Two funerals this week. Aside from the preparations, the planning to make sure all goes smoothly, here are a few observations as I ruminate on death and the process of grieving.
Funerals have changed. What was once an obligation, like attending church services on Sunday, is now an option. Some people say, “I don’t do funerals. I prefer to remember X in my own way.” Funerals have become a choice- people decide whether they want to attend the way they decide whether to attend a wedding or Bar Mitzvah. Older folks will attend the funeral of someone from their church, whether they knew X intimately or not. They grew up at a time when funerals were a social obligation. The attendance at the funeral this morning was large and the age span was pre-teen through senior citizen. X was in his early sixties, but his impact on others was obviously far reaching.
Some shudder at calling the funeral service, ‘A Celebration of Life.’ They prefer to use the term funeral or Burial Service. I don’t see this as an either/ or, but think both are completely accurate. We gather to remember, to celebrate a life lived; a person loved by many. We also gather to acknowledge that physical life has ceased. The person is no longer with us in his or her physical body, but hopefully lives on in our hearts~ which takes me to the thought I had during this morning’s service.
I had an image of a soul, an essence, scattering like tiny particles of light after someone dies. Those sparks come take root in our own souls. We keep the spark alive for as long as we remember someone and his or her love for us. The soul lives on in eternity for as long as he or she stays alive in our hearts and memories.
That is a real celebration of life.