by Jonathan - to return to my main home page click here
Mark Lynn Higbee memorial page
created to be a place on the web which will be more honest about his life and death - by the so called black sheep in the Higbee family who are willing to be more honest
1. Posted August 9, 2006: A copy of comments I made about the funeral of Mark on an exmormon mailing list at yahoogroups
2. A web journal (blog) I created where you could help contribute content.
3. If you have submissions, such as pictures of comments of your own you'd like added to either this page or to my the blog page I created, or links you want added where you have your own comments listed, then send an initial email to (do not send photos nor attachments initially):
4. An obituary for Mark. And a guestbook associated with it. I don't know how long it will be online. You can view a backup of the posts I found on there as of August 10, 2006 here.
Date: August 8, 2006 11:42PM - as posted to the exmormon list at yahoogroups dot com
A travesty for a funeral
Today I attended the funeral for my nephew Mark. You can read his obituary [by clicking here.]
Here is my preliminary evaluation:
As far as I can tell Mark was a progressive and probably not a strong believer [in Mormonism]. Mark's father and mother could in my view be fairly described as ultra Mormons (and at times nazi Mormons).
If all Mormonism just was about putting out fairy tales which help comfort those who loose loved ones, then I wouldn't have as much of a problem about this type of situation, or with how his funeral was handled. But we all know that Mormonism is much more. In Mormonism one is not free to speak one's mind, nor are we free to be who we are within the culture. And so, the culture itself serves as a highly destructive force within society.
Based on what I know of Mark's own recent positions on Mormonism, I would say that what happened today was about 20% useful and about 80% a self serving travesty, and a dishonor to Mark's own feelings about what Mormonism was. Mark was a progressive, and we all know that in Mormonism progressives are outcasts.
During the useful 20%, we learned that Mark was a good musical composer and performer, and a dynamic and friendly person. He was a deep feeling person, which I suppose is a common family trait. But he did suffer from ulcerative colitis, and he had huge unpaid medical bills.
So, a lack of nationalized or single payer health care, was as far as I'm concerned, a major contributing factor to his depression and situation.
Secondly, the fact that his own parents were so fundamentally and acutely brain washed, brain washed in a way which only the most ultra of Mormons can be, probably served as a corrosive effect on his own psyche. If one is a progressive or more of a free thinker, and if one has parents who offer no support for such a position, it does make life harder. So another contributing factor to his demise was the ultra super TBM [true believing Mormon] nature of his parents, and with how several of his siblings were ultra as well.
Mark did live in the Avenues area, and that should have been a help to him. But chronic medical problems, particularly with the bowels, and nearly insurmountable medical bills, all took their toll. And then there's the psychological impact of being a progressive free thinker when one's parents are still incredibly engulfed in the depths of Jim Jones style Mormon flavored punch.
The 80% travesty and dishonor from the funeral today resulted from the following key elements:
Upon consultation with family members who have consulted with close friends of Mark, we have been able to surmise that within the past two months Mark probably did not attend any Mormon meetings, and that he probably was not a regular attender prior to that time also.
So, was an ultra Mormon funeral, which had Mark dressed in temple clothes, really honoring his memory?
Was a funeral which largely felt like a big Amway convention where we were all told "if you repent you can be with Mark again some day" really in line with Mark's own positions on Mormonism?
Was a funeral where it was purported that Mark was a true believer after all really honoring his memory, especially if he was not a true believer within recent months and years (as seems the case based on preliminary research)?
Maybe Mark was merely a Jack-Mormon. But why do ultra Mormons, upon the death of so-called Jack-Mormons, organize funerals for such people in such a way as to belittle and denigrate the life experiences and deeply held feelings of those who have rejected, even in part, the crazy fucked up nature of Mormonism?
I am not going to kiss the bum of the hostile alien Mormon god just so that I can perhaps see my nephew again. If another nephew of mine who's gay is right, and if there's a more benevolent hereafter, then perhaps all the ultra nazi type Mormons will be surprised on who shows up in heaven. But as an atheist and a realist and a science advocate along the lines of Richard Dawkins and Carl Sagan, I am currently most likely to conclude that I will not see Mark again, nor will I see other cherished fellow animals and humans who I've known. Instead, I find value in transcending such thoughts via advocating that we work for a better future via having more rational and more reasonable methods of educating our brains. I suppose this approach is better known as humanism or secularism, and it's an approach common to western Europe.
So, in honor of the life of Mark Higbee, here's a short list of things I advocate right now:
1. If a person is a Jack or Ex or Non-Mormon, for god's sake do not give them a funeral which is little more than an Amway-type convention intended to get people to kiss the ass of the hostile alien Mormon god.
2. If you're a person who feels deeply about things - a creative person who is somewhat of a romantic, and who others see as dynamic and witty and thoughtful and deep-thinking... If you're having a hard time, be sure to try and increase your circle of friends, so as to enhance your own support system.
3. At times try to realize that the little things you do can affect people in big ways both positively and negatively.
4. If in the end you find you must resort to the ultimate sacrifice of your own being, at the very least be sure to a.) write up a long note stating why you are doing what you are doing, and b.) write up a will stating what type of funeral you want so that your memory and stances on key life issues will not be dishonored.
Mark did reportedly have a supportive group of friends, and when he came over the other day, he seemed relatively happy and responsive. But sadly there was a familiar darkness in his mind which was apparently deeper than I was aware.
With the recent war mongering and love for blood which has been so prevalent in recent days weeks and months and years, I can see that this is a dark time. Pharisees I suppose tend to reverse the meaning of the scriptures they claim to believe in, where they assume that it's the war makers who will be blessed. But there are people even in Utah who have some more morals about life and peace, and ironically the closer one gets to downtown Salt Lake the more there are.
The so-called black sheep in my family will be making our own statements and natural recriminations. I suppose in hind sight I could have done more to reach out. But as far as we knew he had a sufficient matrix of friends to buoy him up. I guess we or I was wrong. And when we live in our own selfish world which we are having a hard time wallowing around in and jumping out of, often we have no idea what's going on in the brains of our fellows.
One of the last things I said to Mark around August 1st was "I wish I had left Mormonism when I was eight. My whole life would have been better as a result."
Now, if I had ulcerative colitis, and parents who didn't support my progressive free thinking thoughts, and if I had insurmountable medical bills, I probably would be more fragile. So did my comments help push him over the edge? Maybe. Although I think he agreed with my comments. So maybe not. He was probably closer to the abyss than any of us realized. But I wish he would have been more open with people like me, since I probably could have helped him more than some of my more brain washed fellows.
For what it's worth, I'm sorry that I wasn't a better support for him. He was the one who did what he did. But he wasn't an island, and his death resulted from a complex multi-point failure on the part of several people and entities.
Perhaps these observations will be of use to others.
Here are excerpts from responses I received as a result of the above posting:
Subject: Re: [Exmormon] A travesty for a funeral
Date: Wed, 9 Aug 2006 02:53:40 EDT
This was a wonderful post to the list. Your thoughts about your nephew's list show how deeply this has affected you. Mark was lucky to have you for an uncle.
Subject: Re: [Exmormon] A travesty for a funeral
Date: Wed, 09 Aug 2006 08:51:09 +0100
Here in the UK I get asked to conduct lots of funerals. Lots. People go to the undertaker, and when asked say they don't have a minister but would like one to take the service, so the undertaker recommends me.
When I get to meet the family my first question always is, "How religious do you want it to be?" Usually the answer is, "Not very." So I have done a number of humanist services, and even a Buddhist one.
If the answer was "Not very," I then ask, "What do you want me to wear?" Usually it is my normal clerical garb: suit, dog collar and gown. But I have taken services in motor-cycle leathers, a Hawaiian shirt or T-shirt and jeans.
My job is to provide a service in keeping with the deceased's presumed wishes. Not to thrust my own religious views down the throats of those attending.
John, Essex, England.
Subject: Re: A travesty for a funeral
Date: Wed, 9 Aug 2006 08:06:59 -0700 (PDT)
I am sorry about your nephew. It shows how suffocating religion can be, how it can rob you of who you really are. I am so grateful I left while my children were babies, they have freedom I didn't have as a child...and they don't carry the burdens I had to carry. And It is sad that his funeral wasn't about him and his pain..it was about the church . So in the end he didn't get validation for his pain. I have told several close people in my life to make sure if I die that my mother doesn't turn it into a mormon fest, because I know she would. I don't want my obituary to read anything about the mormon church because it is not who I am . I am in SLC right now visiting my sister ( I live in Ny) and I am having a hard time not being cynical. I head to a huge mormon family reunion on Thursday at Lagoon, it should be interesting. I loved your post and again I am sorry.
Copy of obituary as from the Salt Lake Tribune link (which may expire after a short time) here, which is why I've copied the text below...
Mark Lynn Higbee 1979 ~ 2006 Mark Lynn Higbee, beloved son, brother, and friend, was born January 5, 1979 to David and Annette Higbee in Salt Lake City, UT. On August 2, 2006 he ascended to the loving arms of our Heavenly Father. He suffered for years from ulcerative colitis and depression. He leaves a legacy of laughter, light, charisma, charity, respect, and sincere love for so many. Mark always filled our lives with cheer. He was a talented guitarist and song writer with a beautiful voice. He graduated from Copper Hills High School in 1997. He attended Snow College and the University of Utah. He served honorably in the LDS Arizona, Tuscan Mission. He was a manager for Biaggi's restaurant and thoroughly enjoyed his time and friends there. His greatest joy came from serving others and seeing them happy. Mark is survived by his parents, David and Annette Higbee of Helena Montana; siblings, Madelyn (Mike Mendenhall), David (Evangelina Teves), twin sister, Melanie, Andrea (Ariel Aguin), Andrew, John, Kristin, and Janessa; grandparents, Jack and Helen Higbee; many adoring aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews; and special friend, Cheryl Lynn Strachan. Funeral services will be Tues. Aug 8, 2006, 12 noon at the LDS church, 9800 S. 3800 W. (Dunsinane Dr). Family and friends may visit prior to services from 10-11:45 a.m. A memorial fund has been established in Mark's name at Wells Fargo Bank.
Published in the Salt Lake Tribune on 8/7/2006.
Click here to go back up to continue reading my evaluation of the funeral.