I don’t like funerals, and this year has seen several people I have known over the years pass away. People that I went to school with, parents of people I know, friends of friends near and dear, now departed. Some by natural causes, some at the hands of a drunk driver, some in ways I don’t even know, but the end result is the same. It is said that death and taxes are the only certainties in life, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept when someone close to you leaves for eternity.
Yesterday I attended the funeral of a close friend of my sister’s—the two of them were very close. Her friend and I were not as close, but she was the type of person who had a great personality. You could never feel down after you spent time with her. She always said or did something that made you smile, no matter how bad you might have been feeling. When you lose someone like that, it’s hard to accept and to deal with.
I’m not much on going to funerals. I don’t think it has anything to do with the crowds of people that congregate at funerals, even as I think some of my friends think that’s exactly why I don’t attend. But I don’t attend because they are often sad occasions, and who wants to be more sad once someone you love has died? However, I realized as I was at this particular funeral that funerals are needed. They are needed for the living, the grieving, those whose lives were touched by the departed, and those who just want or need to be reminded that life is precious—and that the life of the departed must be celebrated.
There is something to the point of pastors calling these funerals “celebrations.” Funerals should be and can be celebrations of life. The life of the departed, as well as the lives of those in attendance. Sometimes we just have to remember that the departed touched us in a way that made us feel emotions that made us feel good inside. Emotions that gave us something to brighten our day. And while there is often a lot of crying at funerals—I’ve cried at a few myself—there’s also, if the pastor is good enough and the people in attendance have good memories of the departed, some laughter. Remembrances of good times with a good person, that can also bring one to tears.
I will admit that I had a sense of dread about going to that funeral yesterday. I didn’t want to be there to see people grieving, crying and upset that a person who was loved by many was gone too soon. But as I was there, I saw that those in attendance who were the closest to the departed needed this occasion to be encouraged to go on. To feel the strength of the people in the church to lift their spirits. To sit with them, hug them and tell them that while they are sorry for their loss and offer sympathy, to show them how much their loved one was loved and appreciated for the time they were here on this earthly plane.
I’m never going to like funerals. But I have a better understanding now why we need them.
P.S. Somewhat off-topic, but yet a little related. Can we please stop liking Facebook statuses that announce when someone has died? Do we really like that?