My Mazamet

Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho

Death & Taxes


There was a dead pigeon in the garden yesterday. I didn’t know what to do with it. I was terribly tempted to fling it into the neighbour’s garden or onto the street- but of course I did neither. I put it in a cardboard box and waited for Mike who then put it in a plastic bag and in the trash. Eyes wide open, bloody beak. Thoroughly unpleasant experience.

And speaking of death, we have a funeral to go to tomorrow morning. I’ve managed to successfully avoid such events for most of my life (only been to 3.) I think they are, in essence, unproductive rituals. People put much energy into embracing pain and loss and I don’t see what’s gained from that. Mike and I have agreed that we don’t want any sort of funerals for ourselves. Cremation and that’s that.

In other news, it’s tax month in France. This is my first declaration here and I’m reading everything I can find to understand the system. I’ve learnt the hard way you can’t just leave it all to accountants because if they make a mistake, you’re still responsible for it. You pay the fine, not themMy method in Spain was I’d do a declaration, the accountants did theirs and then we’d go over both. I was mostly concentrating on the apartments in 2015, so there’s not much to declare anyway. Hurray! 

21 comments on “Death & Taxes

  1. Esme upon the Cloud
    April 7, 2016

    “I think they are, in essence, unproductive rituals.” – I couldn’t agree more, and have myself managed to avoid all but two in my life. I’ll go if someone who is still alive desperately needs me there, other than that, it is in no way how I wish to remember someone.

    Shame about the pigeon, but good news on the taxes front!

    – esme upon the Cloud

    Liked by 2 people

    • The reason we’re going is exactly that- it’s important to the widow; otherwise I wouldn’t dream of it. The three I did go to I was still a child and didn’t have much of a choice.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Esme upon the Cloud
        April 7, 2016

        Members of the family say to me that they understand entirely why I do not wish to attend them, and think it’s perfectly reasonable. Then they add afterwards…”But you will come to mine right?!” – Hahahaha. I could say yes, they’d hardly know, but I don’t say that, I explain it again. This happens quite often the older the family members get I find.
        I’m sorry for your loss too, I meant to write that in the first comment, my brain is rarely centre stage these days.

        – esme.u.t.C

        Liked by 2 people

  2. foolsmusings
    April 7, 2016

    Oh yeah taxes…. damn! :p

    Liked by 1 person

  3. clubschadenfreude
    April 7, 2016

    I’ve never been to the part where the body gets stuck in the ground (such a waste of good pieces of land). I’ve been stuck with going to the “viewing” which is damn weird. Yep, there lays the decaying carcass of my mom-in-law, in the brass casket with rose china decorations that she can’t appreciate. As you, husband and I want no funeral. Cremation, composting, use on a medical school/forensic body farm, so much better than the idiocy of burial.

    I’d like to leave a lot of money to my friends so they can have a grand party. I’ll just be sad to miss it.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. karenjane
    April 7, 2016

    I’ve been to several funerals in recent years, mainly cremations where I’ve always thought what a waste it is to have a wooden coffin, when it’s only going to be burnt (I’ve told husband I want a paper bag to carry me into the furnace). The 3 burials (Uncle, Mum & Aunt) were all ‘Green’ funerals, the burial taking place at a lovely wooded ‘green’ burial ground in Nottingham, with only small slate plaques marking the plots, & only wild flowers can be planted, along with English native trees. It’s a lovely relaxing place to visit, but not what I want for my remains.

    Poor pigeon, I wonder if it died flying into one of your windows? We sometimes find birds which have done that, leaving horrible feathery outlines on the window. I’m used to finding dead birds/rodents due to having a cat who is an expert hunter, & I have no qualms about throwing the remains into the school field at the bottom of my garden….there is a large area of brambles & so no chance of any sensitive pupils discovering gruesome or skeletal remains.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The bird was too far from the house for it to have flown into the window- but we do get (at least once a day) a bird fighting with his reflection in the window. The first time it happened I went running to the kitchen thinking the dogs had gotten a hold of something- but no, it was crazy bird.


  5. Hariod Brawn
    April 7, 2016

    I think an intimate and informal memorial gathering, some weeks after the death and when the emotional dust has settled, can be a good thing. Funerals are rarely very successful in the sincerity stakes it seems, and are rather treated as social gatherings by many older folk here in England – what’s not to like: free sherry and sandwiches, maybe even one or two of those fancy vol-au-vents that posh people eat? Seriously, I’ve been to a few that felt like that. I’m not having a funeral, and neither did either of my parents.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. acflory
    April 7, 2016

    I had to organize funerals for both my Mum and Dad and…I’m really glad I had so much to do. Going through the old photos and writing a sort of precis of their lives was my way of mourning them. Not sure what I would have done without that buffer. Not sure what I want for my own burial either. Ah well, hopefully I’ll have a while yet to think about it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Clare Flourish
    April 7, 2016

    I would like to know why you have to go to the funeral.

    My mother’s: the doctor visited to confirm death (at home not in hospital) and I wondered why I was not crying. That is what you are supposed to do, right? She lay in the coffin in the spare bedroom, laid out nicely in a new dress, and I kissed her (it’s so strange to me when people say “It wasn’t them any more”, I kissed her) and was able to weep. I had another good weep at the funeral, and a third a few months later at the second movement of Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto in the Bridgewater Hall. And another in a chapel on Mothering Sunday four years after.

    Funerals can be a place of conventional piety- or a place of being in touch with authentic human feeling and sharing that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They were extremely kind and helpful when we arrived in France- and the widow is a devout Catholic who believes in these traditions…


      • Clare Flourish
        April 8, 2016

        I got angry with a friend who insisted she did not want a funeral. The funeral is not for her, but for her daughter. It should be the daughter’s decision. A Catholic funeral might be some consolation and healing for a Catholic!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. dpmonahan
    April 7, 2016

    I see you’ve never gone to an Irish funeral.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Cara
    April 7, 2016

    When you’re Italian (or Italian-American) a funeral is a sort of pageant. Everyone parading in their best black dress, men in diamond-encrusted pinky rings and custom suits. Of course an Italian funeral is more about the attendees than the guest of honor. It’s about who shows who respect (“Did you kiss Uncle Paulie hello…you can’t sit down until you go say hello to your Uncle Paulie”; it’s an opportunity to talk about people behind their back, right to their face (“Paola, you’re glowing, when is the baby due? [Paola answers that she’s not expecting & moves out of earshot] Woof, Paola really put on weight, did you see, Maria?”); it’s an opportunity to plan for the future (“You know, Corrado, we’re not getting any younger, maybe we should think about buying a double plot”); it’s an opportunity to lie to ourselves (“Nonna really looks good, God rest her soul” WHEN WE ALL KNOW THAT NONNA IS DEAD AND MADE UP LIKE A TWO DOLLAR WHORE). And finally, it’s an excuse to stuff ourselves with eggplant, chicken parmigiana, the penne alla vodka, too many cannoli, and too goddamn much grappa.

    I want to be cremated when I go. I don’t know yet where I want my ashes scattered, but I don’t want them in an urn on anybody’s mantle, like a shrine or something. I am not a deity, I don’t want or need a shrine, that much I know. And I don’t want or need a funeral either.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. tildeb
    April 7, 2016

    Oh, you people.How many times have you heard the saying, “You only get out of ____ what you put into it.” Therein lies the meaning and it puts you in the driver’s seat.

    Rituals are important – some more than others and some more meaningful to the participants than others, but still an essential aspect to living well.

    Regarding funerals, listen to those who have been unable to bury (or cremate) a loved one because there’s no body. Without necessarily knowing why, these folk usually have to endure very complex and lasting grief (the deeper the emotional bond, the greater the grief). This indicates there is an important biological aspect to the ritual of a funeral (and not how tragic the dying might have been nor the amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth) that is psychologically helpful… even if we don’t understand why.

    Such rituals are public displays of private yet meaningful change. It’s the change that is important for everyone to recognize and the ritual allows us to participate at the beginning in this new state of affairs. That participation then changes us, our roles, our relationships, our positions, reformats our place in the various communities of which we are a part.

    How many times have you heard the saying, “Funerals are for the living.” Therein lies its purpose and, again, it puts you in the driver’s seat.

    The funerals I attend are cathartic. Family ties – close and extended – have an opportunity to be strengthened. The rituals are varied and some rather bizarre but I’ve never attended a reception (or ‘viewing’) that wasn’t boisterous and filled with laughter and a renewed zest for life. I would like to think I played no small part in turning some far-too-somber gathering into a memorable and life-enhancing memory for all involved.

    A simple way to come at these sometimes weird events is to turn it around: you’re dead. Now, how do you want those nearest and dearest to you to feel about your death and your life’s lasting effects? Now do that for others.

    As for the bird, why not bury it in the garden and use death as it was meant to be used: to bring forth change and new life?

    Liked by 2 people

    • In the case of people who can’t bury a body, do you not think the (extra) grief is a learnt behaviour? We’re told, mostly by religious groups, of the importance of “laying a body to rest”.
      It seems to me there’s (often) a theatrical aspect to grieving. To be seen suffering.
      I did consider burying the bird, but then there would have been the risk of the dogs digging it up.


  11. jerbearinsantafe
    April 7, 2016

    Sadly I’ve been to way too many funerals, wakes, etc. as a person on the front lines of the AIDS crisis. I’ve seen services done well but other times they were all form and no substance like Catholic masses where the priest would deliberately hide the fact that the deceased had been gay and died of AIDS. There were times an open casket should have been a closed casket and in one of the most hateful actions the family of a Trans woman stripped her of her gender identity, put her in a suit, cut her hair and used her dead male name. That period of my life still gives me nightmares. It was a never ending succession of hospital visits, wake and funerals whilst working to do what you could to gather resources to keep someone alive, attending ACT-UP protests to draw attention to government or pharmaceutical companies inaction, or conducting street and bar/club outreach trying to prevent new infections. There are many people from my generation in the LGBTQ community who quietly cope with PTSD brought on by living through those years. One song brings it all flooding back; Bette Midler’s a Wind Beneath zMy Wings which was a funeral service staple in those days.


  12. Helen Devries
    April 7, 2016

    I went to a number of funerals in rural France…and to the house visits beforehand – where the family had to be sure to get the refrigerated bed from the undertaker if the death took place in midsummer.
    It was solidarity.


  13. theoccasionalman
    April 10, 2016

    I agree. When I was music director at my church, I had to do the music for funerals all the time. They were largely full of family that had never been to our (or any) church, and I couldn’t sympathize with their grief. Even with the loss of my grandparents these last few years, I just can’t connect with people who are so attached to their families that they parade their devastation in public.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


This entry was posted on April 7, 2016 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , .
%d bloggers like this: