Let’s talk about funerals, no one’s go-to conversation starter over coffee. While the death of a friend or loved one is one of the most challenging events of a lifetime, plunging us into a season of grief and sorrow and emotional turmoil, chilling us with its savagery and suddenness, there is another accompanying truth flickering within that darkness. News of someone’s passing rallies our compassion, does a force-stop on our drivenness, automatically cancels planned events, reminds us of life’s fraility (even our own), and re-ignites the bonds that connect us – love! Have you ever attended a memorial service where there weren’t shared tears, hugs and kisses galore, weepy laughter at tales told, a true love fest? (these are among life’s most treasured, most revisited, memories!) I see all this outpouring of relationship and caring as one of the manifestations of death’s defeat. Yes, there is sorrow. Yes, the gap created contains much pain and will require months, if not years, to fully heal. But healing happens. Life and eternity gain our attention, rendering us gentler, more mindful, more appreciative of what we have, ever grateful for what we had. We know that the grieving process can take up to two years, and in that time we are encouraged to be kind to ourselves at its lengthiness, patient when the tears start up yet again, accepting of the awkwardness of continuing to live while our loved one is no longer here. It’s also important to have family and friends who refuse to give in to the awkwardness of not knowing what to say (when that happens, we just don’t say anything. Our ongoing presence, our including them, as well as our thoughtfulnesses, say it better than we ever could).
God created us as relational beings. We were designed in love, for love. Family and community are critical needs for all of us. We present a strong, in charge, face to the world, but there’s a little child inside all of us needing assurances of our okayness, our belonging, our uncancellable worth. Speaking of our worth, isn’t it the most delicious mystery that Jesus instructed his disciples to begin praying with an affirmation of their acceptance with these heartbreakingly simple, but beautiful, two words: “Our Father …”? Maybe the circle is never truly ‘broken.’ PD