Friday, February 20, 2009

Funerals...something no one wants to talk about

Earlier this week I received a phone call from my best friend of 20+ years. She was notably upset and proceeded to tell me that one of her good friends from 10 years ago had passed away in a terrible car accident.

I had met the women twice in 20 years but know one of her brothers very well. We all used to run around together as teenagers and have maintained some contact over the years. The woman that passed had lead a very hectic life and while we all slowed down, she kept going. Understandably, my best friend had lost touch with her over the years, but the time they spent together meant alot to my friend. She grew up significantly during their time together and had grown to appreciate their relationship for that.

During our conversation we both agreed to go to the funeral home visitation together and offer our condolences to her family. Last night was the night. Three hours before our meeting time, my friend called in a tizzy and said she was definitely NOT going. She couldn't do it. I let her vent her emotions and patiently waited for my time. Her last remark to me was, "I don't do well at funerals."

That is an interesting remark. Do you know anyone that does well at funerals? Maybe one or two people, but most people can't stand to go to a funeral. They don't know what to say, they don't want to let anyone see them cry, and they don't want to say goodbye in most cases. I'm no different. I confess that there are easier things to do in life and other things that I'd rather be doing than crying at a funeral home, but I believe that everything has a time and a place.

Fact: We will all die one day.

No matter how hard you try. No matter how many plastic surgeries you have. No matter how many trips in an airplane you refuse. No matter how careful you are to wash your hands after handling raw chicken. WE WILL ALL DIE. It's an unavoidable fact.

That doesn't mean that we should spend all day, everyday wondering how, when or why. It just means that it will happen. No one says it will be easy for anyone involved. It just happens.

I didn't explain this to my friend. She knows that. I guess we all do on some level.

I did remind her that she had treasured this friendship and that there were other people involved. The woman left a teenage son and two small children, in addition to her mother, father, brother, and sister. These people are in need of comfort as well. They will miss this woman. Over the next few weeks there will be major adjustments in the lives of this family and in the care of her children. Wouldn't it be nice to go and let them know that you care? that you will miss her, too? that her life meant something to you? Of course, she answered yes.

We went. She cried. We talked to the family. They cried. She had to remove herself from the room because she was that upset.

Did she regret it? No. In the ride back home she was glad that she had gone to say goodbye. She was glad that the last few days have been spent running over memories in her mind. She was glad that she was able to comfort the family in her own way. Seeing her probably brought back good memories for the woman's family, as well.

Do we have to go to funerals? No.

Would we want someone to comfort our family if our lives were lost? Yes.

The next time you're in doubt about whether or not to go to a funeral remember that. You would appreciate someone extending love to your family when you're gone. It really is that simple.

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