“I’m the kinda guy who laughs at a funeral, can’t understand what I mean then you soon will” – Barenaked Ladies “One Week”
I find funerals awkward occasions. If it’s a funeral of someone close to me I’d rather be left alone to grieve in my own time in my own way, if it’s a funeral where you go to support a friend – as today’s is – I feel useless and in the way. Mourning is such a personal thing and the services are an uncomfortable but necessary part of the process and the one thing that gets me through them is hearing about the life of another human being and the smiles and memories that come from that. I enjoy (if that’s the right word) the tea afterwards where you find corners and tables of people recounting tales about the person and the laughter that comes from a story about them.
It’s also the regret you feel on these occasions and the thoughts of what you could and should have done when it’s someone close to you. The thoughts that run through your head about all the possible opportunities and missed chances you had are most difficult because the truth is those ideas will never be reality now. And we all take stock of our lives in those moments as well and make these decisions to live our lives to capacity, only for us to revert back to the norm a day later.
It’s a good thing to take stock in life and realise the limits we live within – not in a negative way, but to consider the possibilities and goals we want to achieve. These are often spurred on by the stories told of the deceased’s life and the things they did and this is the warmer side of a cold experience for me. If we’re lucky enough to get our three score and ten years then we should live it rather than just exist through it.
The most difficult funerals to cope with are those who didn’t get the full experience and had their time cut short. There are all the euphemisms that get us through the passing of an elderly relative but there are no words that can help the death of someone taken before their time. To try to find the light in this darkness is the most difficult, but you have to try just to make it through and think of the moments spent together in the short time we have.
So today is about being there for someone else and to support them in this difficult time. I don’t have any clever or useful words to use, but sometimes just seeing how many people care about you and the person you have lost is the thing you will remember most about the day.