The Stunning Ordinariness of Death

I went to a funeral, and I couldn’t stop focusing on the mundane

Adeline Dimond
Human Parts
Published in
8 min readFeb 28
People at the Fulton Street Subway Station in New York
Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash

My cousin Sam died on Thursday. On Sunday I flew to Virginia to attend his funeral, because Jews waste no time getting people into the ground. Someone asked me why we do it that way, and I had no idea.

I thought that flying to a funeral would somehow make the airport different but it was the same. I was annoyed at the ticketing kiosks that replaced humans. I was convinced that I’m guilty of something at the TSA checkpoint. I was thrilled to buy gossip magazines for $40 at the newsstand, relieved when I got to the gate, and convinced I was going to die on takeoff and landing.

A young, joyful kid with bleached blonde hair and many earrings was at the hotel check-in desk. He did not look like someone who would enjoy wearing a name tag, but he smiled the whole time while I awkwardly explained to him that I didn’t want to Uber to the funeral, I wanted a taxi. I liked this moment. Unlike all the other moments of the trip so far, it fit into the little movie in my head about how a funeral should go: There should be a scene when a perfect stranger looks at you with kindness, even if he’s paid to be kind.

I don’t know why I thought a taxi was more respectful or somehow more sacred than an Uber. I was wrong about that, because the taxi was a beat-up minivan that smelled like smoke, a pack of cigarettes in the drink holder. “I need to go to Hollywood Cemetery,” I said, assuming he already knew. “Which Hollywood Cemetery?” the driver asked. I didn’t know the answer to this either.

I pulled out my phone, scrolled to the email from one of my still-alive cousins and found the address. I tried not to think about the fact that there are —I guess? — corporate cemetery chains, because otherwise why would there be two locations? Do they franchise? is a thought I remember having.

This taxi did not fit into my little mental movie about how my cousin’s funeral was supposed to be. I was supposed to be solemn and sacred. I was not supposed to be nauseated in the back of a dirty minivan.

When we got to the cemetery there were arrows leading to the gravesite, but the taxi driver stopped at…



Adeline Dimond
Human Parts

Federal attorney, writing thought crimes on Medium. To connect: