the “Top 5 funniest things people said to me when my father died”.

    Very human and real.

    I do hope your pain has eased somewhat, though it doesn’t ever go away.


  6. Eoin Says:

    Thanks all for your kind words here and on Twitter. Clearly, a lot of you have been through similar experiences.

    Re: the combats. Honest answer: if I recall correctly, I got the camouflage for Christmas as part a Mr T disguise kit that also included a Mr T mask and a fake denim waistcoat. (It was actually plastic.)

    If you look at the photo really closely, I’m also wearing camouflage runners. If jungle warfare had broken out, I’d have looked like just a head and torso.

  7. massey Says:

    Butler’s The BA Baracus years. If I may quote yer man from the commitments “aren’t you a little bit white for that”???

  8. Eoin Says:

    I also had a Mr T doll and a Mr T moneybox. If you see this Conan interview, the doll he shows at the beginning is the same one I had.


  9. Eoin Says:

    Okay, I just went on a bit of a Mr T YouTube binge. This car crash 1985 Letterman interview is just… must see.

    Part 1

    Part 2

  10. Hairy Says:

    Gorgeous piece. I lost my own father almost twenty years ago now. RIP. This article brought back an awful lot of memories, both happy and sad. Great writing.

  11. Hairy Says:

    P.S. love the camoflag trainers. But what are you holding in your hand? I could be wrong but looks like a WW2 canteen. I am wrong amn’t I?

  12. Eoin Says:

    @ Hairy – It’s a set of binoculars that once belonged to my deceased great uncle George, who I referred to in the “I’ll Be Leavin’ In The Mornin'” post last week.

    (He was the school teacher who duped a generation in believing the Monday after an All-Ireland final was a bank holiday.)

    Actually, I went to see Mayo in the league with my regular (but no less great) uncle George in Croke Park a fortnight ago & he reckoned the binoculars were promised to him, but mysteriously made their way into my father’s possession after great uncle George’s death.

  13. sharon kehoe Says:

    When the hospice nurse in Detroit called me in Maine to tell me my Father had passed away I said” Are you sure he is dead?” Long pause. ” I am a hospice nurse and I checked from the feet up to the brain for a pulse and he is dead.”
    And I said, “And you are sure he is dead?” And she said,”Iam sure.”
    He was 93 trying for 103, his fathers age, at time of death.

  14. KitCat Says:

    Nice piece. It’s really funny how people sometimes can’t stop the word-vomit from coming up during awkward/sensitive moments. My 30yr old brother passed away a year ago after a short illness. After i’d been back at work about a month one of my managers came up to me and asked me had my mother ‘gotten over’ my brother’s death yet. I burst out laughing. I knew what he meant, he meant to ask how she was coping, but he was an awkward and shy man at the best of times and it just came out all wrong. Of course, he was mortified and ran away with his tail between his legs.
    It’s the funny things like that, the most inappropriate things during hard times that really get you through. I have a million memories of the time spent in the hospice with my brother where we’d laugh at really serious and inappropriate aspects of his illness, it’s all you can do. And they’re the memories that will last almost the longest.

  15. Eoin Says:

    @ Sharon – Wow, 93 is still some age!

    @ KitCat – God, even allowing for the way people tend to become a bit flustered around grief, that was still an astonishingly stupid thing to say.

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