The Rhein-Zeitung put out this article....which is an interesting piece over a recently developed custom in Germany....particularly in the Saarland area.
Funerals in Germany now occur.....where an older gentleman or lady has passed on, and no relatives or friends attend the funeral. An American would be quizative and ask stupid questions.
The trend tended to lead back to a generation which grew up in tight circumstances, and limited friendships were made. Sadly, a German could be married...go through life.....see his wife pass on....and be able at age seventy to count only two or three friends within his circle. Cousins, relatives, church-members, neighbors, associates? Because of the German habit of tight friendship circles.....they were on the outer boundary.
So as this older German has reached an age with almost none of his tight circle around.....there is the death and the funeral. Sadly, it's the minister, and an organist who show up at the graveyard chapel and conduct the ceremony. So the locals in the Saarland started a campaign where they asked for volunteers to come and attend.
You'd shake your head, and note how American circumstances are quiet different. No one would ever show up at a stranger's funeral. Well.....it's gotten to the point here, where the minister questions this empty chapel and the trend.
There are, according to the newspaper.....roughly twenty funerals a year in this town of Laubach....where no relatives can be found. No sons, no daughters, no cousins, no relatives, period. This German has died as a stranger in a community....that they lived in for years....if not decades.
It's hard for an American to envision this. Someone working their entire life. Someone likely in their seventies or eighties. Death finally comes. And there is a funeral with no real audience. The guy or gal probably deserved more.....but it's cultural standard of a tight circle of friends, and most of them have all passed.