Well-Attended Funeral Makes Me Think About Death and Dying

Loved one at casket for funeral
Loved one at casket for funeral
Shutterstock/Syda Productions
When Loved Ones Leave US

I recently attended a funeral for a fairly young individual in their 70’s which is young by today’s standards.  It was well-attended; the church was full for the funeral Mass.

I used to work for my church.  I would often help families set up for a funeral.  I would accept the flowers from the florist and get the liturgical books ready.  I might also help set up the hall for the funeral reception placing table clothes and table decorations on the tables.  Some funerals were very small—only a hand-full of people in attendance, and others very large and some were in the medium range.  All were there to honor their loved one and to send them off to their final resting place.

I don’t like to dwell on death and dying but I got to thinking about how big my funeral would be.  I am hoping that that time is a long way off, but it still made me wonder.

What was special about the recent funeral I attended, is that this individual made a difference in lives of his friends, family and community.  He touched a lot of people.  I believe we get what we give in this life.  There are different ways of giving and some of us are better at it than others.  Regardless of how big a funeral is, it is honorable to be able to celebrate and reflect on someone’s life.

I suppose it is not something that I should be too concerned with because I won’t “be there” for my funeral.  Funerals are for the living.  When I worked at the church it felt like real life happening before my eyes.  So much of life today is electronic communication.   You can’t smell the incense, sing the hymns communally or hug the bereaved through a livestream.

As a catholic, I think it is a good idea to pre-plan what you would like your funeral to look like.  I haven’t done that yet but knowing how particular I am, I would want it to be a certain way.  There are special prayers that you can use at Mass that are appropriate for funerals and hymns that always bring tears to my eyes.  Many people who are not catholic hold celebrations of life that are very meaningful.  In a way, funerals are about the marking of time, just like celebrating the birth of a child.

Expect Emotions to Rise Up

I think when we attend a funeral many emotions are brought up.  We may think about the life we are leading or have led.  We think about our relationships and what we might want to accomplish before that fateful day.  We don’t like to think about death—the finality of it.  We will all be there some day.

Many times, I think about the family members and the loss of their loved one.  I think about how different it is for them, how their world must be turned upside-down–sometimes in an instant.

I look at how violent the world is becoming, and how going about your day-to-day business can end in a mass shooting incident.  How can this be real?  It is quite tragic that we have to worry about stuff like that happening.  I think people have become more comfortable just staying home since the pandemic began.

Perhaps the world will never really be the same as it was before—I think I have changed because of the pandemic.  I think, at least for a period of time, we all looked death straight in the face and may have experienced the loss of a loved one that succumbed to the virus.  I remember right after the mask mandates went out, people that you would greet you when out for a walk, wave and say hello.  Now, it is not the case, because we have gone back to some of our old ways.

After thinking about this for a while, all I know for sure, is that there is always one constant.  Death and taxes.

Once Again, Death is At Our Doorstep

When I write posts, it often takes me some time because there is a lot of SEO stuff that I try to accomplish.  Once again, we are hurled back to that place of disbelief when a gunman enters a school in Uvalde, Texas, to massacre innocent children and teachers or out to the grocery store in Buffalo, New York, for a carton of ice cream.  How are we to respond to that death and carnage and lives lost—for what? Five minutes of social media fame?  What does this evil action prove?

It may be a little weird, but I look for clues.  I look for clues of God speaking to me as to how should I digest what has just happened or is there some significant thing I am to do or think.  I look at the locale of the action (it could be any type of upheaval, not just school shootings), I look for the date or just any sign that resonates.  I look at the Scripture for the day.  Is there a message in it for the time and place that we are experiencing?

Sometimes, I am chilled because, I realize it might not be God who does the “speaking.”  There is evil in the world whether we care to admit it or not.  Evil acts.  Some people are mentally disturbed and do evil things but sometimes there is no explanation for the evil that is committed.  Where does that leave us when we are looking for answers?

Certainly, we can not go on like this and there must be restrictions for disturbed or evil people and young people owning guns.  I feel we are on a trajectory now, especially after everything Covid has dealt to us.  It must be a trajectory of change.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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