OPINION SHAPER: Why Does a Funeral Draw so Many While an Actual Life Draws So Few?I was sent a link to this article through Twiiter (@ryanthogmartin). After reading it I thought it was a great article and poses a question many of us have asked before. I would love to get your opinion as well, so please share below in the comments.
Someone dear to us died last year. She led a relatively quiet life, blessing her family and what appeared to be her few friends. So one would expect that her memorial service would be small and, well, quiet.
Not so. People appeared in droves at the visitation and funeral, some driving hundreds of miles. Now why would this be? Why does a funeral draw so many while an actual life draws so few?
We gather to the empty physical shell of the person with flowers and hushed voices. The essence of that person is gone, though. The smile, the laugh, the quirkiness – all gone. There is no longer opportunity to comfort that person in their pain, to laugh at a silly joke together, to receive small gifts from living hands, to be a support in time of need. The time for that is gone. Yes, there are the bereaved to offer comfort to: spouses, children, parents, extended family … but then everyone is once again gone.
I know a woman who kept encouraging her mother to go visit her dying father. She kept refusing, but the minute he died, she was on the train headed to his funeral. But he was gone. What are we saying when we make these great efforts to be at a person’s memorial? Are you wanting to honor the deceased? Even more so, honor them in life. If you are wanting to comfort the bereaved, believe me, grief doesn’t end at graveside.
Every day we are face to face with other human beings, all of whom have boatloads of sorrow, need and trouble in their lives. And yet we sort of have blinders on because, well, life is busy and hectic and getting into the lives of others is messy. We arrive at the checkout line face to face with an actual living, breathing human being, and we are engrossed with talking on our cell phone. Do we even make eye contact? Those that take our orders, deliver our mail, pick up our trash, walk the dog by our house, teach our children and sit across from us at the dinner table … all human, all precious, all needy.
A couple of months ago, I was at the library checking out some books. This particular librarian has always been so helpful and friendly, but her kindness that day particularly struck me. I choked up right there at the check-out counter and could only reply to her quizzical expression, “Thank you for being so kind to me. I appreciate it.”
It honestly doesn’t take much to tune in to another human being. I am concerned about you; I want to listen to you; I see you. There is so little time before someone is gone. Let’s be drawn to their life, not their death.
Tina Robinson of Florissant is a wife and mom of five grown children and one daughter-in-law. She is a writer, novice crocheter, crossword puzzler, organizer and gardener.