So I Went to a Funeral Yesterday…

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Spring is blooming everywhere!

Yesterday was a whirlwind of a day. Doug came home from his shift in the morning, we had our Saturday brunch, got ready and dressed for a friend’s mother’s funeral across town, came back to the east end to the store and back home for just an hour, then went up north to my parents place for dinner.

Honestly – I wanted to just stay home yesterday but everything turned out nicely. Even the funeral.

I mean, who likes going to funerals? We do, though, right? We want to support our grieving friends. I believe it is even more so for ourselves than our friends.

The person who passed away – I didn’t even know. I might have met her once when I attended her late husband’s funeral a few years ago – also their to support my friend. I knew about her though. My friend has always had a way with words which summed up the description of both his parents very specifically.

Anyway – her funeral, like her husband, was more of a memorial service. No casket. Some flowers and a lovely photo but a very minimal display. What the memorial service was mostly about were family members who stood up and gave a heartfelt and memorable eulogy in celebration of the person’s life.

As some one who had no real connections to the deceased, I found myself extremely grateful to have witnessed such a personal event. After all, other than my friend, I was nothing to the rest of the family. My being there would not have made a difference.

Yet being there, I felt it was more a privilege. I was able to extend the memory of this remarkable woman further – to be another anchor of her existence on our earth while she was still here.

And I think this helped her children and grandchildren seek closure. Not directly from me per say, but from all the attentive and listening ears whom were present at the memorial service.

When we came home, I told Doug, my husband, this is what I want. I don’t want a dreary funeral when I am gone. I don’t even care to have it at a funeral home. Rent out a generous space at a pub (one of the ones we frequent), invite all our family and friends, have some speeches and then get pissed drunk while celebrating my life!

That is all I want. My soul would then rest in peace.

What I witness at funerals

No one likes to attend funerals. It is not a pleasant time regardless of whether you know the recently departed or not. Bottom line, funerals are sad, unpleasant, and lets face it, not a comfortable place to be.

Having said that, I always try to go to support my friends. Regardless of that inner voice that says to me, “But you won’t know anyone there… what will you say? How will you act?” I squash that voice with the much bigger one (which incidentally, comes from my heart), sternly saying, “You’ll regret it if you don’t go. Because this is not about you, your fears and anxiety. This is about your friends needing as much support as they can get!”

The silver lining, though, is witnessing one key element. Many words comes to describe this element – support, network, even love. It’s a good reminder of how, at the end of the day, one’s community of friends and family, is what makes a person wealthy.

Whenever I leave a funeral, it’s always with this bittersweet thought – there is the sadness and tears I had just witnessed. And seeing a friend so broken heart-ed is never easy. For one, we truly wish we had the power to ease their pain. But we can’t. The mourning process is a natural one that needs to take its own course.

Yet, my willingness to continue to connect with my own network, is re-enforced. And I am purely blessed with the people I have in my life.

While at a friends’ grandmother’s funeral yesterday, my good, long-time friend, sat down with me on the side – we had this exact discussion. No money or job can ever replace the love we saw and felt in that room yesterday. The women whom we had gathered to celebrate her 95 years of life, was a pillar of this success. She had all her 10 children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, not to mention, her vast extended family, by her side when she left this world.

Most of us, my friend said, will never have that even though we have great friends and family as it is. But who can say they had such wealth as she did?

And so, I went thinking I was there just to support my friends. I left, however, learning just a little bit more about life and gaining so much more insight just as a person witnessing all this from the side-lines.

This was, actually, Chaeli’s first funeral. Doug was working at the fire station which was only about ten minutes away from the funeral home. He was, however, unable to leave his post, yet sent them a very heart-full email. As the visitations were planned very quickly after her passing, I decided to not arrange for childcare and let Chaeli experience what a funeral was all about.

We had a good talk about what to expect before going, and more importantly, why it’s important to support our friends when they’ve lost some one they love.

Chaeli handled the situation amazingly. When we first arrived, she saw the older daughter of our friends, broken down in tears. It took no hesitation on Chaeli’s part to reach out and give this wonderful girl (and she is truly wonderful) a big, supporting hug.

I must admit I was a proud parent yesterday.

memorial for uncle DY

i’ve been meaning to update at least a couple of times last week. but as the title of this post explains, we had a funeral last tuesday – a very unexpected one.

just a few days before the memorial for our dear, long-time family friend, known as uncle DY to me, he had a massive stroke. everything happened so quickly – both the shock accompanied by man different types of emotions were making it a difficult week for all.

in the end, all i can say is that we lost a great family man and amazing friend (my father’s best friend for 50+ years). a lot of people were at his memorial and chinese dinner reception afterwards. i know the gathering of so many people who’s lives were touched by uncle DY, would have made him very happy. he would not have wanted it any other way.

as the week went by, i found myself thinking about uncle DY quite a bit.

while still sad that he left us so soon and unexpectedly, i draw on his words of wisdom to help myself be more patient and hopefully, to be a better friend, parent and family member. his aim was to basically have a “fat life” and to be a good person.

no doubt, he achieved both of those goals. and i believe his spirit will live on strongly through our own practice in the philosophies he followed.