Funerals not for everyone

I have always thought funerals were for the living, not the dead. It is the final time for the deceased’s loved ones gather in their honor. It is a chance to grieve with the comfort of others around, and to pay your final respects. For some this brings closure in accompanying their loved one to their final resting place.

I have always thought of funerals as more of a celebration. It is a time to gather and celebrate this person’s life. Seeing all the people present brings me comfort, to think of all the lives that were touched in some way or another by knowing this person. It is may last chance to express my gratitude for having had this person in my life. Yes, I do shed tears, but for the most part I focus on the good times we shared.

My attitude towards funerals isn’t the case for most. Recently my son’s aunt on his father’s side passed away. He is eleven and this was his first experience of losing a loved one. I asked him if wanted to attend the funeral, and told him it was perfectly fine if he chose not to. He thought about it and said he would like to go. I gave him a brief explanation of what to expect and asked if he had any questions. Being a man of few words, he shook his head no. The funeral home was a sea of people from wall to wall. He reluctantly walked through the door of the viewing room with me, took a couple of steps and froze. I told him we could go back outside, but he assured me he was fine. I asked if he wanted to come to the casket with me. Again he shook his head no. I went and knelt at the casket to say a prayer and my last goodbye. I told her I always knew what a wonderful person she was, but I didn’t know how many others felt the same. I turned around, and there was my son still in the same place I had left him. He looked like a statue, and his face was flushed of all color. I went back to him and he stated that maybe he’d like to leave now. I told him that was fine, and that it took a lot of courage just to go. A lot of people have a tough time at funerals and some choose not to attend at all. However you feel is perfectly all right.

There are several reasons people may not feel comfortable at funerals. It is such a final thing. Some people aren’t willing or can’t let go. Knowing that this will be the last time ever they spend with their loved can be too much for some to handle. For some a funeral brings about thoughts of their own mortality. This is a subject most people don’t even want to think about. Public displays of grief and emotion aren’t alright for everyone. Some prefer to grieve privately in their own way. Funerals can bring thoughts of any unresolved issues. This can leave you with feelings of guilt and remorse. Some want to remember the loved one as they were when they last saw them. Sometimes this is easier than memories of them laying in a casket. Death can be a scary thing. For some just the thought of being around a dead body is more than they can handle.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Everybody does it in their own time, in their own way. All you can do is what you feel comfortable with. Nobody should expect anything more from you.