A New Perspective?Posted: May 20, 2010
Those that know me the best will tell you — it’s hard for me to look at something differently.
I like comfort. I like routine. I like tradition. That’s not to say I can’t be spontaneous, because I can. In fact, I probably need that more than I need comfort, routine and tradition — but that’s an entire separate entry.
Today, I looked at something that I know all to well with a completely new perspective.
And, are you ready?
It helped. A lot.
I went to a funeral today. Yes, I know. Here we go, more death and dying. Well, look, if you read me, you know that’s an area I’m well-versed in. It’s also an area I’m sort of fascinated with. So, um, there.
The grandfather of a dear friend passed away last week. I never met this man, but I feel like I know him from all the stories my friend has told me — and especially after all I’ve learned about him since his passing.
My friend was close — very close — to her grampa. I knew this wasn’t going to be easy for her. And I knew that fact combined with my own funeral issues wouldn’t make this easy for me. But, where else was I supposed to be? Nowhere except paying tribute to this man by supporting my friend. So, off I went.
The thing is, it was a much different funeral experience than I’ve ever had. First, it was in the funeral home. I’ve only been to a funeral that is part of a church service. So, that’s all I knew. Anything else would be compared to that. Sorry, but that’s what I do.
So part of my nervousness was wondering what would be different and how it would make me feel. The last funeral I was at, well, wasn’t pretty. And the last thing I wanted to do was get emotional today that others took notice. This wasn’t about me, after all.
The celebrant — and that is the perfect word in this case — stood in front of the gathered crowd and said that while there is obvious sadness, that this day would be a celebration of this man’s life.
A celebration? What’s to celebrate? Well, I can’t help but asking those questions. I mean, he’s dead. Why are we celebrating that? We didn’t celebrat that, obviously. We celebrated his life. And it was pretty cool to see. The celebrant told stories about his life that touched many that were gathered. Then, she opened the floor for anyone to say a few words and share a story. A handful of people did — often drawing laughs.
Laughs. At a funeral. Can you imagine? I couldn’t. (At least before today I couldn’t.)
It was a pretty incredible thing. There was still a scripture reading. There were still songs. There was just one huge difference — this didn’t have the ‘seriousness’ of a Catholic funeral, an occasion, which, in my opinion, is more focused on sorrow than joy.
Don’t get me wrong, there was sorrow today, but the over-arching theme was joy and celebration. And that came through.
So it got me thinking. Surprise, surprise.
How would things have been different in my own life if the two biggest funerals I’ve been to were more celebratory in nature? It also made me question my faith — again.
What slays me at a Catholic funeral in particular is the same thing that I like — the traditional elements. I love funeral hymns. Crazy, I know. But there are some pretty phenomenal songs out there that can be sang at a funeral. I love that element. I love the mass aspect of things and preparing for the next life in heaven. I’m all for that. Truly. But at the same point, those are the things, too, that kill me emotionally about a funeral.
There wasn’t a great religious feel to today — but it was definitely spiritual.
And again, that made me think. It made me open my eyes. It made me take a new perspective on something I’ve had such strong feelings about in the past.
I believe the overall service and how it was done and how it was focused made things much easier for me to deal with — in terms of my own emotions. There were elements I missed, but there were elements I never would have imagined that were so fabulous.
The fact is, I learned a lot today. Not just about the person being ‘celebrated’ but about myself.
I learned that things don’t have to be as I expect them to be. Just because something may be right for me doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.
And, after seeing today and how it all played out, I’m not even sure I know what’s right for me.
Plenty of time, though, left to figure that out. Just good to know that this might be a good starting point for me to look at a lot of things — not just this — in a new perspective.
Thank you, Mr. C. While we never met, I feel like I know you. And, that’s even more evident by the lesson you taught me today. It’s one I hope I can learn from again and again.