Friday, March 29, 2013
I Hate Funerals
This may seem like a rather "Duh!" thing to say that I hate funerals. I can't think of too many people who actually enjoy them. Funerals mean someone you care about has left this earth. Or someone close to someone you love. It means grief and hardship and tears - either from yourself or from someone you love.
Yesterday I attended my fourth funeral. Yes, while I have lost many people in my life, I have only been to 4 funerals. In general, I prefer to say my goodbyes in private - not in a funeral home or church. But, I did go to four - and these were more to be there for the family and friends still alive.
In all four of these cases, while I was close to 3 of the 4 who passed away, I was especially close to the family and friends of each of them. We had shared a lot of laughter and tears, hugs and prayers. And sitting in a funeral service, all you can do is watch each of these loved ones in visible pain.
And this is what makes funerals difficult for me. It isn't just knowing I've lost someone. It's watching others whom I love in pain. I hate seeing people hurting. I hate knowing there really isn't much that can be said in that moment to make things ok. Yes, we offer condolences and hugs. We say those beautiful things like "he's in a better place now." But really... in that moment when we lose a cherished member of our family (this includes those close friends as well), we know they're in a better place. But that doesn't change the fact that they have left us. Yes, we know they're looking down on us. But that doesn't change the fact that we can no longer hold their hand or hear their voice.
What can you say to someone who has lost a spouse or a parent or a beloved friend? How can you help take some of that pain away? The truth is, in my opinion, there is nothing that can be said or done which will, in that moment, ease their suffering. However, what you say or do will be remembered - or, rather, the sentiment and love behind your actions will be remembered. This is why the words you say aren't that important. The fact that you were there for them is what is important. Send a card, give them a hug, bake them a dish, offer to take care of their kids. And always remind them God is with them in this trying time. Yes, they may not believe it in that moment, but it's still good to hear.