by Susan G. Haws
Tuesday I went to the funeral of my friend’s mother. It was a good funeral, as funerals go. Funerals get me thinking of other memorial services I have attended: my father’s, grandparents’, aunts’, uncles’, friend’s son. I think of how I should prepare for my mother’s, mine. What do I want for a service for myself? What I want to have achieved. Am I ready to go? Am I ready to go for the right reasons? Am I ready for loved ones to go? I want to be there for my friend. I know how hard it is to lose a parent. The sales lady that helped me when I selected sympathy flowers had lost her young adult son. Death can be a shock, or you can have a few weeks to plan and ready your loved ones as best you can as this dear sister had. But this final goodbye is still painful; a deep cut, slow to heal.
Funeral services are for the living: a chance to share how important the departed person was to our lives. We need to know that their lives have meaning, significance beyond the mundane that we all get caught up in. We need to remember their good deeds, humor, achievements, and idiosyncrasies. Acknowledge we have lost an important person; a chance to reminisce with others that miss our loved one. We use words like lost, missing, gone, passed away, passed over. Our loved ones have gone where our bodies won’t let us go. Yet we know that husk of skin, tissue, and bone that housed their spirits that we are laying to rest was not the sum total of the person. Their personality lives on, somewhere we can’t go.
I wish I could say I had an epiphany and I am transformed to a totally better person but I am not. Yet each time I have the gut wrenching, soul searching experience of attending a memorial service I learn more about me, and the human experience. I have no doubt the departed are in a better place and are appreciative of our efforts to show respect and love.